Rational Creatures edited by Christina Boyd
For those of you who might have missed the last post, Rational Creatures is an anthology of short stories on the different women of Jane Austen:
But not just the main heroines-there are a few other side characters like Miss Bates-and of course a couple of bad girls like Mary Crawford and Mrs. Clay. Each story gives us a look at these rational creatures.
So far we have reviewed Elinor and Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility with Self-Composed by Christina Morland and Every Past Affliction by Nicole Clarkston; Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Lucas from Pride and Prejudice in Happiness in Marriage by Amy D’Orazio and Charlotte’s Comfort by Joana Starnes; Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, and Harriet Smith from Emma in Knightley Discourses by Anngela Schroeder,The Simple Things by J. Marie Croft and In Good Hands by Caitlin Williams, & Fanny Price and Mary Crawford from Mansfield Park in The Meaning of Wife by Brooke West and What Strange Creatures by Jenetta James And what have I thought of it so far?
This one is on Persuasion:
In Persuasion, Anne is the middle daughter of a Baron and is often ignored by her father who really only cares about himself. She becomes engaged to a naval soldier, but after speaking to her mother’s best friend, was persuaded it wasn’t the right decision.
Years pass, and another proposal, and Anne has grown older, wiser, and regretted turning her love down. With her father spending more than they have, they have to let the house, and the Admiral and Mrs. Croft rent it. Mrs. Croft’s brother, Captain Wentworth, comes to visit who happens to be the same soldier that she was engaged to! I don’t have to tell you that an interesting plot ensues!
I’ve only read a few adaptations of Persuasion and I’m excited to read this one. I like that there is a Mrs. Croft story.
An Unnatural Beginning by Elizabeth Adams
The story takes place before the events in Persuasion, starting when Charles Musgrove is trying to court Anne, but she is not interested, she still pines after Wentworth.
It’s not that Charles Musgrove is a bad man its just he isn’t the right man.
“He was a perfectly decent man. Kind, respectable, well-mannered. But alas, he possessed one fatal flaw that not even the best of manners could redeem.
He was not Frederick Wentworth.”
And being with Charles only makes her think even more when she met Commander Wentworth. He was visiting his brother in Monkford and Anne encounters him at a get-together and the two spend time together. She is completely struck by him.
Back to the present, Charles continues to talk and court her, but she isn’t really present. The flame of her youth feels like it is dying.
Frederick proposes and Anne accepts, but then when she seeks advice-Lady Russell resoundly says no. I really enjoyed this part as all of Lady Russell’s arguments are extremely valid. I mean things could go wrong and she could become poor widow-a poor widow who’s father isn’t going to help out (you’ve seen him). Or she could have ended up like Mrs. Price, Fanny’s mom.
“A large and still increasing family, an[sic] husband disabled for active service, but not the less equal to company and good liquor, and a very small income to supply their wants…”
I really enjoyed how Adams makes Lady Russell not evil, cruel, or even a snob (just a touch snoby). And I liked how fear drove Anne’s decision to break it off with Wentworth, but it is an extremely relatable fear
I really liked that we got a view into both proposals, as I have always wanted to see how both went down. And raise your hand if you think Charles continued to pine after Anne even though he married her sister (that line about Sir Elliot moving Charles to take Mary off his hands was gold.)
But that ending though. It pierces the heart.
This story was so sad, absolutely heartbreaking, but in a god way. A real way. This was so relatable and I really loved the language used. One of my favorite parts is when she describes how she feels about her beauty and youth fading. I think we all feel that when we are disappointed, injured, or broken in love, that we used to be more fun, gregarious. etc. The whole thing was so good, so sad, so heartbreaking, and I think Jane would be proud. As for me:
Just kidding. It was a wonderful read, just get those tissues ready.
For more on Anne Elliot, go to Austen Avengers Assemble!
Where the Sky Touches the Sea by KaraLynne Mackrory
So this story picks up in the middle of Persuasion about chapter 8 before and after the dinner party. The Crofts are heading to out and their gig gets stuck in the mud, but they get through it together. This leads Mrs. Croft to think on their relationship and thier marriage.
This story was so cute and sad. But the good kind of sad. I don’t know how to review it without giving anything away. Just be prepared, if you are a crier-have tissues ready. It is just a sweet little story.
I’ve always loved the Admiral and Mrs. Croft and it makes me love them more. One thing I love about Jane Austen is how she has these horrible marriages (like Charles and Mary Musgrove, Sir Walter, etc.) but then these amazing ones like he Crofts. I think Mackrory really got the heart of the characters and I loved her story.
