An Appearance of Goodness

An Appearance of Goodness by Heather Moll

I received this advanced reader copy free in exchange for an honest review.

What if in Pride and Prejudice, Darcy gave Elizabeth his letter at Rosing Park, immediately left to tell Charles Bingley his regret at separating him and Jane, and let Mr. Bennet know what happened to his sister?

What if Mr. Bennet never let Lydia run off with Mrs Forester and the officers? What if she never was compromised and forced to marry Wickham?

Hmm…?

Well that is the alternate universe this adaption takes place. In this Bingley immediately came to ask for Jane’s hand, the two married, and as Mr. Bingley was told through Bingley not only what happened to Georgiana (but also of Wickham’s debts), Mr. Bennet the family were not disgraced and Darcy wasn’t needed to save the day.

Instead Mr. and Mrs. Bingley (plus Elizabeth) have been living at Netherfield Park. A very happy circumstance for all, except that Mrs. Bennet comes too often with her friends. Mr. Bingley decides a break is needed and intends to take Jane to meet all his friends this summer, ending their vacation in Scarborough. He also invites his sister Caroline Bingley, his other sister Mrs. Hurst, her husband Mr. Hurst, and Elizabeth to accompany him.

As they travel they have fun meeting all Bingley’s friends, stopping of course to visit his best friend; Mr. Darcy at Pemberley. Mr. Darcy has been in anguish over his rejected proposal, but in light of what had happened he tried to fix his mistakes, continuously works hard better himself, and is eager to host a party at his beloved home. Staying with him will be Georgina Darcy: her companion/governess Mrs. Annesley; his friend Lewis Balfour; Balfour’s sister and rich widow, Mrs Lanyon; Mr. Utterson, a newer acquaintance training in law; along with Mr. Bingley and his party.

What Mr. Darcy was not expecting was to find Elizabeth along the party. At first the two are rather awkward around each other; but as Darcy’s feelings remain steadfast and loyal to her, he tries his best to show how her words have affected and changed him, while trying not to make her uncomfortable.

Stuck inside due to heavy rainfalls, Elizabeth thought being at Pemberley with Mr. Darcy would be truly terrible. However, the more time she spends there with him; the more she realizes that her view of him was discolored and finds herself not only enjoying time with him but actively seeking it out.

“On closer examination, there was a certain gentleness in his eyes, and often a humour in his look. Had that always been there, or was she now a better observer of him?”

Elizabeth Bennet from An Appearance of Goodness

Elizabeth falls for him and is trying to find a way to show or tell him, when there lovely trip goes to complete ruin. The very heavy rainfalls have caused incredible damage to the fields, crops, bridge, mills, homes, etc. Tensions run high and Darcy is pulled in every directions as he tries to help take care of everything and every one of his tenets. This is not the time to propose as not only is it a very depressing time but he isn’t even sure if he will have anything to offer after all this.

Crying! [Still from The Wolf Man (1941)]

Elizabeth was certain that Mr. Darcy was heading toward a proposal but after all the aftermath of the storms it looks as if that will not be happening anytime in the future. She is heartbroken at all that has happened and wishes she could be there for Mr. Darcy, but as she is just the sister-in-law of his friend she has no place acting as is they are more “familiar”. Elizabeth does all she can while following propriety, but if only she could do more.

Mr. Bingley wants to make things easier on his dear friend Mr. Darcy and will take his party to stay with other friends to help him; leaving Mr. Utterson, Mr. Balfour, and Mrs. Lanyon behind. As Mr. Bingley is going, so will be Elizabeth and any chance of them being more…

Aw!

Luckily, Mrs. Lanyon loves to matchmake, having been instrumental in assisting Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. She asks is Elizabeth could stay and be her companion; and Elizabeth eager to have more time with Mr. Darcy readily agrees.

Mrs. Lanyon right now

Things are still dire and Darcy is hanging on; but knowing he still has chance with Elizabeth has him feeling like things are looking up…except they aren’t.

That’s not good.

While in the middle of clean up the body of Georgiana’s lady’s maid is found in the river. At first Darcy believe her to be Elizabeth as she is wearing her coat, but upon closer examination they discover her the identity and that she has been murdered. How? By a silver candlestick stolen from Pemberley. The reason for the murder is uncertain: could it be she saw something she shouldn’t? Perhaps she was in an illicit relationship? Could she be pregnant and the father not wishing to be in her life? Could she know something the killer does not want to get out?

