Saturday, August 20, 2011

Book Review: "Definitely Not Mr. Darcy"

Karen Doornebos' debut novel Definitely Not Mr. Darcy (Berkley, 2011) is a humorous (even ridiculous, but in a good way) parody of the 19th-century sentimental novel. Set in the present, it sees Austen enthusiast Chloe Parker (a down-on-her-luck American letterpress printer) heading across the pond for what she thinks is the filming of a documentary on Austen's life and works, but is in reality a dating show (set, naturally, in 1812). Chloe must navigate the dangerous shoals of Regency-era clothing, etiquette, and communications technology while fending off more-accomplished rivals and competing in various tasks to give her a leg up in the dating contest.

Revivifying many of the sentimental tropes, motifs and plot techniques that Austen herself deployed, Doornebos has written a book that succeeded in making me laugh without leading to (very many) eye-rolls (the bachelor prize is named Mr. Wrightman, after all). Silly? Yes. Predictable? You bet. Entertaining? Indeed.

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