There’s Something about Darcy by Gabrielle Malcolm – review

My blog and me: obsessed with Mr Darcy. But why are people still obsessed with him? His popularity does not fade by the time, on the contrary, thanks to the internet and technology it peaks. What’s the secret? Gabrielle Malcolm’s new book, There’s Something about Darcy, is looking for the answers why is Mr Darcy so popular 200+ years on, why people keep placing Darcy in modern stories, such as Darcy fighting with zombies, Darcy as president or neurosurgeon, and explores the phenomenon surrounding the 1995 BBC adaptation’s success. 

So, what is it that Austen delivers for readers and viewers that turn them into such fans, and superfans, of her novels, her characters and of Darcy in particular? 

There’s Something about Darcy is a very well-researched book, starting with Darcy from the book, leading to the fanfiction and the tote bag and merchandising. The first chapter is dedicated to analysing Mr Darcy from the novel and the era. It was interesting to read about how Austen might have been inspired by George “Beau” Brummell and the etymology of Darcy’s name.

Darcy […] is the epitome of male attractiveness and fictional romantic heroism. 

Malcolm dug out some reviews from the era [when P&P was published] and checked out what they said about Austen, Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy. Very interesting to read what they thought back then. Is it Austen’s genius? Is it her writing that makes Darcy immortal? 

She is taking a closer look at Austen-inspired popular fiction such as Austenland, the Twilight saga, 50 Shades of Grey and also studies the genre of Jane Austen fan fiction, in which she explores what kind of fanfiction works and what are the unwritten rules to write a successful story. 

Malcolm is also analysing “spin-offs, sequels, derivative storylines and alternative narratives” such as Pemberley by Emma Tennant, Longbourn by Jo Baker, Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James and The Madness of Mr Darcy by Alexa Adams, she also analyses the Bridget Jones series, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Unleashing Mr Darcy, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It was interesting to see what made it to Dr Malcolm’s canon. I missed a closer look at Bride and Prejudice, which was only mentioned. 

At the beginning of the book, Malcolm gives an extensive comparison of Darcy and Rochester, Heathcliff and Thornton. To be honest, I have not enjoyed the comparison with the Bronte’s heroes’ as I found this chapter lengthy and not very relevant considering they didn’t like Austen’s writing, plus Rochester is an anti-hero for me. (Sorry, Jane Eyre fans J)

I very much enjoyed when she analysed four Mr Darcy’s portrayals from four movies/mini-series’. Lawrence Olivier’s Darcy from 1940, David Rintoul’s from 1980, the iconic 1995 BBC version with Colin Firth and Matthew Macfayden’s 2005 version. 

There’s Something about Darcy is an extensively researched book. A book which needs to be on every Janeite and Darcy-obsessed fan’s shelf.

There’s Something about Darcy is currently available for pre-order and will be out next week: 11. Nov.

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