Wait a minute! This is a mystery?!!! I didn’t realize that. A mystery?!!! I got this!!!

Mystery, you say?

So suspects, after looking into everyone it comes down to the murderer is someone in Darcy’s home. Darcy, Georgiana, Mrs. Annesley, and Mrs. Lanyon are all cleared as r wh have alibis and people to back up their whereabouts. After careful discussion Elizabeth and Darcy discover the only ones who could have murdered the lady’s maid would be either Mr. Balfour or Mr. Utterson.

Time to get on the case!

To be honest, I could not care for either of these characters so I wasn’t upset with them being suspects and was okay with either of them being the villain. I found both to be annoying and odd that Darcy could consider either to be his friends; but as they say love is blind.

Suspect 1: Lewis Balfour

Mr. Darcy has been friends with Mr. Balfour for years and Balfour was there for him when his father passed. Mr. Balfour is biracial (Scottish and Indian) and when his father passes will inherit the family estate. Right now he has no real purpose and lounges about spending money for the fun of it, although he appears to live far outside the allowance given to him by his father (and complains about it).

Balfour is not known to be a maid chasing Lothario and has a pleasant nature. He doesn’t seem to have a reason to murder someone. Could it be him?

Suspect #2: Mr. Utterson

Mr. Utterson is a newer acquaintance to and. Darcy and not as well known to him. Utterson is a second son and is forever in the middle of getting his law degree and lives on an allowance granted by his father. He never seems to have enough money, constantly complaining about the lack of it, along with making very rude jealous remarks.

There are a few stories of Utterson ravishing Lord Poole’s daughter, but rumors aren’t fact and could be true or false. He also has a very mercurial and intense nature. Of course the motive most likely is that he killed for money, possibly stealing; but would Utterson have risked stealing from someone like Mr. Darcy, a man he considered a friend?

Our Regency Scooby-Doo crew is rounded out by the arrival of Colonel Fitzwilliam who journeyed to assist in the emergency services. Will these three be able to discover the murderer before he strikes again, or will this be there final case?

Hmmm…

Thoughts After Reading:

I enjoyed this novel, especially the mystery aspect, as I love mysteries and try to solve them before the characters do. I was fairly certain I knew who the murderer was and why they did it, and was most pleased to discover that I figured it out. My only criticism on that mystery is that I wish the cover looked a little more mysterious as I didn’t realize it was a whodunit until I saw it on goodreads. Although what should be added I’m not quite sure. Maybe the candlestick that was the murder weapon or a question mark at the end of the title?

I felt that Moll did a great job with Austen’s characters as the Bingleys, Bennets, Georgiana, the Hursts, Colonel Fitzwilliam, etc; were all done well did Austen justice while still being Moll’s creation.

The only thing I felt was not quite right was with Darcy’s character. Bit of a spoiler (not too much) I didn’t like that Darcy and Elizabeth slept together before being married. I’m not saying that didn’t happen in 1813, but I personally feel like Mr. Darcy is too much of a gentleman and so proper that he would wait, especially as he strives to be the nothing like his nemesis, Mr. Wickham.

Moll introduced several new characters and I did enjoy most of them. Utterson and Balfour as I said before really annoyed me as they have money, just not as much as they want, and complain constantly about their lot. At first I was hoping they would just exit the story, but when they turned out to be murder suspects I didn’t mind. As I didn’t like either of them I was content to have either of them turn out to be the killer. By the end of the novel, one of the men is a bit more likable as we are given his story and brought understanding as to why he is so eager for money.

I really loved the character of Mrs. Lanyon a LOT. I myself am biracial and growing up there wasn’t a lot of representation in any type of media. With this novel I really enjoyed how Mrs. Lanyon discusses her interactions with people and the racism and ignorance she faces. Even thought he book is set in 1813, the experiences described are still issues people face today.

My only warning would be that while this book does contain comedy, romance, and mystery; parts of the book are very sad especially in regards to the flooding. Thus far I have only read two of Moll’s books and she seems to be one who enjoys combing multiple elements in a nice balance.

