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

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

An Affectionate Heart

An Affectionate Heart by Heather Moll

I was given this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Are any of you Community fans? Community is about a former lawyer, Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), who faked his degree, and has to go back to community college in order to get a real one. He creates a fake Spanish Study Group to try and get with a girl, but ends up having all these others join them and eventually they all become friends and have a lot of crazy adventures together.

In one episode, two of the friends are having a housewarming party and when the pizza arrives Jeff, not wanting to fetch the pizza, has them throw a dice in the air to see who must go downstairs and retrieve it. This introduces multiple timelines with one of them being the darkest timeline.

So what does that have to do with this book? It starts off in the darkest timeline of Pride and Prejudice.

Our story begins sadly. Jane never met or married Mr. Bingley. Instead she married the gentleman who wrote her a few lines of poetry when she was 15.

“When she [Jane Bennet] was only fifteen, there was a gentleman at my brother Gardiner’s in town so much in love with her, that my sister-in-law was sure he would make her an offer before we came away. But, however, he did not. Perhaps he thought her too young. However, he wrote some verses on her, and very pretty they were.”

Pride and Prejudice

While this man, Mr. Cuthbert, isn’t horrible, he also doesn’t value his wife as much as Bingley did. The two live in London with four sons and an awful mother-in-law.

Mr. Bennet died of a heart attack two years prior, which caused Mr. Collins to never take orders (become a minister) and he inherited all of Longbourn. At the time he visited Elizabeth was supporting Jane during one of her pregnancies so Mr. Collins married Mary, leaving Charlotte unmarried and no prospect in sight.

Now that Mary is mistress of Longbourn she has become very self important, tyrannical, and uses her position to control her remaining family members: Mrs. Bennet, Elizabeth, and Lydia (Kitty is married and lives in Portsmouth).

When Mary turns evil

Elizabeth is not as strong or as fierce as she used to be as grief and circumstances have caused her to fold in on herself. She also is having problems with her heart, and is secretly afraid that she has inherited her father’s heart condition. She also feels unsettled as she is forced to move from Longbourn to London, not really having her own home; along with having to kowtow to the Collinses.

Mr. Bingley has not rented Netherfield but its gatehouse is where Mr. Darcy and Georgiana reside. It turns out that when Georgiana was seduced by Mr. Wickham, she became pregnant. Mr. Darcy decided to lie to family and friends saying they are vacationing in the warmer climate of Spain, while planning to hide out in Meryton until after the baby was born. Unfortunately, Georgiana suffered from a miscarriage and is currently extremely ill with tuberculosis.

To make this even harder on the Darcy’s, with Georgiana hardly going out due to her poor health and Mr. Darcy keeping his true net worth hidden and also not partaking in society; horrible rumors about the two abound in the community.

But while the beginning is a tad grim, let me assure you it does contain a happy ending. I have to admit when I first started this novel I was unsure where it would go as this opening was most unexpected. However, at the same time I was also extremely intrigued as to see what all these threads would produce.

Elizabeth has just returned from visiting Jane when she hears about the latest news of Mr. Darcy moving to town and is warned by Mr. Collins and Mary to steer clear of them. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have a horrible interaction at the apothecary, when Mr. Darcy, eager for medicine to aid his sister, rudely interrupts Elizabeth’s conversation. While Elizabeth doesn’t believe all the stories circling Darcy, she has decided he is an extremely rude man she would like nothing to do with.

Later at a party thrown by Sir William Lucas, Elizabeth spots Mr. Darcy and it appears that he is listening to her stories of London, strangely seeming interested in topics that wouldn’t typically suit a man. She manages to question him later about his interest in her tales of London and he reveals he is picking up tidbits to share with his sister, who’s health keeps her from anything.

Mr. Darcy also witnesses Elizabeth in heart pain, but after her pleas he agrees to not to reveal her illness to anyone.

That evening Mr. Darcy sees his sickly sister pleased at the crumbs of conversation he managed to solicit and decides to join up with Colonel Fitzwilliam (the only one who knows of their ruse), to try and hunt Mr. Wickham down. Meanwhile, Elizabeth has been thinking about Georgiana and how lonely she must be, just like Elizabeth. While Darcy comes to his decision to go after Wickham, Elizabeth is determined to befriend Georgiana.

