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

I Attended the Bridgerton Experience in San Francisco

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please pick me.

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

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

As you can see one glove to take photos.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aw!

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

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

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

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

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

Julian Barnes

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

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

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

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

Emma (1996) AKA the Gwyneth Paltrow Version

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

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

Mystery, you say?

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

We are hot!

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

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

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

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

If you do attend my advice is:

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

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

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?

Pride and Prejudice: The Game

So last year I reviewed the card game Marrying Mr. Darcy, and decided that this December I will review another Jane Austen game, Pride and Prejudice: The Game.

Each player chooses two corresponding couples: Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley, Lydia Bennet and Mr. Wickham, & Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins. Each of your couple will start in a different location (for example Elizabeth at Longbourn and Mr. Darcy at Pemberley).

The object of the game is to collect all Regency Life tokens (nature, tea time, society, music & dance, and letters); along with The Novel tokens: Vol. I, Vol. II, and Vol. III. The areas to store the tokens are located on the back of your character sheets.

To gain Regency Life tokens you have to go around the board and enter different locations from the book and purchase the tokens. You need a token from each category to win. You can use both characters of your couple to collect them or just move one around the board.

To gain The Novel tokens, you have to answer trivia about Pride and Prejudice, needing to gain each volume (answer three questions correctly) to win.

Of course there are other squares on the board that will redirect you, cause you to lose money, gain money, and lose a turn.

If you run out of money, you can return home and gain two shillings, or you can sell tokens back to the bank for money as well.

Once you have all the tokens needed you must have both couples to enter the church, but you must enter by an exact roll of the dice.

Now this is the tricky part, I ended up losing the game as I had only one character in, and just could not roll the right number to send the other in.

I thought this game was fun, except I didn’t like the initial set up. It took forever as you had to punch out every card and token. I don’t mind doing some, but for the price you are paying for this game it would have been nice if the cards were already done and the tokens were the only ones you needed to punch out.

I thought this game was a lot of fun, except unlike Marrying Mr. Darcy, it can only be played by people who like and know Pride and Prejudice. The trivia questions weren’t too difficult but you need at least a basic knowledge of the story to play.

The game moved a bit slow in the beginning, but once you have the tokens and are close to getting everything, it picks up.

I would recommend this for Pride and Prejudice fans who have friends or family that equally love it and are willing to play it with you.

This definitely would be great for a Jane Austen book club or to play at a Jane Austen tea party (although it is only for four people). I do wish they had two more couples you could play, I know the Gardiners, Hursts, and Bennets are already married but they could have included them; or Kitty, Mary, and Georgiana. But otherwise this was an interesting game and a great way to test your Pride and Prejudice trivia.

For more Pride and Prejudice games, go to Marrying Mr. Darcy: The Pride and Prejudice Card Game

For more Jane Austen games, go to Jane Austen Birthday Party: Jane Austen Trivia

For more Jane Austen products review, go to Jane Austen Runs My Life Spooky Collaboration with Madsen Creations!

For more Pride and Prejudice, go to You Ever Notice That Harry Potter is Kind of Like Elizabeth Bennet in the Way He Treats Snape and She Treats Mr. Darcy?