I do recommend for those who enjoy Austen adaptations.

For more by Heather Moll, go to An Affectionate Heart

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Beside Two Rivers

For more Pride and Prejudice adaptions, go to The Clergyman’s Wife + The Question is Mr. Collins Really THAT Bad?

For more Jane Austen adaptations, go to The Emma Project

For more mysteries, go to I Won the Ellery Adams’ September 2020 Giveaway + My Review of the First Two Books in the Secret, Book, and Scone Society Series

Beside Two Rivers

Beside Two Rivers (Daughter of the Potomac #2) by Rita Gerlach

Back in 2015 I added this book to my kindle with tons of others and promptly forgot all about it. Fast forward to 2022 and I have decided it is finally time to really go through and try and clean out my kindle collection and get rid of books I will not read again. I decided to start at the beginning (with all the books alphabetized by title) and read them and decide whether to keep or delete.

I started reading this book and just could not connect to it, which surprised me as I tend to enjoy historical fiction. The story is set in 1797 Maryland and follows Darcy Morgan, (daughter of the previous books’ protagonists), who has grown up with relatives as her mother died when she was young and her father went out West, and hasn’t been heard from again.

Darcy feels very much alone as she loves her family but doesn’t quite feel as if she fits in. She loves to walk and read; her cousins love to focus on how they look and trying to find a beau. Her aunt Mari is very silly and consumed with matchmaking while her uncle William, is intelligent but droll and likes to poke fun at others.

Darcy especially hates focusing on her looks, as she feels more comfortable being natural in no stockings and bare feet. Her aunt however will not allow it and when an invitation comes to visit the Twin Oaks plantation, she is beyond delighted and goes into planning mode.

Aunt Mari gets even more excited as not only will the son, Mr. Daniel Rhendon, of Twin Oaks be attending (an eligible bachelor) but he plans to bring with him a party from England. “…it says he brings two ladies and a gentleman.”

Hmm, who does that sound like?

At the party Darcy is embarrassed by her aunt who is trying to dig for information and doing other things that draw too much attention to their family. Darcy decides to go on a walk and ends up running into an English gentleman who is intrigued by Darcy’s opinionated self. Darcy refuses to give her name to the stranger as she wants to be “mysterious” and returns to the party. There she is further embarrassed by her aunt, who continues to make a bit of a fool of herself.

Back at the party Darcy spots the handsome English man from before and he also spots her. He is Ethan Brennan, one of Daniel’s friends, and he also spots her. When Darcy hides from the public with her cousin to remove a small stone from her shoe; she accidentally overhears Ethan talking about her-and becomes extremely offended at what he said.

Ethan

I think you can tell where this is going. Darcy is basically Elizabeth, Ethan is Mr. Darcy, Miss Roth is totally Miss Bingley, Daniel is Mr. Bingley, Aunt Mari is Mrs. Bennet and so on.

So eventually the two, Darcy and Ethan, fall in love but Ethan has to go back to England and it seems that is it for over for our two lovers. Except Darcy receives a letter from English relatives she hasn’t know of and also heads off to England. At that point I gave up in the story as it just couldn’t capture my attention. I know a lot of people said that it was slow until the England part and that is where it picks up, but I wasn’t going to even try. I have a giant list of to-read books that I own and have checked out form the library.

If I want to make a dent in that I don’t have time to be wasting it on a book I don’t like.

End thought: would not recommend. Instead here are a few I would recommend.

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to The Clergyman’s Wife + The Question is Mr. Collins Really THAT Bad?

For more Pride and Prejudice adaptations, go to An Affectionate Heart

For more Jane Austen adaptions, go to Persuasion (2022) or MadsenCreations and I Watched the New Persuasion So You Don’t Have To

For more historical fiction, go to Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: Miss Abbott and the Doctor WEBTOON

I Attended the Bridgerton Experience in San Francisco

I have yet to review the Bridgerton TV show or the book series (it’s on my very long to-do list I swear!), but that can all wait. Let’s talk about the ball!

I first heard about the Bridgerton Experience after my friend attended the Los Angeles one. I was sad to see I had missed it (as I hadn’t heard of it) and even more so after seeing further photos and videos by MissKittyCatalan and autumnsarahstory.