The two immediately develop a friendship, with Georgiana revealing the true story of why they are in Longbourn. When Mr. Darcy returns (having not located Mr. Wickham), he at first clashes with Elizabeth; him not wanting charity, suspicious she might be hunting for information to ruin his sister’s reputation, and worried that these visits are doing more harm than good. Elizabeth returns somewhat to her old self as she sees him as controlling, rude, and is not afraid to speak her mind on it. Eventually, for the sake of Georgiana, the two make a truce and often enjoy debating or discussing issues.

While Elizabeth enjoys her time with the Darcys, she continues to be unhappy in her life and her heart pains appear to be increasing. She finally comes to the decision to consult the apothecary Mr. Jones, but he is unfortunately called away to care for his sick son before he can give her a prognosis. He promises to write and when a letter does come to the apothecary shop Elizabeth, embarrassed to speak to the assistant, purloins the letter and discovers that she only has a few months to live.

At first distraught over the fact that her life is ending, she then decides she will do whatever she can to ensure her remaining days are how she wants to spend them. She approaches Mr. Darcy and asks for his hand in marriage, not out of love but so that she can care for Georgiana, have her own life, and be buried with dignity rather than pity.

Mr. Darcy is shocked at how brazen Elizabeth is but after she reveals her reasons, and he spends time with her family-he can’t help but feel sorry for her and agrees. For him; his sister will be happy for her remaining time, Elizabeth will have a much happier place to live, he only has to care for her a few months (and she is beautiful and enjoyable to be around), and can use his widower status to keep his Aunt Catherine or any other ladies at bay (“I cannot remarry as my heart is “broken”). The two enter one of my favorite tropes, a marriage of convenience, and of course they eventually fall for each other.

But this path is full of obstacles. As the two grow closer and fall for each other, will Elizabeth continue to feel the same way when she discovers Mr. Darcy is not a poor gentleman but has kept his lineage and estate hidden from her? Will the two be able to swallow their pride and compromise to create a true marriage? And will their love even matter when Elizabeth’s days are numbered?!

My thoughts on this book? I LOVED it.

I knew how it would end and figured out the reveal of a plot twist immediately when it was introduced, but honestly that doesn’t matter. From page one I was sucked in and stayed up all night finishing it.

I can’t put the book down

This book made me laugh, I cried, I went through every emotion and enjoyed every page.

I also think Moll touched really well on complicated grief and the guilt and blame that can come when a sadness of a death is mixed up in a hatred toward life’s circumstances. I used to work with grieving families and children and the scene when Mr. Darcy is trying to cope and work through his inner torment at the death of his sister and nephew is extremely well written.

I really enjoy the slow burn of a romance, and I savored watching the romance progress from civility to passion.

I also liked the way Moll wrote the supporting characters, especially the relationship between Lydia, Mr. Darcy, and Elizabeth. In this Lydia is still constantly thinking of getting married, clothes, and still a bit of a narcissist; but as being the only other unmarried sister and stuck under the care of Mr. Collins she and her sister have bonded closer together. We also see that while Lydia is concerned for her welfare first and foremost she loves her sister and wants to help her in the way she best can.

I highly recommend this for fans of Austen variations as I throughly enjoyed it and will definitely be reading it again.

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Charlotte’s Story

For more Pride and Prejudice adaptations, go to Lean on Me: Austentatious (2015)

For more Jane Austen adaptions, go to Is You’ve Got Mail Really an Adaption of Pride and Prejudice?

Charlotte’s Story

Charlotte’s Story: A Novel from the World of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

by Carolyn Korsmeyer

I was on Instagram when I came across a post by Heather Moll, in which she was looking for Jane Austen fans to read an ARC of her newest book. I of course am always looking for new things to read (even though my to-read list is crazy long) and reached out to her.

We discussed when she would like the review posted, but after we messaged each other something kept niggling in the back of my mind, I had forgotten something? But what?

After I received Moll’s ARC it suddenly hit me! Back in December, Wiley Saichek had reached out to me to review Carolyn Korsmeyer new book Charlotte’s Story. With him emailing me at the beginning of the holiday season it had completely slipped my mind.

From Clueless

Feeling all kinds of horrible for promising to review the novel and having not done it, I decided before I could check out Moll’s work I needed to read and review this immediately.

