Reviews, Romance

Review: Unleashing Mr. Darcy

Unleashing Mr. DarcyUnleashing Mr. Darcy by Teri Wilson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I discovered Teri Wilson’s Unleashing Mr. Darcy after it was turned into a movie for the Hallmark Channel and since it was made into a Hallmark movie, I was not expecting the book to be as steamy as it was. That’s not a complaint; there are plenty of those coming.
Unleashing Mr. Darcy is yet another modern take on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice – this one set in the world of dog shows. I’m almost positive going that these retellings will only disappoint me but my love for Austen’s original masterpiece keeps me going back for more. Unleashing Mr. Darcy was not an exception. I’ve come to see that these retellings often disappoint in the same regard – the characterization of Mr. Darcy. Austen herself just danced a fine line to make him not seem like an arrogant jerk before showing him to be the honorable man he is. Modern writers attempt to remedy this by doing the one thing Austen didn’t do. They show the reader Darcy’s side of the story. Wilson’s attempt at this did not work. Donovan Darcy’s inner turmoil is even more aggravating than his hot and cold treatment of Elizabeth. And Mr. Darcy does not wink!
If the characterization of Mr. Darcy is flawed in Wilson’s adaptation, Elizabeth totally misses the mark. Sure she has a sharp tongue in her verbal sparring with Donovan, but Elizabeth has none of Lizzy Bennett’s confidence and intelligence. It is really difficult to see what Donovan sees in her apart from her looks.
What I did enjoy about Unleashing Mr. Darcy was the glimpse into the dog show world and the canine characters (and the cute shoutout to Keeping Up Appearances!). I enjoy watching dog shows and I love dogs but I think I’m just ignorant enough to find the dog show scenes entertaining. I have a feeling that Wilson took a few artistic licenses there. In short, like watching dog shows, Unleashing Mr. Darcy was a diverting bit of fluff that probably would have been enjoyed more by someone who doesn’t love Pride and Prejudice quite as much as I do.

If you enjoy reading modernized takes on classics, particularly Pride and Prejudice and would like to read a good (and very modern) retelling, I recommend Curtis Sittenfeld’s EligibleThe book was part of The Austen Project where some of today’s popular writers wrote modern versions of four of Austen’s novels.  I’ve read three of them – Eligible, Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope, and Emma by Alexander McCall Smith.

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Review: Watership Down

Watership Down
Watership Down by Richard Adams

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This falls under the category of ‘I should have read this in school’. Watership Down was a Summer Reading choice when I was in middle school but with a title like Watership Down, I thought it was about sailing. If I’d known it was a tale of rabbits, I might have read it. If I wasn’t daunted by its size (back then I tended to choose my required reading based on size and that rarely worked out for me). Even after I learned that Watership Down is the story of a group of rabbits that bravely leave their burrow to escape an unknown danger based entirely on one rabbit’s faith, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What it is is an adventure tale filled with danger and suspenseful moments.
It is also a well-researched novel, full of facts about the nature of rabbits (and other creatures) and descriptions of their environment. Yet this attention to detail doesn’t make the story drag; they serve to make the story even more real. There are times, though, when it seems to be going by slowly despite the many thrilling predicaments the lapine characters find themselves in. Rather than being a flaw, I feel that this shows Richard Adams’s (RIP) mastery. With the steady stream of dangers, worries, and stories he somehow demonstrated how big the world seems to these small creatures with their many enemies (those they know and those they discover along the way). The main action of the story apparently takes place over a matter of days (a couple of weeks tops) rather than weeks or months and the ground they cover a matter of some few miles. Watership Down explores many themes that are still relevant today – faith, leadership, courage, the balance of nature, and the importance of cleverness and intelligence (as well as many more). I believe that this powerful book is important and will remain so as long as humans live alongside other animals and each other. For more information on the story and the journey of Watership Down, this site has a nice little run down and a map: https://www.tripline.net/trip/Watersh…
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Review: The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs

The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs
The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs by Nick Trout
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs may be the story of a small town veterinarian but it is less about the animals and the funny tales a veterinarian can tell than it is about redemption and forgiveness. I enjoyed it even though the ending was just a little too neat and sweet for the tone of the rest of the book. The only parts I really didn’t care for were when Cyrus described in just a little too much detail for me the procedures he was doing on the animals. But I’m squeamish so that’s probably just me. There were some funny moments and I wish there could have been more of those but the heavy stuff as Cyrus comes to grips with the truth about his parents and his own faults was important.

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Puppy Dog Tales

The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs by Nick Trout

Books, as well as filling the recesses of every shelf and table top in my home, fill my heart and my mind.  I am passionate about the power of the written word and I’m not shy about sharing that passion.  Which is just about the only thing I’m not shy about.  So I’m going to be sharing my reading experiences with you.  Let me start with one of the books I’m currently reading (I’m always reading at least two books at any given time).

I started Nick Trout’s novel, The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs, a few days ago.  I’ll admit I’m a little worried.  I’m not much of a crier.  I don’t like to cry and not many books have made me cry but there is one thing sure to choke me up – a touching pet story.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s heartwarming or heartbreaking, tears always spring into my eyes when I hear or read a story of the unconditional love between an animal and its person.  That’s why I have yet to get up the nerve to watch or read Old Yeller or Marley and Me.  I can barely get through an episode of Dogs 101 without feeling that tell-tale tightness in my throat.  And already in my reading of The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs, I got choked up when Cyrus Mills, the veterinary pathologist turned reluctant clinician at the center of the novel visits an elderly pet owner.  The older man talks about how very much his lab mix (a female named Clint, after Clint Eastwood, of course) has meant to him as old age and infirmity take hold of his life.  And here comes the lump in my throat.  Thankfully, the heart wrenching is countered with what is turning out to be a delightful cast of quirky, small-town characters.  I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next.  As long as there aren’t too many tears along the way.