I looked at reviews and other info on it, and of course as it usually goes, when you search up one thing you end up receiving all kinds of ads promoting that thing, in my case the Bridgerton Experience. For once I was really happy to see the ads as I discovered they would be holding more balls and that they had expanded it to San Francisco.

San Francisco is much closer to me than LA and after some more investigating I found that they gave you a great rate for groups of 6 and more. Now that I was armed with dates, times, and prices; it just came down to finding people to join me.

First things first I posted on my Facebook page to try and get as many friends notified (and possibly willing to join); along with reaching out to friends I knew who would want to go (or be willing to do me the favor of attending). I checked back in a week and had no takers from Facebook, and could only get three friends interested, as the others felt it wasn’t right for them as they had no clue what Bridgerton was about.

A group of four is better than one, and after looking at all the prices and times we settled on Sunday August 14th at 2:30. 2:30 was cheaper than the evening and we all felt the price was the most fitting for what we would be getting in the “experience”. (Although by the way, I just checked the calendar and prices for the 5:30 are now cheaper than 2:30. I’m not sure why it changed as before they were the same price as the 2:30 show). You have the option to purchase VIP tickets, but from the reviews VIP only seemed to get a place to sit, a free glass of champagne, and to go into the experience a few minutes before the rest of the crowd. As you weren’t really getting that much of an advantage over the regular priced guests, we all felt that it wasn’t worth the higher cost of the ticket, (unless we had been able to get that great group rate). Instead we all bought the regular tickets.

According to the research I did the ball included: multiple photo areas, a” paint your portrait” photo area, merchandise available for purchase, costumes from the show being on display, a scavenger hunt, guests being presented to the Queen, a ballet performance with aerials, being taught to dance, and a ball. Plus one lucky person will be chosen as the “diamond” (that is the Belle of the season). I was so excited and hoped that it would be me!

Please pick me.

After tickets were purchased the next thing we was needed to figure out of course was what to wear? Luckily I had that all taken care of. As you might recall, last year I held a Jane Austen birthday party and MadsenCreations designed and made my regency gown. The gown is blue and was inspired by the one Daphne wears in Bridgerton and the dress Lydia wears in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Since this was a ball and men would be present, (unlike my party) I needed gloves! I tried to find some opera full length gloves as I wanted them to go all the way up to my bicep, but I was unable to find any online that would arrive in time (and of course the Halloween store in my town was opening the day of the ball). I ended up wearing elbow length gloves, which turned out to not be the best idea. As I wanted to take a lot of pictures and my phone is a touch screen, I had to keep taking one of my gloves on and off. MadsenCreations wore small gloves which was a much better idea.

As you can see one glove to take photos.

After that the only thing left to plan was my hair. Which you all know can be the most difficult.

I cut my hair in May so I was unable to do the hairstyle I did last year for my party. I wanted to try and do the look Jennifer Ehle has in Pride and Prejudice (1995) but it didn’t come out right. Instead I did a very high bun on the back of my head vis-a-vie Miss Jane Erstwhile in Austenland, but only had a couple tendrils down on the sides of my face, copying the look of Miss Kate Sharma on the book cover of The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgerton #2).

Everything was falling into place. We drove down the night before and stayed with my Tia, spending all Sunday getting ready! As we didn’t want to have to worry about finding parking we hired a lovely carriage to bring us to the ball, a Honda Accord.

The confirmation email told you to arrive 30 minutes before the event and we arrived a few minutes after 2. We were able to take our “yours truly” photo right away (no line) and see all the dresses in the waiting area. My friend and her roommate joined us a little later and we took another pic in the “Yours Truly” area. They also had gloves, tiaras, jewelry, and more available for purchase. My friend forgot her gloves and was able to purchase them at the little shop.

After that we waited around a bit looking at everyone’s outfits before they allowed us in. I noticed two things right away; 1) there were no single men, each guy was with a girl or group of girls. And 2) no man that I could see was dressed in a Regency costume. This was a complete bummer as I really, really wanted to get a pic with a Regency man. All I could do was hope I would be able to snag an actor or perhaps someone would come late?

