If not Mr. Darcy, who?

Ask any romantic fiction author for the name of the fictional man they’d most like to invite to an intimate dinner for two, and I bet the majority would say Mr. Darcy. That, too, would be my knee-jerk response – if I were thinking of Mr. Darcy in the films of Pride and Prejudice, and not in the book.

My battered, much-read copy of Pride and Prejudice

I'm sure that no words are needed. Thank you, Wikipedia, for reminding us of this moment

Pride and Prejudice - Lizzy and Darcy. A scene frrom the TV mini-series, courtesy of Wikipedia

Upon reflection, however, if I concentrate on Mr. Darcy as he appears in the novel and not in the film or TV mini-series, I’m not sure that I would like to spend an evening with him.

He doesn’t have the greatest sense of humour, and I think humour in a man is very attractive. And I don’t see him as a great conversationalist. Whilst I’m not averse to delivering the odd monolgue or three, I’m not sure that I want to be too hoarse to whisper a response to the sweet nothings at the end of the evening.

Thinking about it, much of Mr. Darcy’s attraction is his wealth – yes, I’m getting that out of the way at the start

Lyme Park, Cheshire, served as the exterior of Mr. Darcy's Pemberley. Courtesy of Wikipedia

– and then there’s his ability to take control in a difficult situation and act in a positive manner for all concerned. Plus, Lizzy loves him, and we like Lizzy.

The sense of being safe and protected by him is one of his most attractive features. And this, more than wealth, I suspect is the characteristic that attracts us most strongly to a man. Wealth is very nice, but as we’re all going to win the lottery before too long, it isn’t essential.

I thought around for an extremely attractive male fictional character who is quite poor. It didn’t take long. Dr. Fortunati in The Nun’s Story, by Kathryn Hulme, instantly sprang to mind.

Another much-loved book from my shelves

Like so many books that are made into films, the book was much better than the film. I read it years ago, and for a while was set on being a nun – provided that I looked like Audrey Hepburn in a wimple and was sent to a Congo hospital to work under Dr. Fortunati. (I ignored the teeny problem that I faint whenever I see a hypodermic syringe)

Dr. Fortunati was poor in terms of wealth, but he was hard-working and caring of others. He had character, a sense of humour and he would have have been able to cope in any situation. The fact that he was ruggedly good-looking didn’t hurt, either!

Peter Finch in I Thank a Fool, courtesy of Wikipedia

I think that at heart, we all want to be protected by, and to feel safe in the care of, the person we’re with. This means more than a man owning vast, probably chilly estates. For this reason, I’d invite Dr. Fortunati to join me for dinner, not Mr. Darcy.

So with whom would you like to have an intimate dinner?


  • John Thornton, as played by Richard Armitage. Enough said.

    • Liz:

      ABSOLUTELY. I loved him in that. I love the book, too. I’d fight you for him, and I’m bigger than you!

  • John Jackson:

    Perhaps the fact that Peter Finch, Colin Firth, Lawrence Olivier, etc. are (according to my wife) not totally unattractive in the facial/torso department, will shade most people’s opinion.
    How would you feel if Darcy had been played by, say, Charles Laughton, Ron Perleman or Gerald Depardieu. Or indeed, Marty Feldman or Shane McGowan!! Or – coming at it from another tack, say, Rupert Everett or Rock Hudson. “Doomed to disappointment!”

  • Such a good question and I may have to spend the afternoon debating the candidates pros and cons…who needs to write!

    But I loved the post and agree 🙂


    • Liz:

      Jean’s idea – John Thornton was a good one. Might be a bit too silent, though. He’s not unalike Mr. Darcy.

  • Mr Rochester. He’s got it all. The Timothy Dalton one from TV in 1983-ish. But Mr R would probably find me rather shallow and boring and wordly, not like his beloved Jane 🙂

    • Liz:

      I agree that Mr, Rochester has a sense of humour (I liked the physignomy exchange with Jane – I hope I’ve spelt that right). And he has a bit more than that when played by Timothy Dalton! Yes, he’s a maybe. Thank you for that.

  • If it’s only dinner… I’d like to sit between Rupert Black and Renaud (husband of Claudine) please. But I’d like to leave the party with Sergeant Troy, though I wouldn’t want him still to be around in the morning because I’d need to be free to whiz over to the Delauney for a hugely entertaining breakfast with Bertie Wooster.

  • Joanna Hickson:

    I think I might go for Pip from Great Expectations – only problem is that he’s so hung up on Estelle that he would probably stand me up! He’s been played by some cracking actors though. :-))

    • Liz:

      I can’t forget that Pip was pretty mean to Joe. I know It All Came Out all Right in the end, but I can’t forgive him that. No, I won’t fight you for him.

  • Well Omar Shariff as Dr Zhivago. I read Russian Studies at Uni because of that man, that film, that book and both novel ( I have read it four times) and film are brilliant and stand the test of time, even if Omar was young so long ago. I don’t know if he is still alive in fact so I might just dine with a ghost instead!

    • Liz:

      I have a feeling that he’s still alive. If you knew about moves in bridge, your conversation would turn out trumps.

  • Hi Liz, what a great post. Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite books, read many times with the best first line I think. Mr Darcy is a bit monosyllabic in the book. I agree that sense of humour is attractive in a man and I’m lucky because wit is one of my husband’s plus points…! I wouldn’t mind dinner with James Bond (the book version or Sean Connery-in his youth film version). Tom Cuthbert, the hero in Judith Kinghorn’s novel, ‘The Last Summer’-which I read recently isn’t bad either.

    • Liz:

      Hmm. Sean Connery’s come up several times. I fear that he might be too anxious to live up to his James Bond persona, and that if this was his aim, it would be the death of interesting, humorous conversation.

  • It would have to be Inspector Morse for me. Grumpy exterior but always discovers the truth and so clever he’d be fascinating.

    • Liz:

      Many thanks for your comment, Cara. I like Inspector Morse, too. He’d certainly have some interesting tales to tell. I shall be seeing Colin Dexter next week and I shall tell him that you chose Morse. I also liked his younger incarnation in Endeavour.

  • Would you be so kind as to put them all in a room for me to study them in detail before I can give you my verdict? These questions can’t be answered willy-nilly 🙂

    • Liz:

      By the time that I let you into the room where they will all have been locked up with me, they’d be a shadow of their former selves and you wouldn’t want any of them!

  • Penelope Overton:

    Sergeant Brody.

    • Liz:

      Oh, yes!! Provided that his waistcoat was a sparkly one for the right reasons. Good suggestion, Penelope.

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