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

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

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

Better Not Be Disrespectin’

So there are somethings that are just inexcusable:

Things that are absolutely horrible:

But the absolute worse, the penultimate-

You have been judged. Negotiation’s over. Sentence is death.

Just kidding…Or am I?

Hmmm….

I guess you will just have to treat my books right.

For more book posts, go to I Don’t Want a Lot for Christmas, There is Just One Thing I Need

Time Flies When You’re Reading

When I was on vacation, I spotted this in a little bookstore.

I know my husband will be buying one of these for me in the future. I can’t help it:

When I start reading, it just is so hard to stop.

And chores?

What can I say? I just love to read.

For more book-filled posts, go to All You Need Is…

For more L. M. Montgomery quotes, go to It’s 5 O’ Clock Somewhere