When I first read the premise of the the novel, I was intrigued as I have always liked the character Charlotte Lucas and I do not feel she gets enough appreciation. She is often seen as the “what not to do” character, but for a woman with limited options she was cunning and wily. She may not have married for love, but she also didn’t have a disastrous marriage like in The Buccaneers. While she married a man that isn’t passionate, she was for it ate to marry one who wouldn’t hurt her, abuse her, or cheat on her. And while he is silly and bumbling, Charlotte could have had it much worse.

For those of you who have never read or watched Pride and Prejudice, or may not know the character of Charlotte Lucas I will give a brief summary. The story of Pride and Prejudice revolves around the Bennet family, a large family consisting of five daughters living on an estate that is entailed (can only be inherited by a male relative). Mr. and Mrs. Bennet always believed they would have a boy and didn’t plan for an outcome of only girls nor have they been very prudent with their money. Mrs. Bennet is eager to marry all her children off ASAP, as when Mr. Bennet dies they will have a very different lifestyle and it will be harder to find them suitors. Two men come into the neighborhood, along with English officers and a distant cousin who will inherit when Mr. Bennet passes. Mrs. Bennet tried to ensnare marriage proposals but things do not go as planned. There is comedy, drama, and more!

Charlotte Lucas is the best friend of Elizabeth Bennet (second eldest Bennet daughter), and when Elizabeth rejects their distant cousin, Mr. Collins’, marriage proposal Charlotte swoops in. She invites Mr. Collins to move into Lucas Lodge and ends up engaged to him! After their marriage Charlotte moves to Hunsford, to Mr. Collins’ parish. When Elizabeth, Maria Lucas (Charlotte’s sister) and Sir William (Charlotte’s father) visit the Collinses, they are invited to dine with Lady Cathrine de Bourgh who not only is Mr. Collins’ patroness but also Mr. Darcy’s aunt; Mr. Darcy being one of the gentlemen who Mrs. Bennet was originally trying to snare and one that Elizabeth can’t stand.

After this vacation, Elizabeth returns home and we do not hear of Charlotte until the end of Pride and Prejudice. So there is a lot of wiggle room to create a “new” story.

This novel starts off with Elizabeth’s rejection and Charlotte deciding to net Mr. Collins. The two are quickly wed and then go to his home. Charlotte begins busying herself with taking everything into hand (as a bachelor does not always keep the best house). She tries to start a friendship with Lady Catherine’s daughter, Anne, but finds it difficult as Anne has a low constitution and a bulldog of a companion.

Charlotte finds it lonely in her new life, missing her friends and family and is also sad not to be pregnant as soon as she wishes. She also finds herself regretting aspects of her marriage, such as the fact that she was not wooed, won, or worked for. It reminds me of Milly in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and how her husband did not understand the value of his wife as she was won “without effort”. Charlotte also realizes that in her quest for marriage, home, stability, etc.-she never really thought about what type of man she should be looking for.

Hmm…?

When Elizabeth and Maria arrive, Charlotte becomes the viewer watching the scenes unfold, being told later by Elizabeth what has happened-from Darcy rejected proposal to Darcy’s secret.

In this adaptation Darcy and Anne are close cousins, although he has no desire to marry her. It was nice to see it as in Austen’s original piece all is told from Elizabeth’s point of reference (colored by her dislike of Mr. Darcy and Lady Catherine). From Charlotte’s point of view Anne is very nice, although naive, and the two eventually become friends.

The relationship between the Collinses become fractured when Charlotte falls extremely ill and while appreciative of the care Mr. Collins gave Charlotte is furious that Mr. Collins never contacted her family about it. Mr. Collins apologizes and shares about his childhood and that his parents never planned for children, his mother died in childbirth, and he has no familial bonds with anyone. It never occurred to him to notify her family. Charlotte forgives him, but everything splinters over the Lydia/Wickham and Elizabeth/Darcy situation. Mr. Collins wants to distance himself from his family (and rebuke them for their actions); while Charlotte wants to support her friends. After the dust has settled, and a quick visit to Hertfordshire, with no children on the horizon Mr. Collins sends Charlotte to Bath to partake in the waters. She journies with Mrs. Bennet, Mrs. Norris (Mrs. Bennet’s sister), Maria, Kitty, and Mary. Anne and her nurse/companion Mrs. Jenkins also plan to meet them there.

