I won’t call myself a Jane Austen ‘fan’ because I’ve recently discovered how intense her fans really are. I have, however, read all her books and watched most of film adaptions more than once.
So when I came across A Weekend With Mr Darcy at a secondhand bookshop in Cape Town, I was drawn to the title (and the price – it only cost R12, which was a steal really).
At first, I thought the book was a Jane Austen spin-off but it’s actually a fictional book about Jane Austen fans so it’s in the genre of The Jane Austen Book Club and so Mr Darcy doesn’t actually make an appearance in this book.
The story revolves around Katherine and Robyn who are described as true Janeites. Both are attending a Jane Austen weekend conference at the fictional Purley Hall. They meet at the beginning of the conference and become good friends during the very long weekend ahead.
Katherine is a lecturer who just got out of a bad relationship and has come to the notion that the perfect man only exists in books. She finds comfort in writing letters to Lorna Warwick, an author of Jane Austen spin offs and risqué Regency romances. She is a huge fan of Lorna’s work and they become very close penpals. Katherine is attending the conference as a guest speaker and she hopes to meet her at the conference. Lorna, however, doesn’t make public appearances. Little does Katherine know, Lorna is actually a man – Warwick Lawton. He decides to attend the conference as Warwick only and befriends Katherine all the while knowing who she is but he doesn’t tell her who he really is…
Robyn is in a long-term relationship with Jace but she is unhappy and is trying to find a way to end it. She was hoping to spend the weekend away from it all by attending the Jane Austen conference but Jace decides to tag along and even though he isn’t staying with her at Purley Hall, he ends popping up and causing some very awkward scenes for her during the weekend.
Robyn also meets Dan, the brother of their hostess Dame Pamela Harcourt. He lives in the stables nearby and they soon begin to fall for each other leaving Robyn with an important choice to make…
As their new love stories begin to unravel, Katherine and Robyn discover that being heroines in real life isn’t as easy as it is in their favourite books but it sure is exciting. Expect a variety of other characters at the conference, a trip to Jane Austen’s home and some very funny misunderstandings. My favourite character has to be Dame Pamela, an award-winning actress and the owner of Purley Hall. She hosts the annual Jane Austen conference at her home and though she comes across as flamboyant and someone who ravels in all the attention, she plays the role of fairy godmother to the main characters in the book.
This chick lit book is predictable but it’s an easy and enjoyable read. I particularly loved all the references to Jane Austen’s work and her life. After reading the book, I spent an entire weekend watching all the Jane Austen film adaptions again. I’m also planning a visit to Hampshire to finally see Jane Austen’s house museum.
More on the book here