After a string of disastrous dates, Emily Albright decides she's had it with modern-day love and would much rather curl up with Pride and Prejudice and spend her time with Mr. Darcy, the dashing, honorable, and passionate hero of Jane Austen's classic. So when her best friend suggests a wild week of margaritas and men in Mexico with the girls, Emily abruptly flees to England on a guided tour of Jane Austen country instead. Far from inspiring romance, the company aboard the bus consists of a gaggle of little old ladies and one single man, Spike Hargreaves, a foul-tempered journalist writing an article on why the fictional Mr. Darcy has earned the title of Man Most Women Would Love to Date.I picked this one up on Swap Club and for a book that was going to cost me a couple of points, something of which I currently have plenty, I thought I'd give it a go. While I don't consider myself a Jane Austen fangirl, I've enjoyed what I've read and seen of hers and I have to admit that yes, Colin Firth's Mr Darcy in the BBC adaption of Pride and Prejudice did leave an impression on me (so did Jennifer Ehle's Elizabeth, but for completely different reasons and that's not relevant to this review anyway).
The last thing Emily expects to find on her excursion is a broodingly handsome man striding across a field, his damp shirt clinging to his chest. But that's exactly what happens when she comes face-to-face with none other than Mr. Darcy himself. Suddenly, every woman's fantasy becomes one woman's reality. . .
(Blurb from www.fantasticfiction.co.uk)
The book starts off well, first as we get to ride along on another of Emily's disasterous dates and then join her in the bookshop she manages and met her flaky friend. Is the flaky friend a requirement of chick lit type books? As I haven't read more that two or three I wouldn't know. And what about the use of present tense? That's something I really don't like, although it isn't a deal-breaker for me over whether I read the book. Usually I'll stop noticing it after a while and carry on reading, which was the case with Me and Mr Darcy.
Emily's trip to England also starts well, as she finds that as her friend (I'm blanking on her name and I've loaned the book to a friend) was right and everyone else on the tour is an elderly lady - except for Spike, the journalist out to write a story about what women find so attractive about Mr Darcy.
Unfortunately, once the book gets to about the halfway point, Potter's grasp on the characterisation seems to start falling apart. I think the problem is that all the various character traits that Austen handled with such brilliance and subtlety are just too strident in Potter's hands. Emily stops being appealing and, as she starts meeting Mr Darcy and jumping to all the wrong conclusions about Spike, simply turns into a bitch. Once the story progresses a little futher and she begins to find less to like about Darcy and more to like about Spike, Darcy turns from a prideful man into an (excuse the language) arrogant a**hole.
And as for Spike, Emily's reactions to him show a man of such total differences from beginning to end, that I don't believe it could really have been the same man, not even considering that he is always described through Emily's eyes and therefore her prejudices. When Emily doesn't like him, he's totally awful. He's pot-bellied and rude and totally impossible. When she begins to learn the truth and find he's not so bad, suddenly he's firmly muscled and attractive and too close to perfect for how he was described before. Sorry, but while I could buy the changes in Austen's Darcy, I can't buy them in Spike. Or in Emily for that matter.
There's also the possible identity of the tour guide, which I think was meant to be clever but just seemed silly to me.
I was skimming by the time I reached 2/3 through, but the text of Spike's article at the end was very well done and saved the end of the novel for me.
However, because this didn't work for me, I don't think means it won't work for everyone who reads it. If it sounds like your kind of book, give it a try. It's certainly not all bad and has some very nice moments, mostly at the beginning.
Me and Mr Darcy