As we all unfortunately learnt with 50 Shades of Grey, sometimes terrible fan fiction gets published and terrible consequences follow. And by ‘terrible consequences’, I mean me reading a book that, shall we say, left a lot to be desired.

Compulsively Mr Darcy by Nina Benneton sounds great in theory, but the execution managed to let it down. A modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic, Pride and Prejudice, the storyline of Compulsively Mr Darcy had the promises of a terrifically silly, funny read. Set in Vietnam and the United States (I know what you’re thinking – NOT set in England? Excuse me?), Mr Darcy is a billionaire who suffers from OCD and Elizabeth Bennett is a doctor who is working in Vietnam for free. When the two cross paths after Mr Darcy’s family friends, the Bingleys, try to adopt, confusion, love and a whole lotta bad sex follows.

I don’t actually know if Compulsively Mr Darcy originated as a fan fiction, but the use of famous characters names combined with very frequent and very terrible sex scenes sure gave the impression that it was. And while I can understand the sexual angst that comes with any Austen novel, there is definitely such a thing as too many sex scenes, not to mention too many sex scenes that are described in wayyyy too much detail. One such example? When Mr Darcy comes in Elizabeth, and the author uses the term, I kid you not, ‘he spilled his broth into her’. Not only does one not want to have to read about sperm, regardless of how much the author tries to ‘sexify’ it, using the term broth just conjures up images of soup…something of which I, unsurprisingly, haven’t eaten since.

However, terrible sex scenes aside, the real travesty is that the author essentially took some very well-loved characters…and destroyed them. Now, I’m not a particularly big Austen fan, but I understand the allure of Mr Darcy and Elizabeth, regardless, or perhaps because of, all their faults. And so when I read the blurb of a book that describes Mr Darcy as a man with OCD and Elizabeth as a pig-headed doctor, I could see how that could fit into their characterisation – and justly thought I was in for a light-hearted treat.

I was wrong. Aside from their names, the similarities between Austen’s Elizabeth and Mr Darcy (not to mention all the secondary characters) are non-existent. Not only is it NOT set in England, a wonderful aspect of all of Austen’s books, the author has also completely ignored the quirks and personality traits that make them so wonderful. And though I understand the appeal of writing in sex scenes for some of the most chaste romantic figures in literary history, the way Benneton does so takes away all the spark and chemistry of the couple. What could have been a fabulous modern retelling of a much-loved classic quickly became a tired romance novel that lacked the anticipation that is so needed in these types of books.

I’m not against chick lit, yet Compulsively Mr Darcy had all the traits that have led to the genre ending up with a bad reputation. A drawn-out storyline, lack of characterisation, and worst of all, silly plot lines that could have been resolved with a single conversation which I loathe – most couples, and indeed most women, are smarter than that.

Modern retellings can be a lot of fun, as Bridget Jones’s Diary so aptly shows us, but, except for the character’s names, Compulsively Mr Darcy has almost nothing in common with Jane Austen’s classic. Choose something else the next time you’re in the bookstore.

Have you read Compusively Mr Darcy? Where do you stand on retellings of famous works of fiction? Are you a fan of Jane Austen? Let me know!

compulsively mr darcy by nina benneton

Compulsively Mr Darcy – (image taken from http://www.gr-assets.com)

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