When the experience begins you have the choice to shop, walk around, order drinks, and take photos. They have a wisteria arch, “paint your portrait”, the queen’s throne, and lots of other decorated areas. It was absolutely beautiful in there.

Xandraleigh had warned me to wait on the wisteria walkway as it gets incredibly crowded with people. Instead we went right to the portrait line as there was hardly anybody there. The portrait was fun and the picture came out well, although I do wish we had been given more instructions as we weren’t quite sure what exactly to do at first, but eventually figured it out.

After taking our portraits we were at a loss of what to do next. We didn’t want to take a picture on the Queen’s chair as the line was super long and instead walked around a bit looking at the Bridgerton shop and trying to see what else the experience had to offer.

There wasn’t much else but photo areas and a few more clothes from the show. I liked looking at the costumes, but there weren’t as many costumes as I thought there would be.

While we were taking photos we heard an announcement and quickly ran back to the Queen’s chair area to see what was happening. The Queen had arrived, and we tried to see her although it was really hard with all the people. She sat at her throne and Lady Whistledown, became our narrator for the events. She told us that we were to be presented to the queen and to try our best to impress her so that we will be in the running for the “diamond”. We were also told that as Whistledown couldn’t be there herself she sent another in her place, and challenged us to try and discover which of the guests she was. This woman, who’s name I forget, gave commentary on every curtesy, being quite sassy. I was excited for this, but the directions weren’t quite clear. They told everyone to move to the front by the Queen but I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to line up, go to the right or left, etc. We all kind of moved in a group together like a giant herd of cattle and the actors picked people to be presented.

I had five people in front of me and then all of a sudden they were saying I was next in line and urging me forward. When I stepped up the Queen wasn’t paying attention but talking to an attendant. I wasn’t sure what to do and stopped there, like a deer in headlights, and then curtseyed. Suffice to say, my curtesy did not get rave reviews and I did not impress the Queen.

The rest of my party did very well and one of us was even given a note saying that they had impressed the Queen and were in the running to be the “diamond”.

After that we decided to try to take a picture in the archway as we didn’t have anything else to do and weren’t sure how long the presenting would take. Here is where I wish had a program to guide us, or had opened up the ballroom so we could dance while waiting for the next “performance”.

As I said we headed to the archway as the line had gone down, although it still took a while for us to get our photo, even though we were only behind three couples. The problem was everyone wanted to take a ton of photos and videos. I’m all for people doing their thing but I do wish they would be a little more considerate of the time and others. There is only 90 minutes and a lot of people in line; you don’t need to take 5 photos together, 5 individual shots (each), and 5 videos.

When it was finally our turn, we heard another announcement, quickly snapped a couple group shots, and went hurrying back to see that they had opened the ballroom.

Here is where you need to be assertive and try to get as close to the floor as possible as they choose guests to open up the dance floor and dance with the actors. I was too nice and unable to get up there, so I was not chosen.

Aw!

But seriously, it was still fun to watch. I do wish they had a bigger ballroom or less people as it was a little hard to see everything. I was in the back on a little stage area, so I was able to kind of look over people. But as I’m short It was hard at times to get a good look into everything. They then began the first part of the ballet that I thought told the story of Daphne and Simon, but others have said they think it is supposed to represent Kate and Anthony. Either way it was beautiful.

After the first dance, they brought out a woman dressed in burlesque type outfit and she was really out of place. She taught us a pseudo-regency dance and it was fun; although hard to follow along as you couldn’t hear what she was saying and there were a lot of people crowded around the dance floor. She does a lot of hand movements and when doing it with all the people attempting to follow, you might hit someone or have someone hit you.

Then our dancers returned and performed beautifully! I loved the dancing with the silks. My favorite part was when they danced with the chandelier. It was so stunning and worth it.

After the second dance the two split to either side of the room and taught us a regency-esque dance. This was a lot of fun and as I came to this ball to dance I was not going fo let an opportunity slip through my fingers. I’m not ashamed fo say I pushed my way forward so that I could be in the dance, I was going after my dream! I was hoping for my own Pride and Prejudice or Northanger Abbey moment, however, as mentioned before there were no men who came alone so I ended up dancing with a very nice woman who was an excellent dancer.

