Story Title: Mr. Darcy Came to Dinner
Author Name: Jack Caldwell
Story Url: Story Link 1
Alternate Url: Story Link 2 – Published Version
Content Rating: All Ages
Length: 86,400 words
Story Summary: In the spirit of that masterpiece of farce, The Man Who Came to Dinner by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, comes this little tale from author Jack Caldwell. Mr. Darcy has a little spill and is forced to remain at Longbourn, guest of the Bennets. Sorry, Miss Jane Austen, but canon just got tossed out of the window! Hold on to your hat, folks—it’s going to be a bumpy ride!
I’ve been eagerly awaiting the completion of this story since I first saw that Jack Caldwell had begun writing it. His stories, among which is an excellent published novel, are always fun to read and I’ve yet to be disappointed by one in the slightest. When Mr. Darcy is injured at Longbourn, Elizabeth has not yet learned to like him, he has not yet learned to control his pride and ego, and the Bennets are as unchecked in their behavior as ever. Forcing the lot of them into each other’s company will either cause Longbourn to implode, or bring about a better understanding much sooner, and among a broader group of individuals, than was seen in canon.
Jack’s wry sense of humor sets the tone, though of course the story’s source material and farcical inspiration certainly help! The story is not a pure comedy, though. I loved the insightful characterizations, and I’m particularly fond of Jack’s depiction of Lizzy’s younger sisters. Lydia, in particular, is masterfully portrayed here. I also really loved the dynamic characterization of Mr. Bennet. He is by turns surly, witty, misanthropic, loving and irate. In short, he’s an extremely well-rounded character and never dull for a moment. Additionally, the author introduces several minor OCs (original characters) who are equally well-written. I got quite a kick out of Mr. Darcy’s man, Bartholomew, who has a fantastic superciliousness about him, providing the reader with some truly delicious put-downs to snicker over. Still, in spite of the humorous elements within this story, it is probably more apt to consider this a character-driven piece.
Another gift of the author’s is his natural blending of canon elements and lines within his own story. There were many times when I had to stop and question whether I was reading something penned by Jane Austen or by Jack Caldwell. However, he never came close to touching upon my pet peeve: that is, leaning so heavily upon canon text that the fanfiction begins to feel like a mere regurgitation of the original. This story is very much Jack’s.
My Only Critique: About the only story critique which I can think to include in this rec tells far more about me than it does about “Mr. Darcy Came to Dinner.” As I often admit here, I am terribly angst phobic. Therefore the brief flippancy in the story summary — “it’s going to be a bumpy ride!” — left me very nervous that the story would include extremely distressing moments. As it turns out, that is not at all the case, as is also indicated by the story’s “fluff” rating on the JAFF Index‘s angst scale. The reference to a “bumpy ride” is both literal, i.e., a bumpy ride upon a horse, and figurative, in that Mr. Darcy’s world is shaken up.
There. I did indicate that this wouldn’t be the best example of literary critique ever written, and I obviously meant it. 🙂