Cover of Compulsively Mr. Darcy by Nina Benneton Compulsively Mr. Darcy by Nina Benneton. Sourcebooks Landmark (February 1, 2012). ISBN: 978-1402262494. 359 Pages. (Amazon: $9.89 / Kindle: $9.99).

It’s all the rage to adopt a child in a foreign country — and engenders more social status if the child is dissimilar to the adopting couple in ethnicity. So, Mr. and Mrs. Hurst have decided to adopt a child. Charles Bingley decided they needed someone responsible to come along so he invited William Darcy — that it would also get Darcy out of the office was a plus. So, Bingley, Darcy, the Hursts, and Caroline are in Da Nang, Vietnam, to meet with the managing director of Gracechurch Orphange, Jane Bennet, and hopefully pick up their child.

On the way to their hotel, they end up in a traffic jam. Charles can’t stand sitting still so he hops out and asks a man riding a bicycle carrying a load of live chickens if he can try riding it. Of course he falls, scattering chickens and managing to gash his leg badly enough to require stitches. Darcy swings into action and learns of a local hospital with an American doctor, and hires a bicycle taxi to take them there. Darcy can’t bring himself to enter the hospital due to his fear of germs and painful associations, so he opts to wait outside.

When the waiting becomes intolerably longer than it should be, in Darcy’s opinion, he seeks out Bingley only to find him still waiting for treatment. Darcy is outraged and demands to see the doctor while lifting the towel over Bingley’s leg. A glimpse of the blood on Bingley’s leg causes Darcy to faint. A clog prodding his face trying to bring him to consciousness is his first introduction to Dr. Elizabeth Bennet. Neither comes out of this encounter proud of their actions.

Thus begins, Compulsively Mr. Darcy by Nina Benneton. This modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice contains many of Austen’s beloved characters: The Bennets, Darcy and Georgiana, Fitzwilliam, Anne and Catherine de Bourgh, Wickham, Mrs. Reynolds, and a couple of surprises from another Austen novel. However, Benneton has updated them by examining their characteristics and matching them to current medical labels. For example, Mr. Darcy, who we know wants to protect those he cares about and takes all his commitments to others including his tenants and servants very seriously, suffers from, as title of the book implies, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Charles Bingley, on the other hand, has recently been diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). You can see that Pride and Prejudice makes this seem a very logical character choice from this quote:


“Oh!” cried Miss Bingley, “Charles writes in the most careless way imaginable. He leaves out half his words, and blots the rest.”

“My ideas flow so rapidly that I have not time to express them — by which means my letters sometimes convey no ideas at all to my correspondents.”

Being a modern retelling of the story, not only were the characters updated, but the story was revamped to fit into our current society. Darcy is, of course, rich. He’s CEO of DDF (Darcy, Darcy, and Fitzwilliam). Fitzwilliam, his cousin, is a vice president. Bingley also works there. Meanwhile, Jane Bennet, as you’d expect from her patient and loving nature, is a social worker now running an orphanage founded by Aunt Mai and Uncle Gardner while recovering from an abusive relationship. Elizabeth is an doctor specializing in infectious diseases. She moved to Vietnam with Jane to keep her company. The relative social status is maintained as Mr. Bennet is a college professor. The Bennets are middle class and, while not hurting for money, do not spend it wildly either.

My only reservation about the characters is that the Elizabeth Bennet of the original was a great student of character until she allowed her first impressions to cause her to assign to Mr. Darcy characteristics he didn’t actually deserve, after which she became more careful of her judgements. This Elizabeth is impulsive and quick to judge others with minimal data. She makes life changing decisions without consulting those involved in her decisions and without input from those close to her who might be effected. Being a doctor who also does research in her field, this particular implementation of her character seemed too much of a contradiction. How could she possibly maintain her position as one of the top infectious disease specialist and be so incredibly flakey? Other readers may not have as much difficulty with this aspect of her character, but I wanted to make sure she met a very large clue stick. In other areas, it was incredible how these two very different people turned out to be just right for each other — and that takes clever writing when trying to be true to well-loved characters in a new environment and the changes that requires.

