Rational Creatures edited by Christina Boyd
For those of you who might have missed the last post, Rational Creatures is an anthology of short stories on the different women of Jane Austen:
But just not the main heroines-there are a few other side characters like Miss Bates-and of course a couple of bad girls like Mary Crawford and Mrs. Clay.
Each story gives us a look at the ladies we love (or hate).
The last post was on Elinor and Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility: Self-Composed by Christina Morland and Every Past Affliction by Nicole Clarkston. And I LOVED both of them!
This one will be on Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Lucas from Pride and Prejudice.
Pride and Prejudice is the story of a mother wanting to marry off her daughters, as with their father’s death they will have very little-but the story is more than that. It deals with the concepts of pride and prejudice, first impressions, whether you should be overt in how you feel or play it close to the heart, etc. It has amazing wit and characters.
So Elizabeth is a character that has been adapted again and again. Some have been very good and some have been only okay, and a few have been just awful. To read the ones I have reviewed you can check out this post and this one.
Charlotte on the other hand, I have yet to read anything that just focuses on her. When I saw that, I got very excited. I always thought Charlotte was an interesting character-seen as plain but very intelligent and cunning.
Happiness in Marriage by Amy D’Orazio
The story starts off November 1811, right before the Netherfield Ball, Jane coming up with an idea to do Lizzie’s hair, and like every good sister-wants to try it out before the actual day of the ball. Elizabeth and Jane are talking, when Elizabeth says that she is going to accept Mr. Collins if he proposes.
I was reading this on my lunch break and actually starting choking on my food. WHAT THE HECK DID I JUST READ? I had to read it again!
Reading it again did nothing-the words stayed the same. Oh My Goodness!!! All I could feel was:
I was always interested in the story, but after reading that line, I was super invested. I don’t care how much time is left on my lunch I AM FINISHING this story, right here right now.
I’m just going to stop for a quick moment and go on a side note here…I personally think that it is hard to write a new adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, just because there are so many out there. I have personally reviewed over thirty-and that’s like a drop in the bucket of all the different variations out there.
I mean you really have to think of a different hook, a new view, something unique to set you apart and D’Orazio did that. How she writes this is not for shock value, but she puts a completely different spin on it. Typically we see Elizabeth instantly not liking Mr. Collins and never considering marrying him-but having her think about it, showing how she would sacrifice herself for her sisters-I liked it. We see how much she loves her sisters, especially Jane, I think it fits her character to consider even for a moment if it would protect the people she loves. It made me think of Jane Austen herself. At one time she did become engaged to a man who’s wealth would have solved all the financial issues, but in the end broke it off.
Anyways, the two girls talk as they prepare, and I love their conversations, they sound like real sisters discussing sisterly things.
The two move on to discuss their parent’s marriage and I really loved this passage. True, most women in Regency times didn’t marry for love and often, as Charlotte Lucas says
“happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance…It is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life…”
But I like that they discuss it and think about it. Most people view their parent’s relationship as either a guide to how to be or how we desperately don’t want to be. I like how they also look at their aunts’ and uncles’ relationships.
And I love how she wrote Jane. Jane of course doesn’t like Mr. Collins either- and is about to talk smack about him, but can’t:
“Jane hesitated by her natural inclination to approve of everyone said, ‘Of course, as a clergyman, Mr. Collins is always due respect.”
The girls talk some more, Elizabeth sharing the list she made of her perfect guy, here it is:
- Likes to Read
- Is good to his family and mine
- Likes to walk and be outdoors
- Has a good sense of humor
Okay, just to put a pause on this. Maybe this isn’t as weird as it felt when I was reading this, but no joke I made a list of my perfect guy when I was a tween and this is an exact replica.
Speaking of which, I don’t remember what I did with it. It was in a shoebox under my bed but I lost it when we moved. Did you..did you find it?
Nah, I’m sure many of us had the same list, which made me love it even more!
The ball comes and goes and then we cut to Elizabeth visiting CHarlotte and Mr. DArcy joining her on her walks and I love the wit of D’Orazio, I think Jane would be proud.
They continue on to the second proposal of Mr. Darcy and when they are engaged. The whole story is cute fun, with an adorable ending, like when drinking a cup of tea and it warms you. This story just warms your heart. I loved it!