“This was another of our fears: that Life wouldn’t turn out to be like Literature.“

Julian Barnes

After we were taught the dance and danced away a bit, they moved us off the dance floor and the dancers finished their performance with the violinist even getting into it. It was fantastic! The violinist was amazing!

Afterwards, the Queen came out and the two characters were married. The stand in for Lady Whistledown was also revealed (in a modern dress, I never would have guessed that was her) and they chose the “diamond”. In everything I’d seen online the diamond always had a stunning Regnecy outfit. This woman they picked wore a black Victorian dress which, not to be rude, made me think of a widow (as women in that time period only wore all black if they were a widow.) I hadn’t seen her before but she must have impressed the queen to be picked. I would have liked to see her curtesy and learn a few tips.

The stand in for Lady Whistledown, the diamond in the portrait, and the Queen.

The queen then left and they played 2010s party music and allowed you to dance the last 15 minutes of the program. We enjoyed it, but were all a little disappointed that there wasn’t more dancing.

Emma (1996) AKA the Gwyneth Paltrow Version

As we were exiting the ballroom I did manage to find one man (not an actor) dressed in Regency clothes and convinced him to take a picture with me! Since I didn’t ask his permission to post the photo and he’s not wearing a mask, I won’t share it here, but I am very grateful that he decided to dress up.

The only thing that was promised that I didn’t see was the scavenger hunt. I saw on multiple reviews that they had clues you were to solve to get to the next one, but I couldn’t find any clues or information on it.

Mystery, you say?

Afterwards, we decided to get food as we all had forgotten to eat when we were all getting ready for the ball. We also needed time to share and discuss the ball. We tried to find a resturant nearby, but a lot were closed on Sunday. We eventually settled on Chez Maman (Hayes Valley) on 401 Gough St. We walked down there as trying to find a parking spot in San Francisco is near impossible. As we were walking people commented on our outfits and complimented us.

We are hot!

Chez Maman was packed but they were able to sit us outside and even though things took some time, understandable as almost every table was full, it was the best service I have had even pre-Covid and everything was absolutely delicious. I would definitely recommend stopping there after the ball.

So was it worth it? Well this was what I was hoping to get out of the experience:

  • Have fun with my friends
  • Dance with a handsome stranger
  • Get my picture taken with a man dressed in Regency clothes
  • Dance at the ball
  • See the lovely clothes from the show
  • Take a nice picture
  • Enjoy the ballet!

So would I recommend this experience? I definitely would. We had a lot of fun and everything was absolutely beautiful.

If you do attend my advice is:

  • To be aware of time (you only have 90 minutes).
  • Group photos are definitely the way to go if you want to be able to do everything.
  • Don’t be afraid to assert yourself in order to be a part of the action. If you want the best experience, you are going to need to be front and center.
  • If you are planning on taking lots of photos wear short gloves or no gloves at all
  • Don’t wear anything too long as with all the people you will get stepped on.
  • Don’t wear too many layers. The ballroom gets packed and there is no air conditioning going, so it gets hot in there.

For more Regency events, go to Tossing a Costume Together + Regency Runway

The Clergyman’s Wife + The Question is Mr. Collins Really THAT Bad?

The Clergyman’s Wife by Molly Greeley

I saw this audiobook and ebook on MeetLibby and decided to give it a read as I heard a lot of positive things about it.

However, I did not finish it as I could not get very far through it. I was about 18% of the way through the audiobook and did not get much farther in the ebook, before I finally called it quits. I tried, but this work just couldn’t capture my attention.

It wasn’t badly written, but the story just couldn’t capture my attention. The story takes place after the end of Pride and Prejudice, with Charlotte Lucas-Collins dissatisfied with her life with Mr. Collins. She has nothing to do, no one to talk to, and finds herself drifting. She then strikes up a conversation with Mr. Travis, farmer and recently turned gardener (thanks to Lady Catherine), later this turning into a friendship. After the time they spend together, Charlotte finds herself falling for Mr. Travis. This is not at all what Charlotte planned for her life? What should she do?

Hmm…?

As I mentioned before, I tried but could not connect to this woke. One of my biggest issues reading this was Charlotte saying she had nothing to do. She’s a regency woman who’s a minister’s wife. I’m sure she would have plenty to do, in her own home and in the parish. I mean she’s not working hard like a servant, but she still had duties and responsibilities; it wasn’t as if she was so wealthy as to have people do everything for her.