While Compulsively Mr. Darcy maintains the fractious nature of the original character’s relationship as they grow towards understanding and love, the details have changed radically since society and social mores are now very different from those of Austen’s time. As with many romances, there are sex scenes. For some traditionalists, this may be off-putting. However, the sex is steamy, fairly graphic (including phone sex), but easily skipped over if you like dislike such scenes. There are also several subplots that deal with today’s problems of inappropriate sexual contact.

Well written, witty, comedic and serious by turns, Compulsively Mr. Darcy has it all — quirky characters, evil villains, surprises, disappointments, and a great love story.

NOTE: Remember, I love to hear from my readers so if you’ve read the book or plan to let me know what you think.

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I got a link to this video today from a friend.  It’s on “The Future of Publishing”.    If you’ve been seeing the recent bru-ha-ha about ebooks and their various readers and the pricing of ebooks for consumers, it’s possible to get the impression that books and reading are a thing of the past.  Roll this belief in with the belief that young people  don’t read, have short attention spans and don’t know anything about the world around them .  This set of ideas and beliefs are what seem to be driving much of today’s marketing.

I enjoyed the video.  Using the  same message to express two totally opposite points of view is amazingly well done.  It feed into the widely held beliefs and then turns them on their head.

Publishing isn’t dead.  I’ve got a Kindle and I love it.  I’ve  also got tons of  traditional books. I say tons because in the last move we had more books in boxes to move than the total of all other items we moved from our apartment to our house.  I love reading and can’t imagine a time when I won’t read.  If my eyes fail me — I’ll get the Kindle to read to me with its Hawking’s voice (imagine having a great physicist read to you).

What is most likely to kill publishing is the unwillingness of the industry to move forward.  The world has changed.  They way people live their lives has changed and they need to change with it.  I’ll still read books on paper but the Kindle is what I take when I travel.  As a computer programmer/software analyst who has helped put together a book or two to be published — I know that an electronic books should not be priced more than a paperback.  There’s a big difference between making a paper-book only and then using the same file to create an electronic version and not having storage and distribution issues.

I had several books on my electronic wish list at Amazon until the pricing thing happened.  Now those books are too expensive.  I’ll buy them at a library sale or in a used books store.  Electronic would have been nice but I’m not paying nearly hardcover sale prices for an electronic book.  It’s the same reason I don’t buy DVD until they hit the below $10 sales (they should never cost more than $10 anyway). Corporations should make a profit off their work but since the creative artists aren’t the ones reaping the benefits of these too-high prices — it’s the must-make-even-more-profit that’s driving the bus.  People will buy your product but only when it’s useful, usable, and priced appropriately.  Otherwise most of us can find other ways to spend our money.

Companies should learn to listen to their customers.  You know the people who actually buy or are expected to buy the products you produce.  Listen and learn.

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Blackberry PerlIt has rained all day today.  It seems like it’s rained more than not lately.  Matches my mood though since I’ve been headachy and out of sorts — maybe flu maybe not.  Hyperion though definitely has the flu but is back to work (out of sick time).  Luckily the Thanksgiving holiday is coming up so he’ll get a long weekend — hopefully that will help.  Telecommuting would help but contractors are not allowed to telecommute (not that the govies are allowed to either).

Anyway, I ran into this article the other day on “Ten things mobiles have made, or will make obsolete” on recombu.com. The ten things listed are: phone booths, wristwatches, bedside alarm clocks, mp3 players, landline home phones, compact digital cameras, netbooks, handheld game consoles, paper, and brains. The author gives a reason for each choice.

I found the list and the reason interesting. However, computers were supposed to get rid of the need for paper. Remember the paperless office? Well, we still have paper — lots and lots of paper. Can’t see that it’s reduced in amount just because a copy of each document is electronic.

It’s the phones screen size that doesn’t work. I’m older and even though you can increase the font size somewhat on the smartphones it’s not a pleasant experience for long term use. Though for emergencies and for keeping in touch or just giving you something to do while stuck somewhere the phone is taking the place of many gadgets.

