Dating Mr Darcy–The Smart Girl’s Guide to Sensible Romance by Sarah Arthur

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This book offers some really good, sensible advice for choosing a spouse–based on examples from the relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy in Jane Austen’s beloved novel Pride and Prejudice. I’m a big fan of both Austen and that book so I thought this sounded like a fun and interesting book to read. While it does offer good ideas for encouraging a compatible, mature relationship, I found it to be a bit simplified and really religious. That doesn’t mean there is nothing of value in it, but you have to pick and choose which parts can help you and which ones can’t. I would not recommend this book to someone who is an atheist or who doesn’t have at least some Christian beliefs, because religious growth is central to the book and it ends with a strong emphasis on building your relationship with God so that you can better relate to others.

The reason I say the book is simplified is because the author gives tips on making the most of your relationship with family members that may be annoying and dysfunctional. She doesn’t explore the reality that some families are *too* broken to fit with her advice. Her point of view is very much that of a woman who grew up in an idyllic home. (I did not, so it’s hard for me to relate and I will be skipping her much of her advice related to family.) But of course, many people do grow up in happy homes, so those sections will be more helpful for them. She focuses on the idea that our families set the tone for how we will relate to a future lover, which is often true, but doesn’t leave room for other circumstances, (say, a parent who is an addict or dangerous for some reason.)

Now, done complaining and moving on to the good! This is indeed a very sensible book. I have a theory that we have so many failed marriages today because of popular movies and music tricking us into thinking love is always romantic and easy. Well, it’s not. And the dashing romantic date is not necessarily the one that will make a good partner. In this book of dating advice, Sarah Arthur focuses on emotional intelligence and qualities that will last once the initial sex-appeal wears off. People who follow her advice probably are very level-headed people who make wise marriage decisions. For example, she says we need to examine our romance and ask ourselves “are you personally maintaining a healthy sense of your own identity, particularly when it comes to your family, friends, and faith?…Do you have a clear understanding of who this guy really is when it comes to his family, friends, and faith?” (p. xvii.) And this is really the main idea of the book. We need to nurture our relationships with our family, friends and God and watch those same relationships with the men we are interested in.

Overall, this is a thoughtful and introspective book, but it’s fun and light-hearted with lots of references to and examples from Pride and Prejudice.

The section titles are:

Part One: Pressure and Promiscuity

Part Two: Family–Respect, Communication, Integrity

Part Three: Friends–Communication, Respect, Loyalty

Part Four: Faith–Righteousness, Grace

Part Five: The Art of Reflection–Solitude, Self-Analysis, Confession, Moving Forward

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