Secondly, Greeley make Mr. Collins incredibly insufferable. But I found issue with this as I wonder, is he really? I have been thinking about this for a while, ever since my book club read Pride and Prejudice back in March. Is Mr. Collins really as bad as Elizabeth thinks?

Reading Pride and Prejudice we never see a true uncritical view of Mr. Collins as most of our opinions of him come from Elizabeth Bennet and her family, all of which are not the most reliable as they are all very judgmental people (except Jane); additionally they already do not care for him as he represents a loss of their home and life.

Secondly, none of the circumstances in which we as a reader interact with Mr. Collins puts him in a positive light, as the situations are not ones where he is most comfortable in. First, we know that Mr. Collin’s father and Mr. Bennet had a falling out years ago, so much that there has been zero contact and Mr. Bennet was surprised at Mr. Collins reaching out to him ( which Mr. Collins only did after his father died). Mr. Collins comes to the Bennet home and we have no idea what Mr. Collins has been told about his Bennet relations from his father nor what his father might have warned him about how they would react to him. We also don’t know if he has any other family or has ever grown up learning how to talk to family members besides what he may have observed from friends/classmates. Part of the reason why he is so awkward could be because of all this tension he grew up believing was between the family, him trying not to upset his relations, not knowing how to interact with people related to him, and him possibly going on about things they aren’t interested in as he’s afraid certain subjects might come up that will turn this visit into a terrible one.

Then we have him staying at a home where he is to inherit everything when Mr. Bennet dies. That would not only put you in an awkward position but also mean that every person in the house is bound to be bitter and a tad hostile toward you.

Thirdly, we see him embarrass Elizabeth at the ball going up to Mr. Darcy without being introduced, but to be fair we don’t know what his discussions with Lady Catherine have been like. Maybe from what they have discussed he earnestly does believe that Mr. Darcy would know who he is. He also might have been really nervous when going to a ball where he knows no one and the people he does know don’t really like him that he clings to the only person familiar.

In fact, I do find it interesting that Elizabeth is horrified with Mr. Collins’ behavior, yet Mr. Darcy doesn’t even mention it in his letter.

“The situation of your mother’s family, though objectionable, was nothing in comparison of that total want of propriety so frequently, so almost uniformly betrayed by herself, by your three younger sisters, and occasionally even by your father.”

Mr. Darcy’s Letter from Pride and Prejudice

And the last time we see Mr. Collins he is showing off to Elizabeth, the girl who rejected him, all that could have been hers. Even though this behavior is rude; let’s be honest, I don’t know a single person in this world who would not try to show off to someone who rejected them.

I also think that while his letter to the Bennets regarding Lydia running away with Wickham was quite the letter, but to be fair I do think him being untactful stems from him not knowing what to say in this situation and Mr. Collins presuming his time with the Bennets meant they were much closer than the Bennets thought they were. His letter doesn’t read to me as a cruel unfeeling man, but one that is not graced at emotional norms. We see where he tries to make the Bennets feel better, that maybe their parenting isn’t completely at fault for Lydia’s ruinous behavior, but perhaps it was a predestined occurrence that would have happened even if they were perfect parents. This isn’t what anyone would want to hear, but that is the exact type of thing people always say with tragedies when they aren’t sure what can be done to help. I would see this a lot when I used to work with grieving kids-people who have never experienced grief and want to do something to help will always say terrible things, not meaning to and not knowing it is the last thing the person wants to hear. I think that Mr. Collins knows he should say something to comfort his family- but that type of thing always happens to OTHER people, not people YOU know- and he asked Lady Catherine for advice (and she was zero help), and wrote a letter that was not soothing at all.

The other thing that bothers me about these adaptations with the Collinses, is we never see Mr. Collins at home relaxed. For instance, we see the real Mr. Darcy, once he is at Pemberley and all pretense has faded away. I would like an adaptation that shows Mr. Collins in a normal home situation, where he would be more comfortable and not trying to please everyone or show off his accomplishments.

