The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy by Sara Angelini is loosely based upon Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Fitzwilliam Darcy is the youngest judge appointed to the bench of San Francisco and Meryton is not a town in England, but a town outside of San Francisco, California. Elizabeth Bennet is an attorney with Gardiner & Associates, and the lead attorney is not her uncle Mr. Gardiner, but her boss. California has laws about fraternization between judges and attorneys who work on the same cases, and when sparks fly between Elizabeth and Will, it becomes a sticky situation.
“‘So, what are you doing during the first two weeks of June?’ Jane asked. Elizabeth switched the phone cradle to her other ear and spread the California Bar Journal in the desk before her.
‘Um, same thing as usual. Bill ten hours and work fourteen. Go home, eat Lean Cuisine over the sink, and go to bed convinced I’m never going to meet Mr. Right. I blame Mom. Oh, and I’ll probably have Lou give me a massage.'” (Page 63 of ARC)
Angelini has a brash style all her own in this modern take on these famous characters, but readers could find the explicit sex scenes and sometimes crass language tough to take if they are looking for the same Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam. However, The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy exhibits the dynamics of modern relationships well, from the frenzied first glimpses of attraction to the obsessive first moments together and more.
Elizabeth and Darcy spar well in the courtroom before they realize their attraction, but attorneys, clients, and readers will cringe at the biting remarks they make to one another in the courtroom following a break from the realities of California.
“‘How did it go?’ he asked anxiously.
‘I’ve got competition,’ Elizabeth replied.
‘Lady Boobs-a-Lot?’ he asked, referring to Caroline.
‘Yep. She’s catty too.’
‘I know you. You can match her bitch-slap for bitch-slap.'” (Page 251 of ARC)
Readers will enjoy this retelling, though they should expect differences in the characters’ personalities from Elizabeth’s greater outspoken nature and stubbornness to Lou Hurst, Elizabeth’s gay friend and confidante. Jane is in the novel with Bingley–both work at the hospital in Meryton–but their love story is more of a sideline and is derailed less by Darcy and more by Jane’s need to defend her sister against Bingley’s sister, Caroline.
Overall, The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy by Sara Angelini could have been its own stand-alone chicklit novel without the references to Pride & Prejudice, but the modern spin Angelini gives to the characters and the plot makes the novel a quick, fun read. A great way to spend a lazy afternoon.
This is the second book or third item I’ve completed for the Everything Austen Challenge 2009.