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The Red Chrysanthemum Paperback – 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
(Please do not read on if you are worried about some mild spoilers.)
Like most of you, I am a big fan of the book Pride and Prejudice and the BBC movie based on it. I know the story extremely well. I noticed immediately that this novel would deviate from the original plot. I was a little surprised by this, but I was willing to see where the author would go with it. I was a bit disappointed that she would feel that she could improve on such a classic, but I thought I would give her a chance. Had she used the slight plot twists to introduce a fun new element to the story, I would have possibly enjoyed it. However, she instead used this device to have the characters act completely unrealistic and ridiculous. All of the conversations and thoughts expressed by the characters were so moronic that I literally laughed out loud multiple times. Mr. Darcy, in particular, is darn right cheesy. None of the characters rang true to me. The whole flowers motif also seemed contrived and a bit childish.
Despite this and because of my love for these characters and the story itself, I held on, remembering those wonderful reviews and five stars. I thought, surely the ending will be good. Well, I was wrong. Somehow, she managed to completely insult and degrade my two favorite literary characters of all time in one fell swoop. There's romantic and sexy, which is what I expected, and then there's completely unrealistic and crude, which is what the author delivered. I'm not a prude, but I did NOT enjoy my favorite heroine being compared to a prostitute. Also, I know that it may be historically correct, but having Mr. Darcy learn his sexual prowess from prostitutes simply ruined the romance for me.
I am not one to give a scathing review. Honestly, I'm not, but I do not want one more person to waste their time or money on this "novel". I giving it one star instead of none because at least it did evoke some response out of me.
The characters are believable and the dialogue is engaging. Of course, neither story is a carbon copy of Jane Austen's original (how could it be? they are variations, after all), but I enjoyed all of the twists and turns Beutler's Elizabeth and Darcy confronted during this tale. The characters were robust, emotionally engaging, and playful to the end. I know some will find a certain gentleman's musings on his (meagre) earlier experiences with women distasteful (at least according to some earlier comments), but I found nothing shocking in them and they're nothing if not historically accurate... In fact, they seem pretty chaste by many standards.
I would absolutely read it again, but first I will conquer the rest of the author's works. :)