For more by KaraLynne Mackrory “Clandestiny” from The Darcy Monologues: Part I, The Regency
For more on Mrs. Croft, go to A Bit Pottery About Jane Austen
The Art of Pleasing by Lona Manning
So Mrs. Clay has an interesting backstory in this. She was “married” to a corrupt merchant who juggled the book and raked in every extra but he could. When things got too heated he took off, leaving Mrs. Clay with her two boys and nothing.
She heads home hiding her disgrace under the guise of widowhood and then implements herself into the Elliot household. It wasn’t her idea, but her father’s, the Elliot’s solicitor, as he wants her to gather intel on the Elliot’s expenditures and hopefully influence them to spend less.
Mrs. Clay does so and better than ever. She becomes Elizabeth’s best friend, so much that Sir Walter and Elizabeth choose to take her with them to Bath and leave Anne behind.
Mrs. Clay can’t really stand either of them, but is thrilled that about her new position. So thrilled at how Sir Walter trusts and leans on her. With this new possibility opening up, now Mrs. Clay starts using all her wit to try and snare him. She doesn’t like him, but does like becoming a lady, having a father for her sons, prestige, etc. And to rub Elizabeth, Anne, and Lady Russell’s faces in it would be great as well.
Everything was going well until Mr. Elliot came to town.
Yes, Mr. Elliot plans on seducing both sisters and Mrs. Clay away from Sir Walter. Will she resist or succumb?
I really enjoyed this as I always thought Mrs. Clay (like Charlotte Lucas) was cunning, although much shrewder, and a bit more a mistress of her fate than they show in adaptations. I like how the author made her witty and shrewd even though she wasn’t “educated”. (That line about Paris was hilarious). This was great and spot on-that ending was perfect.
“A lady would have said, ‘Sir! What do you take me for?’
I whispered, ‘Yes.”
She and Mr. Elliot deserve each other.
And this was perfect right after the two sadder stories.
For more by Lona Manning, go to “The Address of a Frenchwoman” from Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MILD
Louisa by the Sea by Beau North
So we start this story after Louisa has had her fall. Louisa was very headstrong, stubborn, and always insisted on having her own way-
There was too much wind to make the high part of the new Cobb pleasant for the ladies, and they agreed to get down the steps to the lower, and all were contented to pass quietly and carefully down the steep flight, excepting Louisa; she must be jumped down them by Captain Wentworth. In all their walks, he had had to jump her from the stiles; the sensation was delightful to her. The hardness of the pavement for her feet, made him less willing upon the present occasion; he did it, however. She was safely down, and instantly, to show her enjoyment, ran up the steps to be jumped down again. He advised her against it, thought the jar too great; but no, he reasoned and talked in vain, she smiled and said, “I am determined I will:” he put out his hands; she was too precipitate by half a second, she fell on the pavement on the Lower Cobb, and was taken up lifeless! There was no wound, no blood, no visible bruise; but her eyes were closed, she breathed not, her face was like death. The horror of the moment to all who stood around!”
We start off with her recovering and North does a great job showing what it is like. My friend’s brother injured his head in a car accident and North was spot on with what they go through .
Louisa slowly recuperates, and who is by her side? Wentworth? No. Captain Benwick. Captain Benwick has a sad backstory, he fell in love with a woman who became sick and passed away. He hasn’t been able to do much since, but here he aids Louisa, by her side every moment, eating with her, reading to her, just all around supporting her.
The rest of her family feels awkward or unsettled or unsure what to do, but Benwick takes charge and helps.
Louisa has to relearn what to do, has violent headaches, a lot of trauma to noise, and seizures. Everyone thinks she is in love with Captain Wentworth, but Louisa has fallen head over heels (literally?) for Captain Benwick. Now how to convince him?
Oh my gosh this story was so cute. I never really liked Louisa in Persuasion she just kind of annoyed me and of course we want Anne and Wentworth TOGETHER. But this gave a whole new spin and view on her. And I have always loved Captain Benwick, and I think this story just continued to show how wonderful a character and man he is. And they are so gosh darn cute together!!
“Are you certain?’…’Am I certain? No, my dear captain, it is far worse. I am determined.”
For more by Beau North, go to “Fitzwilliam’s Folly” from Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MILD
These stories were just as great at the others, but be prepared-have tissues at the ready for those first two .
So far all have been amazing and we only have a few stories left?! Where did the time go? How are we almost at the end?
I guess all I can say is stay tuned for the final post.
For more reviews of Rational Creatures, go to Rational Creatures: Fanny Price & Mary Crawford
For more by Christina Boyd, go to Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith
For more Persuasion, go to It Sucks to Be Lady Elliot
For more Austen book reviews, go to Rational Creatures: Elizabeth Bennet & Charlotte Lucas