So while Mr. Collins may have his annoying moments, is silly, socially unaware, untactful, a people pleaser, and presumes relationships are closer than they really are; he does have a good heart and he strikes me as someone who would be a good husband and treat his wife well. I would like to see an adaptation where he isn’t being compared to Mr. Bingley or Mr. Darcy; but where we have someone write his story.

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Pride and Prejudice Audiobook Narrated by Kate Kellgren

For more Pride and Prejudice adaptations, go to An Affectionate Heart

For more on Mr. Collins, go to Charlotte’s Story

For more Jane Austen adaptions, go to Jane Austen Children’s Stories: Emma

Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: Miss Abbott and the Doctor WEBTOON

Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers is something I started a while back for fans of Jane Austen who after reading all her book are looking for something else to read.

There are Jane Austen’s works and numerous variations, but while those adapts are fun, sometimes you don’t always want to read the same story. You want Austen-like works, but something different. But what can you read instead?

That’s why I started this series. I will be reviewing books that have the things we love about the Austen novels, but are not another retelling.

Miss Abbott and the Doctor by Maripaz Villar

I started reading this comic in October of 2020 and always planned on writing a post on it but just never got around to it (that tends to happen a lot, unfortunately). Well no time better than the present, right?

From the beginning.

The WEBTOON Miss Abbot and the Doctor is a lined only (not filled in) WEBTOON that is set in a pseudo-Victorian Era. The comic actually begins in the middle as the author/cartoonist originally only planned a few episodes on Deviant Art before fleshing it out and moving over to WEBTOON. But don’t worry, any questions regarding the back stories or what lead them to that point in the story, are all filled in as the main characters get closer and talk more about their past and what lead them here.

The story follows the adventures of Miss Cati Abbott and Dr. Andreas Marino. Cati’s parents went off to the Amazon in search of a society that spurned the influence of technology. They, and most of their group, ended up passing away with Cati being taken in and raised by a tribe there.

One day, widow and anthropologist, Kira Aquila-Salazar, was on an expedition to find and learn more about the Shuar people, but ended up falling ill. Cati found her, helped her, and the two become very good friends. Kira becomes Cati’s mentor and brings her home with her to learn more about their society.

Dr. Andreas Marino was raised in the city and after he finished his studies and was beginning to practice medicine, his grandfather decided to retire and asked him to take over his practice. Dr. Marino moves to the small town and clashes with several characters, mostly Miss Abbott, as he has strict ideas about behavior, character, and how a gentleman and lady should be.

At first he only had one friend, Sebastian Nero, who is his opposite as he has a very open nature and immediately makes friends with anyone he meets.

At first Dr. Marino and Miss Abbott do not get along as they have such contrasting personalities, but over time both balance each other as Cati opens up Dr. Marino to more adventure and less constraint and Dr. Marino helps Cati reign in her imagination and be a bit more levelheaded.

So why do I recommend this for Jane Austen fans? First of all, Cati reminds me a lot of a mix of Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables, Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility, and Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey. Cati is smart, witty, and send off a great barb, strong, athletic and knows how to take care of herself and others. She is also a bit naive, can be judgmental, and has an overactive imagination that does tend to cause her to either get carried away or try and do something without thinking it through.

She learns from both her mentor Kira, friend Rebecca, and eventual love interest Dr. Marino; to not get rid of the things that make her special but to temper her imagination and to think things through more.

Dr. Marino reminds me of Mr. Darcy with a mix of Gilbert Blythe. When he first comes to the town he has some preconceived notions about the townspeople, having grown up in the city, and isn’t as warm or open to people as he could be.

Over time those walls are broken down, primarily with his relationship with Miss Abbott as she points out his faults, he tries to correct them, and he learns to let go and go along with some of her fun and eccentric ideas.

I believe that the author loves Jane Austen too, particularly after reading this little scene.

When I first read this series, almost all were free episodes until after the wedding (above image). However, now only the first 18 episodes are free with the rest being a daily pass; one free a day unless you would like to pay three coins an episode. It can be a little hard trying to wait every day to read the next episode, but if you are willing to wait it out I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Or another episode to be available through daily pass

You can read the series by going to the WEBTOON app or going to the WEBTOON website.

For more Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Ella Enchanted

For more comics, go to Emma Manga