For more by Amy D’Orazio, go to “For Mischief’s Sake” from Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues
For more on Elizabeth Bennet, go to Call Me, Maybe: Austentatious (2015)
Charlotte’s Comfort by Joana Starnes
So Charlotte has married Mr. Collins and is happy in the home. She likes her gardens, the kitchen, the parsonage. But she does not care for Lady Catherine and all her opinions, in which Mr. Collins implements them right away.
But she is happy, spending most of her time alone. She does miss her family and friends, but she is content in what she has.
Time passes and her father, Sir Lucas, sister Maria, and Elizabeth come to visit. Of course, when they come-Mr. Darcy does too, and Charlotte sees what is going on with him and surprised to see him not propose.
Of course when he does propose-Lady Catherine brings hellstorm upon them. I find this extremely interesting as I’ve never really thought about what happened on that end. I mean you read about Lady Catherine being unhappy, Darcy and Elizabeth in love and so happy, and Jane is going to marry Bingley-I never considered how Lady Catherine would treat the Collinses or blame them. Which is true. I could definitely see her blaming Mr. Collins for his cousin and Charlotte for her friend.
Lady Catherine in this makes me think if Greek gods in mythology-you want them to not like you or give you notice as bad things will happen-but you also don’t want them to dislike you as bad things will happen.
Charlotte and Mr. Collins attend the weddings of Jane & Bingley and Darcy & Elizabeth. Charlotte is also pregnant, and eager for the child, but she finds a new emotion putting a damper on her happiness. She sees the way Elizabeth and Darcy look at each other and for the first time envies her friend, wishing she had someone to love her like that.
Lady Catherine calls Mr. Collins home early and he is thrown from his horse-dead.
At first I was surprised , but then I realized this was called Rational Creatures, so of course it made sense that Mr. Collins had to exit it.
From there Charlotte has to return home, where she gives birth to a son, naming him William. She named him after her father, but of course Mr. Collins shared the same name. Which for a second I was a bit surprised, I forgot he had one. LOL
Mr. Bennet loves little William just as much as his grandpa does, and even Mrs. Bennet does even though she was determined to hate him. But Charlotte doesn’t stay there, instead she goes to visit the Darcys and remains with them. And while there, is there is a possibility of love, real love?
I thought this story was also really cute, especially the ending. Another sweet one.
For more by Joana Starnes, go to “Willoughby’s Crossroads” from Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MODERATE
I really liked both these stories and I and thought they were cute and romantic.
I loved that Charlotte finally got her spot in the limelight.
So far all four stories have been fantastic, which gives me a strong feeling I’m going to like the rest, but I guess I’ll just have to wait and see! 🙂
For more reviews of Rational Creatures, go to Rational Creatures: Elinor & Marianne
For more by Christina Boyd, go to Five Jane Austen Adaptations That Should be Turned Into a Film or TV Show
For more Pride and Prejudice, go to I Wrote Mr. Darcy a Letter
I love how you share with us your play-by-play as you read the stories. So funny! Your memes always crack me up because they are perfect. So glad you liked all the stories so far. Means a lot to us!
Thank you. You guys work hard and I try my best to spread the word.
I do love how both these stories get inside the heroine’s heads and it feels authentic. Great review!
Enjoying your reviews! I particularly loved this analogy: “Lady Catherine in this makes me think of Greek gods in mythology-you want them to not like you or give you notice as bad things will happen-but you also don’t want them to dislike you as bad things will happen.” Yes, there’s no winning with Lady Catherine!
Also, good point about the difficulty of adapting P&P now that so many of us have done it. I loved how Amy made Elizabeth — a heroine among heroines — into someone most of us can relate to. Those conversations between Elizabeth and Jane just felt so real, as did that list of hopes for love.
And then Joana did almost the inverse with Charlotte — taking her from the ordinary woman and character on the sidelines to a heroine in her own right. She showed us that the everyday struggles and small victories of life can be just as heroic and meaningful as the grander adventurers we so often read about in novels.
Looking forward to the next set of reviews!
I have thoroughly enjoyed every one’s work and can’t wait ti finish the book.
This is hysterical! I’m so glad you reviewed these stories and brought such humor to your post. 🙂
Aw, thank you! 🙂