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Dating Mr. Darcy: The Smart Girl's Guide to Sensible Romance Review by Krystin Corneilson

Sarah Arthur
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
(800) 323-9400
351 Executive Drive
Carol Stream, IL 60188

As soon as my 13-year-old daughter saw Dating Mr. Darcy advertised, she knew she wanted to read it. That's because she and I have enjoyed the Jane Austen-inspired Pride and Prejudice movies together--over and over! This book is aimed at teen girls, with the goal of using Mr. Darcy as a model for potential suitors.

After a brief introduction as to why and how the late author Jane Austen can offer modern teens dating advice, Arthur delves into peer pressure and promiscuity and how to avoid both. She covers family, friends, and faith and rounds out the lessons with a section on the art of reflection. Each chapter is sprinkled with appropriate excerpts from the book Pride and Prejudice, is written in a girlfriend's conversational style, and finishes up with the bottom line, or "When It's All Said and Done." She has created code words and tests that smack of a teen girl's slumber party.

In the back of the book, the author offers resources for reflection, including prayer journal prompts and diary writing suggestions. There are also guides to identify the characters and places in Pride and Prejudice, just in case you've forgotten them (we hadn't!).

This format of the book is flexible enough to be used as a mother-daughter study or as a small group study for teen girls or simply to be read straight through.

Pros: It's always great to find an educational Christian book written so that teens want to read it. Jane Austen was a Christian, and her faith is well explained, exemplified, and woven throughout the book. I was pleased to realize the Christian reasons for liking Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy!

On the Tyndale website, there are useful links to the author's website, as well as one to a leader's guide for this book. Sarah Arthur has written several other devotional books for teens, based on the writings of C. S. Lewis, so if your daughter appreciates this book, there are others.

Cons: I cringed at the author's oft-used word "hot" to describe boys/young men. I realize it's a common term to describe cute boys, but I'd rather not have my young teen daughter use it to describe a potential spouse. It's too provocative. Plus, it seems to contradict the other meatier, more positive, parts of the book.

When my 13-year-old daughter read the book, she noticed that there was little prompting to include parents in the "dating" equation and that courting, our family's preferred method of spouse selection, was completely left out.

Finally, although references to current TV shows (like Friends) may make the book relevant or "hip" to (older) teenagers now, they will quickly date the book for future readers.

The bottom line is that this book can be a positive way to help open the lines of communication about dating or courting with your Jane Austen-loving teenage daughter. Who knows? You may end up watching Pride and Prejudice together, again, and have a whole new appreciation for the gems of knowledge that were waiting there for you and your daughter to uncover.

Product review by Krystin Corneilson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2010