Given my choice of Jane Austen heroes, I lean more toward Captain Wentworth or Mr. Knightley than Fitzwilliam Darcy. But all three have their good points, so I was content to while away a couple of hours in the company of Mr. Darcy, courtesy of Amanda Grange in Mr. Darcy’s Diary, published in the UK in 2005 and recently released in the United States by Sourcebooks.
Mr. Darcy’s Diary begins at about the time that Darcy rescues his young sister from the fortune-hunting Wickham and ends not long after his marriage to Elizabeth Bennet. (If you consider these spoilers, you clearly aren’t the target audience for this novel. Go read Pride and Prejudice and the rest of the Austen novels immediately. Then read them all over again. Then you’re ready to try the retellings.)
As is proper, Grange doesn’t attempt the impossible task of competing with the Divine Jane, but tells Darcy’s story in her own style, with charm and a gentle wit. While her characters are true to Austen’s creations, a couple of surprises lurk, only adding to the reader’s pleasure.
The well-known scenes between Elizabeth and Darcy are here, of course, and I found that the novel dragged a little at such points, with the retelling suffering in comparison to the original. Fortunately, there are plenty of entirely fresh scenes, such as the ones where Mrs. Bennet decides to serve Darcy sauces and where Darcy tries to make small talk with a dimwitted heiress, in which Grange’s own humor and warmth shine, making this an amusing and diverting read for Austen fans.