One that was not on the list was books. Many phones now have software so you can read books on your phone. Of course I’ve got my Kindle but I know many people who read on their mobiles.

I don’t carry a watch anymore. My cell has the time in a small window on the front. I don’t listen to music on it because my mobile phone is older. I may upgrade to a blackberry or android-type soon but I’m happy with what I’ve got for now because I have an iPod, a Kindle, a digital camera that fits in my purse along with my netbook.

The problem with a mobile taking on the jobs of all those items is that when you lose one — the phone — you’ve lost them all. If I lose my phone, well I’ve lost the phone but I still have the music, camera, computer, and books. So, while having one item instead of five is seductive — the thought of losing everything because one item died is just too scary for me right now.

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Kindle 2I’m happy dancing all over the house. I got my Kindle 2 in the mail today — late, very late afternoon.

Then it was Google time to figure out how to get the PDF review copies of books from my PC to my Kindle so I could read them. Many minutes/hours later, I ended up using Stanza (free download).

The resulting files aren’t the greatest but they are readable and they’re on the Kindle so I’m not tied to the PC and desk — so that’s a good thing.

Next will be to actually spend a day using it but now I’m behind schedule — again and the next two days are going to be really, really busy getting ready for the zines to go live on Sunday, March 1st.

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Kindle 2For Christmas, I got a Kindle. Well, if you’ve been keeping an eye on the Kindle newsbits, I had a Kindle ordered for me for Christmas with a delivery date in March. Waiting has been difficult and still is.

Then, my hubby got the word from Amazon that the Kindle I’d be receiving would be the Kindle 2 rather than the original Kindle he ordered. I thought about it and looked again at the Kindle 2 features and now I’m all kinds of excited by this news. At first, I wanted to stay with the original because I liked the keyboard better and the sliding bar rather than the new keyboard and joy-stick key. But when I look at all the other upgrades and features, I find that they far outweigh the joy-stick and keyboard. So, I’m psyched again to get it.

I essentially read for a living. Well, I review books and that involves a lot of reading. With the downward spiral of the economy, many publishers are having to cut somewhere to save money and keep the books coming. That means fewer advanced reading copies (ARCs) and several publishers have already contacted me about PDFs. If they send PDFs as ARCs there’s no printing costs. However, many people don’t like reading on screen. I’d asked for the Kindle for Christmas because I could see the changes coming and I didn’t want to be chained to my laptop or desktop to read — not that my desk chair isn’t comfy but I like to curl up in my chair-and-a-half and read with a cuppa tea or sit on the deck or in the garden. Now I can — or I can when I get my Kindle.

The new Kindle 2 has a read aloud feature. I reported here about Text Aloud, a program that reads PDFs and text files to you in a sort of Stephen Hawking’s voice. Well, the new Kindle 2 has a similar feature. It seems that some people (the Author’s Guild) object. I found two articles on this today: BLORGE’s Kindle 2 prompts “reading Aloud” copyright claim and The Wall Street Journal’s New Kindle Audio Feature Causes a Stir. I can’t believe that anyone would take this claim seriously. It’s not like the book is being copied, and hearing it read by a computer synthesized voice is nowhere near the same as listening to an audio version of the book. It’s not like if I have a choice I’d pick the computer synth-voice over the acting and emoting human voice.

What’s next suing parents for reading to their children before bed. What about reading a bit of an article or a few paragraphs to your partner or friend or coworker in the next cubicle — violation of copyright. I’m also a struggling writer and I have a lot of interest in seeing that intellectual property and copyright are upheld but this argument is totally ridiculous and seems more for getting publicity and making themselves look foolish rather than being a real concern for their members. Obviously they haven’t learned from RIAA’s and MPAA’s mistakes — the more you cry wolf and demonize your users/readers/buyers the less respect you get (though in the case of those two their bottom lines prove them wrong in their basic assumptions — but that is another whole copyright rant…) Deep breath, relax…

I’m anxiously waiting for the message that says my Kindle has been shipped. Once I get it and use it a bit, I’ll probably have a bit more to say about it. Meanwhile, I’m counting the days…

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