In Bath, Charlotte partakes of the water and again becomes a spectator into the lives of her party. Kitty, Maria, and Mary enjoy concerts, balls, parties, and young suitors. Anne is thrilled with being free from her mother and finds her own suitor, also being followed closely by Colonel Fitzwilliam. *Wink, wink*.

Colonel Fitzwilliam

Eventually their time in Bath ends and they all must return home, Mary joining the Collinses-and with one more twist in life’s plans will Charlotte eventually finds happiness or just sorrow?

So what did I think of the book? I thought Korsmeyer did a great job at trying to mimic Jane Austen’s style and stay true to the novel while putting her own spin on it. The only part of the book I really disliked was that several times Charlotte was moved to observer instead of an active member of the story. For a book that is supposed to be about her, at times I felt she felt became part of the scenery instead of staying the main player.

Korsmeyer does take liberties with creating her own story and some changes to the characters will not appeal to everyone. While I don’t agree with her depiction of some of the characters I did not feel that she did anything that was too contrary to the character’s “possibilities”. One example is the character change of Mary Bennet, who people seem to disagree with the most. In this version, Mary is taken to Bath and after she receives positive attention from her mother (and young men) with a new style of dress and a different way of acting; she embraces a new personality. For someone who is often only tolerated, left out, and the source of jokes in her family, I could see that with this change to actually being wanted, Mary would try to do whatever she could to keep it. Such as, completely changing her personality and making decisions she previously would not do. After all, I have known people in my life who have behaved like that. It might not be the route I would have taken, but I do not feel it is out of the realm of possibilities for the Austen character.

Parody of the none for Gretchen Weiners meme

Reading this book there were two points Korsmeyer made that I found extremely fascinating. The first is that Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy are the same amount of socially awkward, but in different areas on the spectrum. While Mr. Collins covers his insecurities with a constant stream of words, Mr. Darcy covers his with silence and scowls.

“At one point, I had the oddest impression that in their own ways each man [Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy] was evincing his discomfort with company. How very strange to speculate that my garrulous husband and this stern statue might both be simply ill at ease in society.

Charlotte’s Story: A Novel from the World of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice by Carolyn Korsmeyer

It is a fair comparison to make as we see Mr. Darcy react different when in company he knows/likes-however in the original novel we never see how Mr. Collins reacts when he is at home just with Charlotte.

The other point I found really thought provoking was when Mr. Collins discusses his childhood. In this adaptation, Mr. Collins’ mother died in childbirth, his father hated/blamed him + ignored him, and Me. Collins spent his whole life trying to get people to like him. Then one day he meets Lady Catherine who actually listens to what he says and enjoys his company. If this backstory were the case then in a way Lady Catherine has filled that vacant “parental” slot in Mr. Collins’ life. He now has someone who will “rear” him, give him advice, financially care for him (she’s his patron), etc. And not only does he have a “parent” in his life, but has gained “family” with Lady Catherine’s family. Just to be clear I’m not saying that Mr. Collins actually believes the de Bourgh family and relations to be his family, I’m saying that subconsciously he’s adopted them and believes they feel the same about him. Also if he never really had family growing up it would explain why he has no idea how to act with the Bennets, talking to them like he read a book on how to converse with one’s relations. But again, this is all supposition.

I found Korsmeyer to be a talented writer who is able to write a story that can hold your interest. This book will not be for everyone but I do believe that if you enjoy Pride and Prejudice adaptations it is well worth a read to see a different view into the Collinses and a deepening of characters that are often at the back of the action. Besides having more Charlotte, I really enjoyed the fleshing out of Anne de Bourgh, Maria Lucas, Kitty Bennet, Mary Bennet, and Colonel Fitzwilliam. Whether or not you agree with everything in the story, I still think most will enjoy the stroll down a “what if” path in the Jane Austen universe.

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to Lean on Me: Austentatious (2015)

For more Pride and Prejudice adaptations, go to Can The Shop Around the Corner Be Considered A Pride and Prejudice Adaption?

For more on Charlotte Lucas, go to Rational Creatures: Elizabeth Bennet & Charlotte Lucas

For more Jane Austen adaptions, go to Is You’ve Got Mail Really an Adaption of Pride and Prejudice?