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

Recipe for Persuasion Audiobook Narrated by Soneela Nankani

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I love audiobooks. They are so handy to play when driving to work, cleaning, getting ready in the morning, cooking, etc.

And of course when I see a Jane Austen audiobook, I have to give it a listen.

I was scrolling through MeetLibby when I spotted the audiobook Recipe for Persuasion. I reviewed the actual book a while back and had mixed feelings about it as I liked some aspects of the novel, while I felt other parts of the novel were a bit under developed or rushed. It wasn’t a horrible adaption, far from it, but unlike the first book in the series, to me this one felt like something was missing. However, those feelings didn’t deter me from giving this a listen.

Hmm…?

With audiobooks, one of the most important things to me is to have is a good narrator. Even if it is a book I love and have read over and over again; the narrator will determine whether I will listen to the full audiobook or if I will stop after a few chapters.

In this Soneela Nankani was a great narrator, as she was very clear and gave distinct voices for all the different characters; an impressive feat as she had many accented characters to voice .

Wow!

My only real complaint is that to me, Nankani was actually a little too clear as when she is speaking her American accent she hits every syllable of each word. For some it might not bother them, but once I heard it-I couldn’t unhear it and started counting the syllables of each word.

As mentioned before, Nankani chose to do the character’s accents; for instance Ashna and Trisha have an American accent, Shobi an Indian one, DJ British, etc. The one accent I didn’t agree with was Rico’s as she gave him a British accent instead of a Brazilian one. Now I understand that making a Brazilian-British accent (as he is described having in the book) is more difficult than a British accent, so if this was a choice made because it would be easier on the author, I think she should have at least given him a Brazilian accent when he spoke Portuguese. Even if Rico adopted a British accent after living in England, he definitely would have slipped into a sort of Brasileño accent when talking about home or speaking in Portuguese.

Most of the time when listening to an audiobook something new is brought to your attention or hearing the words instead of seeing them causes you to rethink a scene. I didn’t really have anything new come to my attention other than I had forgotten that Rico’s least favorite food is macaroni and cheese. I mean it’s not the strangest choice, there are people who don’t like it; but after listening to the audiobook all I could think was, out of all the food to dislike, it’s going to be noodles with cheese on top? No fideo con queso? Whoops, Rico is Brazilian, I mean macarronada com queijo? The first time I read this part I passed right over it, but this time listening to it-all I could do was think about was how much I wanted homemade Mac and cheese, or sopa de conchas con queso, with very little broth

If you enjoyed the book, and my two points about the accents and syllables aren’t something to really bother you, be sure to check this audiobook out.

For more on Persuasion, go to Recipe for Persuasion

For more on Sonali Dev, go to Jane Austen Runs My Life Holiday Gift Guide: Jane Austen Books

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

Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers: Ella Enchanted

Happy Mother’s Day!

For those who are celebrating, I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day. To honor my mother, today’s book was a recommendation from my mother. I am always thankful for her patience toward my obstinacy.

Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers is something I started a while back for fans of Jane Austen who are looking for something 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.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

A few years ago I reviewed Ella Enchanted as part of my 30 Day Challenge: Literature Loves (something I ended up running out of time to finish but will one day complete. I think I’m only short two books). And at the time it made me think of Pride and Prejudice, well at least Prince Char made me think of Mr. Darcy.

I always meant to write a post about how it reminded me of elements of Jane Austen, but I ended up forgetting all about it as I was sidetracked by other reviews and life. You know how it goes…

My life motto right there…

But now not only do I have this new series to put it under, Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers but I also have reread it and decided it’s finally time to finish the post I drafted three years ago.

If you are interested in a full synopsis/review of this book and why I love it, then you should check out my post: At Midnight, Your Coach Will Become a Pumpkin Again, and the Animals Will Regain Their Original Shape Until Your Next Ball: Ella Enchanted.

But for those who do no want to go to a separate post, I’ll do a quick synopsis. Ella Enchanted is a retelling of Cinderella and one of my favorite retellings.

In Ella Enchanted, Ella is “blessed”, really cursed, with obedience. She must always do what someone tells her to do, it is physically impossible for her to deny an order. This has made life really hard for her, as she struggled to make the best of her situation. Ella has a sharp mind and tongue, her words sometimes being the only thing that can get her through some days.

Ella’s mother dies at a young age and Ella is raised by her father, who does not really care about her, but himself and status more. She is sent away to finishing school where she is controlled by two girls who discover her secret, Hattie and Olive.

Ella escapes finishing school and charms ogres, reunites with the Prince (who she earlier befriended), and discovers that her father has lost his fortune and plans to remarry. Not only is the horrible woman Mum Olga going to be her stepmother, but her stepsisters are going to be the terrible Hattie and Olga. When these ladies discover Sir Peter’s lack of finances, they poor their angry into ordering Ella about. Will Ella survive life with these horrible ladies? And will she ever discover a way to break the curse?

