#36 A Review of Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard by Belinda Roberts

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I’m always up for trying a new novel in the Jane Austen fan fiction world.  Sometimes they’re amazing, sometimes not.  Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard unfortunately falls in the latter category.  If you don’t want to read spoilers about the book, then I suggest you stop reading here.  I will be talking about the book from beginning to end, in order to showcase the craziness that was this book.  When I first read the back of the book I knew that it was meant to be read by young adults and was meant to make them laugh.  I do take these things into consideration when reviewing/reading YA books.  Up until now I’ve always laughed/cried at the right times and really enjoyed the stories I’ve read for young adults.  Unfortunately, the humor that Roberts writes in this book borders on ridiculous. 

Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard is a modern-day retelling of Pride and Prejudice that takes place in the sea resort town of Salcombe.  The particulars of P&P happen relatively similar to the original: Jane and Bingley meet and have an instant attraction, Darcy and Elizabeth dislike each other at first, Elizabeth meets/becomes attracted to Wickham, Darcy tells Elizabeth how he feels, she is disgusted by him and his pride, and so on and so on.  There were some differences in this retelling for the obvious reason that it’s a contemporary young adult novel. 

My first critique of the novel was with the flow of the writing.  The book uses Austen’s text one minute then flips to contemporary language the next.  It makes for an extremely choppy reading pattern.  The characterizations of the characters were really weak as well, with Lydia being the standout example.  Throughout the entire novel she is selfish and completely boy-crazy.  (Nothing new there)  It’s the Wickham debacle and the aftermath that is crazy.  Wickham brings Lydia to a strip club to work there and make money for them, when they’re found by Darcy.  When Lydia returns home she’s ashamed of what she’s done, and two pages later, (I KID YOU NOT) she decides to become a nun and go on missionary trips.  I literally re-read those two pages about ten times, trying to figure out what I was missing.  There is no way that anyone makes that drastic of a life decision that fast.  More ridiculous characterizations: Lady Catherine calling another woman “a hot babe”, and a mortifyingly shy Georgiana that hides when people are near.  Most of Austen’s characters are just sadly unrecognizable. 

Like I said earlier, I understand that this was supposed to be a comedic approach to P&P, but I got lost in how nonsensical some of the scenes were.  Darcy’s second proposal is probably the craziest thing I’ve ever read.  Here is a brief rundown: Darcy and Elizabeth are walking, when Darcy suddenly falls off a cliff (I must pause here and tell you that people are ALWAYS falling off cliffs in this book). Ok back to the proposal scene: Darcy tries to yell up to Elizabeth and ask her if she loves him.  Due to a crazy wind storm they can’t hear what the other is saying.  Darcy just so happens to have a copy of Pride and Prejudice in his back pocket, which he whips out and writes a note to Elizabeth on.  He ties it to a rock and throws it over the top of the cliff, unwillingly knocking Elizabeth out.  He proceeds to wait for a response by reading P&P while hanging off the side of a cliff.  Elizabeth comes to, reads his note, and throws two rocks over the edge of the note.  (Darcy’s note said if you love me throw two rocks off the cliff, and if you don’t love me throw one).  Since he was engrossed in the book, he doesn’t see how many rocks come over the cliff and writes Elizabeth another note.  She then proceeds to throw two BOULDERS over the edge of the cliff.  Sound ridiculous?! It was. 

I’m so disappointed that the publisher, Sourcebooks, actually published this.  They publish so many amazing Austen fan fiction novels that when I see their logo on a book I automatically pick it up.  I respect them as publishers so much that I don’t need to know the author or anything about the novel. I trust their judgement.  This book has put a little bit of a crack in that relationship that will hopefully heal upon finding a new amazing Sourcebook novel.

So here we are at the end of my review.  I don’t normally tell people not to read a book. I like to let them make their own opinion as everyone’s tastes are different.  Unfortunately, I have to go against my own policy and HIGHLY suggest that you steer clear of this novel.  You will regret the time you wasted reading this trite, weakly written book.

1 out of 5 Stars

Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard by Belinda Roberts
Sourcebooks (2011)
Paperback 224 pages