A fact about me...Jane Austen is one of my VERY favorite authors of all time. Since she only wrote 6 novels, I've read and re-read them all many times. So when I discovered modern authors writing continuations of those novels, twists on those novels, etc., I had to check them out. I've enjoyed many of those, found some mildly entertaining...but one of the things most important to me in a book like that is that the author keep the characters, well in character. For instance, when I read Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, I thought it was a really creative take on the story. And I enjoyed that Seth Grahame-Smith put a modern cultural element (zombies) into the classic...and I liked that fact that, for the most part, I could actually see Elizabeth or Mr. Darcy acting in that fashion. But I found it extremely disturbing when I felt the action was out of character...when I thought to myself, "Elizabeth would never do that!"
Seeing as I'm such a fan of characters staying in character, I was enormously pleased with Heather Rigaud's novel, Fitzwilliam Darcy: Rock Star. This novel, set in modern day, has Elizabeth and Darcy taking on one another as members of rock bands touring together. Elizabeth, her sister Jane, and friend Charlotte combine to create the girl band Long Borne Suffering. Darcy, Bingley, and Darcy's cousin Richard Fitzwilliam, are the stars of the successful and wildly popular rock band, Slurry. I absolutely loved the idea that these characters would meet while touring the U.S. And it was brilliant to use MTV as a conduit for information regarding the band members.
There are elements from the classic, such as certain lines and Ms. Rigaud included the sparring between Elizabeth and Darcy that I found so entertaining in Austen's version. There are newer elements for making this modern...Elizabeth and Darcy have *gasp* sex...there is drug/alcohol addiction, a pedophile...well, this is rock and roll! But what I most enjoyed about the novel is that for the most part, the personality of the original characters is maintained. And Ms. Rigaud does a splendid job of explaining the psychology behind why the characters have those personalities. And that made the book something that I still can't stop thinking about.
In the original, we know that Elizabeth is seen as the smart or witty daughter as compared to her beautiful sister, Jane. But Ms. Rigaud goes further by showing us the effects of these comparisons on Elizabeth's psyche. And in the original, we know that Darcy's parents died young. In this version, we see how they died and how these deaths would effect his ability to have relationships...and how this would manifest itself outwardly and make him appear "proud". The characters of Jane and Bingley are just as amiable in this version as the original. However, we get to delve further into the characters of Charlotte and Richard Fitzwilliam...and while their characters stray furthest away from their original counterparts, they add much flavor to the tale. Ms. Rigaud's incorporation of Caroline, Lady Catherine, Mr. Collins and other characters is also quite creative. I even enjoyed what she did with Wickham's character to make him the evil cad.
All in all, I'd highly recommend this novel whether you've read the original or not. It doesn't lose anything if you haven't read Austen's version. You'll still find it enjoyable.