For my first, and probably only, foray into James Bond this was definitely a good one. Compared to other spy novels I’ve read like The Talented Mr. Ripley or The Thin Man, I enjoyed this one the most! I’m not sure if it is because of the history of the novel, or because of the character James Bond.
So it will come as no surprise, that this is my local library’s books into movies book group February read. What is surprising is that I suggested it. I did so because for some random reason, I have always been obsessed with the title—it’s one of those iconic titles that everyone knows and for some reason it’s always stuck with me even though I’ve never seen the movie or read the book. The second reason is that it’s February and well, Valentine’s Day. And finally Caroline made another connection: oh Russia, like Sochi, and the Olympics. So yet another great reason.
After seeing this on Heather’s blog Between the Covers (direct link to her review) and seeing her recommend it to many other people over the intervening years and knowing we have similar book tastes I knew I needed to read this novel.
This was a fascinating take on (post) identity politics in a (potentially) war-torn country. It was incredibly difficult to decide how much was seriousness, criticism, sarcasm or some other commentary. I had a brief conversation with Heather about the book because I was so confused as I started reading it that I thought it might be a translation. In the end I felt Veselka did a great job but I’m still not quite sure what form of commentary she was using. The combination of the identity politics versus the environmental (both natural and manmade) issues made for a really interesting read. Veselka’s writing and story telling reminded me of a less controlled and less refined Margaret Atwood, so of course I was going to enjoy it.
I’d love to say that Fowles’ mentioning of Jane Austen didn’t sway me, but of course it did a little, but overall that was minuscule compared to the mastery Fowles showed in this novel and he mentioned Austen and her works MULTIPLE times! But it wasn’t this that made the book so great, it was the omniscient unidentified narrator and the breaking of the fourth wall (I guess it’s called that in reading as well).
What can I say about a book like this? Not only was it giggle inducing and full of fun and even some drama, it was an easy read and left me wanting so much more on the last page! I’m honestly not sure the last time I blazed through an Austen fan-fiction novel as fast as I did with this one. I’m so happy I requested a copy from the publisher and I received no compensation for my response. Unleashing Mr. Darcy will be published on December 31 by Harlequin and EVERYONE should check it out.
So I’ll start out with my biggest concern: I was TERRIFIED this book was going to be yet another S&M/50 Shades effort, but thankfully it was not! I mean seriously, what could I think with the cover art and the title!? Looking back now the title and cover art make perfect sense and would’ve made even more sense if I would’ve re-read the back cover blurb, but oh well the dread only added to the buildup.
I planned to talk about how I wish I could say it is the romance that draws me obsessively to this novel, and in a way it is, but ultimately I know it is something much darker than that. For me this novel’s draw is its darkness, it’s the depth and light absorbing pit of Heathcliff’s devotion to his plans, no matter who they harm or what they require, throughout the years to achieve his ends. I can only imagine what this reveals about my personality and my own decisions in life.
As much as I am drawn to Pride and Prejudice (and Jane Austen in general) for its whimsy and lightness, I can’t help but appreciate and truly resonate with the depths of despair and the tortuousness all three Brontë sisters write about. And I don’t know why, it’s not like I’ve had a tragic love story. I mean sure I’ve had my fair share of unrequited love stories (more often than not), but I know that I’ll get over them and eventually find someone who loves me for me and I love them for them and we just click, but for some reason these darker novels resound with me on a deeper level. It’s as if they touch a part of me that I know is there but am too afraid to even consider bringing to the surface out of fear or terror of what I might actually feel if I let myself.