The Passions of Dr. Darcy
Dr. George Darcy, uncle to the famous Fitzwilliam Darcy of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, embarks on his career with the East India Company in Bombay in 1789. Young, arrogant, but a master diagnostician, he proves his worth to his superiors. He also falls in love with India, though his attempts at finding a steady woman are less successful. After two failures of the heart, he travels with Indian Dr. Ullas, learning Hindu medicine and teaching English medical techniques to the natives. When Ullas unexpectedly dies, Darcy is drawn to the man’s beautiful wife. Here, at last, George discovers true love, but more tragedy will haunt him and his family back home at Pemberley.
Hindu customs and clothing are deftly described, as well as 18th-century medical practices. Dr. Darcy is almost too perfect as a doctor – he’s acclaimed everywhere he travels. Many of the actions are told off-stage in his diary entries. Sexual exploits between the characters prevail over any larger historical context. The story is entertaining, especially for those who take pleasure, as I did, in details of 18th-century medicine and learning about the exotic India of this era.