Monday, November 7, 2011

REVIEW: "Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star" by Heather Lynn Rigaud

TITLE: Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star
AUTHOR: Heather Lynn Rigaud
GENRE: Adult-Contemporary Romance
PUBLISHER: Sourcebooks
PUBLICATION DATE: September 2011
READ DATE: November 2011
SOURCE: Library
SUMMARY:  Fast music, powerful beats, and wild reputations-on and off stage-have made virtuoso guitarist Fitzwilliam Darcy's band into rock's newest bad boys. But they've lost their latest opening act, and their red-hot summer tour is on the fast track to disaster. Now Darcy and bandmates Charles Bingley and Richard Fitzwilliam are about to meet their match...
Enter Elizabeth Bennet, fiercely independent star of girl-band Long Borne Suffering. Elizabeth, her sister Jane, and friend Charlotte Lucas have talent to spare and jump at the opening band slot. Elizabeth is sure she's seen the worst the music industry has to offer. But as the days and nights heat up, it becomes clear that everyone is in for a summer to remember.

I should start this review by explaining that I am a huge fan of Austen's Pride and Prejudice.  It is not my personal favorite of hers (Persuasion!), but it is a close second.  Plus it has the honor of being my first Austen book which inspired me to try all her others.  Therefore, the story is very close to my heart, but I am not above entertaining retellings like Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star.  I am going to assume that most people at least know the basic premise of Pride and Prejudice and won't get too much into those details here.  What I am going to concentrate on is how I feel about the changes that Rigaud made and whether or not this retelling kept the fun and poignancy of the original material.

Ms. Rigaud has taken the classic plot of Pride and Prejudice and given it a modern update with an infusion of rock and roll.  In this retelling, Darcy, Bingley, and Richard Fitzwilliam are members of a famous rock band known as Slurry who are in need of a new opening act.  Through a variety of circumstances, they are introduced to the all-girl group Long Borne Suffering with Elizabeth and Jane Bennet and Charlotte Lucas.  This sets up the familiar plot of Pride and Prejudice along with some much appreciated alterations.

The significant change in this retelling was the setting of the rock tour.  The storyline of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star consists of the rise of Long Borne Suffering as a popular band while on tour with Slurry.  I absolutely love music and was fascinated by the details that Rigaud provided.  It was so much fun to see how the characters got to know each other through the performances and how LBS rose in popularity and what pitfalls came along with that fame.  Anybody who is interested in the inside world of rock and roll would appreciate this book. 

The plot also includes a three-way love story between the band members.  Austen fans already know that Darcy and Elizabeth and Jane and Charles will end up together.  An early change, that I personally loved, was the romance between Charlotte and Richard Fitzwilliam.  Richard was one of the characters I've always wanted to know more about in P & P so I really enjoyed getting more of his personality here.  Also, the marriage of Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins, while completely understandable in the original, probably wouldn't have worked out so well here.  Therefore, I really liked how Rigaud switched those situations around to better suit the setting.  And, for Austen purists, rest assured Collins is still in the story and there is a significant scene between him and Charlotte, but nothing approaching the original plot.

Most of the main characters have similar personalities to their original counterparts.  Darcy is handsome, wealthy, and seemingly cold to people around him.  Elizabeth is independent and slightly judgmental.  Jane is beautiful, kind, and compassionate.  George Wickham is a manipulative asshole whose misdeeds involving Georgiana Darcy went beyond the original storyline.  Collins is even creepier in this retelling than in P&P which is hard to imagine, but true.  And Lady Catherine, as the owner of Slurry and LBS's record label, is as vicious and arrogant as ever.

But, there were a few characters who underwent personality adjustments.  Caroline Bingley, one of my most hated characters in P&P, was the biggest surprise.  Caroline, or Caro, is the tour manager for Slurry and has a huge crush on Darcy.  While she resents Elizabeth for catching Darcy's attention, Caro does not sabotage them or her brother's growing relationship with Jane.  Also, Charles Bingley gains more depth in this story than in Austen's original.  The reason behind his separation from Jane has been altered greatly and, in my opinion, makes him a much more interesting character. 

The only characters that I wish we could have gotten more from were Elizabeth and Jane's family.  So much of P&P dealt with the Bennet family and we did not get much here.  There were a few scenes that suggested the situations of the family and I understand that it would have been difficult to do with the setting, but I couldn't help missing Lydia and Kitty's hijinks, Mary's philosophical lectures, and Mrs. Bennet's flightiness. 

Also, like in Pride and Prejudice, we get very little interaction with Georgiana.  She is mentioned regularly by Darcy, Bingley, Caro, and others, but the scene where Elizabeth meets her is short and doesn't provide much depth.  Of course, this is in keeping with Austen's development of Georgiana so it is probably wishful thinking on my part that we could learn more about her. 

All in all, I believe Ms. Rigaud was able to take the themes of Austen's original and successfully update it while still retaining its importance.  One of the biggest things I always got out of Pride and Prejudice was the importance of not judging people since you never know what the other person is dealing with.  I feel like Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star showcased this theme and kept it modern for the setting.  I look forward to more work from Ms. Rigaud. 

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  1. I have to admit I had not hear of this book before your review, and I LOVE Pride and Prejudice so I probably would have been really reluctant to read it. But it actually sounds really good! I'm going to have to add it to my read pile.

  2. This is a really interesting concept. Wow, this book looks interesting.

    I also love the name and origin of your blog. It's awesome !


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