This book has action, adventure, romance, and more. I highly recommend it.

Or 10th, 50th, 100th….

But why do I recommend this book to Jane Austen fans? First of all Ella reminds me of Elizabeth Bennet and Emma Woodhouse. All three women are beautiful, witty, from a life of privilege, and brave enough to face on people head to head. But while they are all witty and intelligent, they all tend to act rashly and make decisions that make things difficult for them later on. All of these ladies: Ella, Elizabeth, and Emma; tend to make quick judgements, like to be right, and can have issues with humility.

Areida, Ella’s only friend from finishing school, is extremely sweet and caring, just like Jane Bennet. Areida is bullied at finishing school as her family isn’t wealthy and she has an accent as she is from Ayortha. However, when one of the mean girls who likes to humiliate Areida becomes ill, Areida stays up all night to take care of her. That is such a Jane Bennet thing to do.

Sir Stephen is one of Prince Char’s knights, and while he isn’t in the book long; the way he talks about his dogs reminds me of Sir John. Both men are kind, sweet, and absolutely love their hounds.

Sir Peter, Ella’s father, is extremely similar to General Tilney. He is not a kind man, and only cares about wealth and status. Both men will eagerly trade their children’s happiness to achieve what they want. Like General Tilney, Sir Peter can pretend to be kind and charming to woo a rich woman, in order to gain the wealth and status he desires.

General Tilney

The step family of Olga, Hattie, and Olive remind me of the Elliot’s from Persuasion: Sir Walter Elliot, Elizabeth Elliot, and Mary (Elliot) Musgrove. Like Sir Walter, Dame Olga only cares about status, looks, and having the right presence in society. Hattie and Olive both love to use Ella and have her take care of everything, slowly sucking the soul out of her; just like how Elizabeth and Mary treat Anne. Hattie and Elizabeth only care about themselves and are constantly putting down their sisters. Like Mary, Olive constantly wants attention and likes it whine about how she has the short end of the stick, compares her life to her sisters. When Anne is with her sisters she is often treated as a servant, the same stays that Hattie and Olive downgrade Ella to.

And last, but not least as he is the one that inspired this post: Char. Char reminds me of Mr. Darcy. While Char is full of responsibilities, having been taught at a young age how to be and how his actions reflect on the kingdom (just like Mr. Darcy and Pemberley), they also both share the same characteristic of “when their opinion is lost it is lost forever.”

mr-darcytemperopinion

However, this sentiment does not apply to the woman they care for.

And while Char can be open and fun, he tends to be closed off when he is with people he doesn’t know and only really shows his true self to a select full-like Darcy with Bingley, Elizabeth, Colonel Fitzwilliam, etc. Char also loves and cares for his younger sister, just like Darcy.

It’s one of my favorites and I strongly recommend it.

For more Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Catherine Morland’s Reading List: Secrets of the Heart

For more Mother’s Day posts, go to Book Club Picks: Julie

For more on Ella Enchanted, go to At Midnight, Your Coach Will Become a Pumpkin Again, and the Animals Will Regain Their Original Shape Until Your Next Ball: Ella Enchanted

For more fairy tales, go to Once Upon a Time There Were Three Sisters…

Pride and Prejudice Audiobook Narrated by Kate Kellgren

I love audiobooks!

I never was really interested in audiobooks until I downloaded overdrive (now MeetLibby) to become better familiar with it, in order to assist library patrons. However, I started listening to them when getting ready in the morning, traveling, cleaning, etc.; and was hooked.

My book club met last month and my pick was Pride and Prejudice. I lent out my copies to the book club members and was going to read off my kindle app, as I always have it with me, but then I spotted this audiobook on MeetLibby and figured why not give it a listen as well? After all:

I really enjoyed this audiobook version as I felt Kate Kellgren did a wonderful job at distinguishing the different voices. As you may recall from earlier reviews, if I don’t like the way the reader/narrator does the voices then I cannot listen to them.

I especially loved Kellgren’s Caroline Bingley voice as she sounded posh, cold, and mean. Exactly how I imagine her to sound when I read the book.

Listening to an audiobook can sometimes bring to light passages you forget about or help see it in a new light. For instance we always laugh about how Elizabeth’s mind changes seeing Pemberley.

But listening to it I was reminded that while she thinks better of Mr. Darcy, she isn’t completely won over until she meets his housekeeper, sees how he honors his father’s wishes and keeps the miniature of Mr. Wickham up (even though he hates him), and how he treats her “Cheapside” relatives with respect. After this she changes from believing she inaccurately judged his character to admiration for the type of person he is.

And of course after he helps her and her family, she fully moves from admiration to love!

If you are looking for a good audiobook to listen to, I highly recommend.

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

For more audiobooks, go to Elizabeth: Obstinate, Headstrong Girl Audiobook