Yes. Mr.Darcy. Jane Austen’s famous fictional character from Pride And Prejudice. Before I write more, let me make a very honest confession. I haven’t read Pride And Prejudice…..yet. I have read Eligible, a hearty update from Pride And Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld. I have even seen Gurinder Chadha’s (and Aishwarya Rai starrer) Bollywood adaptation of the novel in Bride and Prejudice. But God knows why I haven’t laid my hands on the original masterpiece yet.
However, one thing is not very tough to realise. Mr. Darcy may be fictional but has a strong existence and hold on the minds of many women from different parts of the world. They love to fantasise about Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy aka Mr. Darcy as an ideal husband/boyfriend/partner. He is like a benchmark for the kind of man a woman dreams of to spend her life with.
But what if you meet Mr. Darcy in real life? And that too right in front of you straight from the pages of the novel? Just like Emily Albright meets him in Me and Mr. Darcy ?
Emily Albright, a 29 year old manager works in the bookstore McKenzie’s in New York. She is a total bookworm. Pride And Prejudice is her all time favourite novel and like many women, she loves….sorry….fancies about Mr. Darcy.
However, Emily is single in reality and has gone through a hell lot of bad dates in past one year. Every single bad date or relationship has convinced Emily that there is no classy man left in this world like Mr. Darcy. Her friend-cum-colleague, Stella (a graduate from fashion college who prefers reading only fashion magazines even though she works in a bookstore) calls Emily a hopeless romantic.
In an attempt to divert away Emily’s mind from Mr. Darcy, Stella invites Emily for a package holiday for adult singles in Mexico, called Club 18-30 to celebrate New Year. She thinks this is a bright opportunity for Emily to interact with ‘real’ men and have some ‘fun’.
But Emily being Emily dreads thinking about a holiday clad in bikini and sipping pina coladas in Mexico. Moreover, after her recent bad dates, she wants to be off men for a while. Emily sees a flyer lying on the counter and instantly opts to visit England for a :
SPECIALIST TOURS FOR LITERATURE LOVERS.
Spend a week with Mr. Darcy. Explore the world of Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice in the English countryside.
Emily arrives in England and is welcomed by her tour guide, Miss Steane. A tremendously jet-lagged Emily gets a shock once she enters her tourbus. All her co-passengers fall in the ‘senior citizen’ category except a British journalist from Daily Times, Spike Hargreaves, who is of Emily’s age. But Emily and Spike rub their wrong sides from the day one. Moreover, unlike the rest of the lot, Spike dislikes Mr. Darcy.
Like most men, Spike fails to understand all this hype about a fictitious character. A recent poll by the Orange Prize for Fiction asked 2000 women over three generations who their dream date would be. And Mr. Darcy came out as a clear winner.
Spike’s editor has sent him to interview women coming in this guided tour and write an article on why Mr. Darcy is so popular amongst females. Spike was supposed to spend Christmas and New Year in the Alps with his hot French Girlfriend. This gives him enough reason to hate Mr. Darcy even more.
The guided tour’s first destination is Chawton Manor, home to Jane Austen in the latter part of her life. During the tour, an exhausted Emily decides to rest for a while. She is awakened by a strikingly handsome man dressed in a frock coat, breeches, a white shirt with high-neck collar and riding boots. He introduces himself as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. At first, Emily takes him as an actor doing a fabulous job of playing the role of Mr. Darcy. After a couple of incidents later, she realises that he is the real Mr. Darcy.
Mr. Darcy’s polite behaviour, patience, caring attitude and good manners make Emily fall in love with him in no time (anyway she was always in love with him). They start dating each other. A boat ride in the lake, a chilly horse ride(in a dress that is more apt for Ball than on the back of a horse) on the New Year’s eve to a castle or a quiet picnic in the romantic English countryside – name it and Emily is literally living her fantasises.
And then there is Spike on the other hand, whose middle name can very well be ‘exact opposite to Mr. Darcy’. Messy, ill-tempered. Even after giving an attempt at imagining him romantically, Emily only cringes at his sight every time. Moreover, she discovers a dark side about Spike during the tour. Thus to Emily, Mr. Darcy is the one for her.
Then does Emily take the next step with her dream man, Mr. Darcy? What does she do when the most desirable man in this world confesses his love for her? How much does Miss Steane know about Emily’s relationship with Mr. Darcy? What conclusion does Spike draw about Mr. Darcy at the end of the tour?
And of course….a surprising revelation (signature style of Alexandra Potter’s writing) that comes to surface at the very end of the story.
Ever since I read The Love Detective and Love From Paris, Alexandra Potter has taken one of the topmost positions in the list of my favourite authors. Why do I search for her novels whenever I visit a bookstore or an online portal?