Dreaming of Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly. Sourcebooks Landmark (January 1, 2012). ISBN: 978-1402251351. Pages 370. (Amazon: $10.19 / Kindle: $9.99)
Kay Ashton’s mother was a patient at The Pines, which is where Kay became friends with Peggy Sullivan. When Kay’s mother died, she continued to visit with Peggy and read to her from Jane Austen’s works. Peggy had lost her sight and she enjoyed having Kay visit and share some of her favorite books. Somehow the age difference between them didn’t make any difference to their wide ranging discussions and shared interests. When Peggy died, she left Kay her entire estate with the hope that Kay would do something amazing.
Reading Persuasion had always made Kay wish that she could live by the sea. With the money Peggy left her, Kay decided to move to Lyme Regis and try to put her art degree to use by putting together her drawings for publication. For years she’d been working on illustrating the works of Jane Austen but had never sent her work out or tried to be published.
Visiting Lyme Regis to see what cottages were available, Kay found nothing she liked in her price range until she happened to see the ad for Wentworth House. It was large enough to be a Bed and Breakfast and thus, even though expensive, would allow Kay to make a living within sight of the Cobb and the sea.
Kay hadn’t even opened her B&B when a burst pipe in a local hotel led to a search for lodging for the director and four of the principle actors of Persuasion. Yes. Kay’s favorite book was being filmed in Lyme Regis. This was indeed a dream come true.
Once all the people are in place, Dreaming of Mr. Darcy is a delightful romantic comedy. Kay, an only child from a broken home, has always lived more in her fantasies than in reality. She can take the wink and smile of a handsome actor and in her mind be picking out their china pattern, children’s names, and where they’ll spend their next several vacations. She doesn’t stop with planning her life around the deeper meanings of kind gestures but tries to match others into happy couples with no actual information on how those people feel about each other — much as Emma Woodhouse tries to match Miss Smith with the vicar, and with about as much luck.
Kay’s flights of fancy are embarrassing as the reader can’t do anything about the train wreck she’s about to make of her life. We can only hope that things work out for the best. After all, Austen managed to pull her main characters together for a wedding at the end and a hopefully happy-ever-after.
This is not about Mr. Darcy or Pride and Prejudice. Dreaming Mr. Darcy is closer to Persuasion since it takes place in Lyme Regis and a movie of the book is the catalyst for much of the action. The story, at heart, is all about second chances and missed opportunities.
While Kay is the main character in the beginning, once the actors appear on the page, the point of view shifts between Kay, Adam Craig (the writer and producer of the film), and Gemma Reilly, who plays Anne in the movie. We don’t have just one romance developing we have several and they all come to a head in Lyme.
Dreaming Mr. Darcy is filled with interesting characters, wonderful descriptions of Lyme Regis and the surrounding countryside, and enough miscommunication and misunderstanding to keep any reader turning its pages.
Tags: Jane Austen, Lyme Regis, Mr. Darcy, Persuasion, Romance, Victoria Connelly