I’m a total nut for (some) rewrites of Jane Austen’s novels. As I’ve blogged about before, I love Susan Kaye’s rewrite of Persuasion from Captain Wentworth’s point of view and Pamela Aidan’s rewrite of Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s point of view.

But I’m also a bit of a purist when it comes to my Austen rewrites. I’m not interested in rewriting the novels’ plots — no alternative endings. I’m also not a fan of the next generation type novels — Darcy and Elizabeth’s daughters, for example. And I’m definitely not a fan of time travel Austen novels — Elizabeth coming to the present or a contemporary woman traveling back into the novel.

While PJ and I were in New York last month, I looked around for an Austen rewrite to read — I especially like reading Austen and her emulators while I’m traveling; it makes me feel more comfortable or something. I stumbled across Regina Jeffers’ Vampire Darcy’s Desire. This book should have immediately fallen into the second category I described above, the this-is-an-abomination category, but I read a page or two while standing in the bookstore and was immediately impressed with Jeffers’ writing style. In fact, her prose quickly captured my interest and made me want to keep reading. Here’s how the first chapter opens (there’s a prologue before this that describes Darcy’s rescue of Georgiana from the vampire Wickham):

It took more than a day to explain it all to Georgiana. At first, she did not believe him, but the truth lay all around them. He explained what he knew of her acquaintance with Wickham–how she met the pretender one day in a village shop–how she saw him several times about the estate–how she thought him to be a friend of her brother’s. Slowly, with Darcy’s explanation, Georgiana realized Wickham offered her no future. (7)

I’m a firm believer in the idea that, if a novel doesn’t grab me pretty quickly in the opening page or two, it’s not going to appeal to me so I don’t read it. (This often has as much or more to do with my disposition at the time than the novel — a book that doesn’t appeal to me at one point in time might be perfectly fun to read 6 months later, for example.) What I liked about this opening paragraph is that it could have been a straight rewrite of Pride and Prejudice rather than the beginning of a vampire novel. It signals that Jeffers knows what she’s doing.

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