Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On the positives of owning up

I just finished reading a book that (surprise surprise!) is focused on a woman who really likes Jane Austen. Like most chick lit based on or around Austen, this woman has the distinct feeling that Austen has ruined her love life with such characters as Edmund Bertram and Mr. Darcy.

Now, first of all: Edmund Bertram? That nitwit? Has this author even read any other of the Austen novels? For that matter, has she read any at all? Or just watched the movies? Because, and maybe it's just me, but I would never ever ever put Edmund Bertram on any sort of pedestal even remotely associated with romantic perfection. Ever.

Second of all (which does indicate that perhaps the author is an Austen-movies-only kind of girl): Mr. Darcy is not her main character's pinnacle of romantic hero. Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy holds that honor.

Now, I will agree as much as the next person that Colin First as Mr. Darcy is fantastic. Spot on. Smoldering in an "I-have-an-attitude-despite-this-frilly-neck-cloth" sort of way. And that's not even considering the (superfluous) Darcy-in-water scene (even the BBC isn't perfect?). Add that into the mix and wowza. But the thing is, that's not Darcy. Sure, I'm of the camp that Elizabeth may be a far more faulted character than her true love Darcy. But I also believe that, regardless of his affections for Elizabeth, Darcy would still treat everyone else pretty much like crap. I mean, come on, he's not even particularly polite to Caroline Bingley, and he's around her all the time. What makes any self-respecting female think that he'd treat her any differently? That he'd deign to remove his attention from Elizabeth for even a second in order to address her?

However, and maybe this has more to do with my favorite Austen hero not being Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, I have a bit of a problem with this main character's (let's just say it) obsession. Unfounded and misplaced, it may be. But still, it is hers, how she feels. And she is wholeheartedly ashamed of it.

Like to the point of hiding her Pride and Prejudice dvd set in a houseplant so that no one will find out about it.

So, let's see... is this book telling me that I should be ashamed by my Austen-philia, even though I really and truly love Jane Austen? Because I'm not ashamed, no way Jose. Nor will I be induced to think I should be ashamed. The only thing that I get out of this specific incarnation of Austen chick lit is that people should, above all else, stay true to themselves. And perhaps people wouldn't be so screwed up if they'd read and not just trust things to movies.

Oh, and maybe they shouldn't think that highly of Mr. Bertram, either.

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