Plain and Proper Charlotte Finds Love!
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
“Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other, or ever so similar before-hand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always contrive to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life.” – Chapter 6 Pride and Prejudice
What a bleak and unromantic view of marriage Charlotte Lucas had! Did marriage to Mr. Collins refute or support her conviction? Did seeing the blissful and affectionate marriages of her dear friends Jane and Elizabeth Bennet alter Charlotte’s opinion on marital felicity? Is love and happiness in marriage more important than financial security and a home of your own?
In Jennifer Becton’s beautiful Pride and Prejudice sequel, Charlotte Collins receives the opportunity for a second chance in love. After seven exasperating and tedious years of marriage, Mr. Collins passes away in an unfortunate carriage accident. Charlotte, now in her mid-thirties, enjoys a life of independence and solitude as she lives off the jointure Mr. Collins begrudgingly set up for her. Charlotte’s peace and quiet is soon interrupted when her younger sister Maria becomes a permanent house guest and coerces Charlotte into being her chaperone. Charlotte finds herself revisiting the world of balls, beaus, and romance as she assists Maria in finding a felicitous match. It soon becomes apparent though, that Maria is not the only one who has romance on the mind…
We don’t encounter all our old friends from
Pride and Prejudice since the story focuses extensively on the lives of Charlotte and Maria, but Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy, and Lady Catherine all make a brief appearance. Nonetheless, we are introduced to several new, original, and well-defined suitors in this tale. Mr. Card is a wealthy young man with a strong regard for Maria Lucas, but does Maria think of him as more than a friend? Mr. Whitfield and his uncle Mr. Benjamin Basford are Americans touring the continent, and both of them seem to take pleasure in the company of Maria and Charlotte. However, ever proper and practical Charlotte takes an instant dislike to Mr. Basford’s inappropriate familiarity and lax manners. Lastly, we are introduced to a Mr. Edgington, a distant bachelor relative of Lady Catherine’s who seems develop an intense and fervent interest in Charlotte. It was a pleasure to meet all these intriguing and brilliantly developed new characters.
I absolutely love it when an author takes a secondary Austen character, brings them to the forefront, and transforms them into an admirable hero or heroine. What a delight it was to read a novel that centered on these two diverse sisters who were previously only minor characters! One aspect of this novel I took great pleasure in was discovering the parallels between Charlotte and Maria and the Dashwood sisters. With a head full of romantic notions and her blatant disregard for society’s standards, Maria Lucas reminded me very much of Marianne, and Charlotte’s sensible levelheadedness and realistic disposition made me think of Elinor. There are other subtle nods to Jane Austen’s novels to be found in this tale, such as Charlotte being blinded by her prejudices and Maria displaying, very publicly, her feelings for a certain gentleman. My only tiny quibble about this novel is that Maria, whom I guess to be in twenties now, was a little too flighty and heedless for her age. I felt she was sometimes a little too much like Lydia Bennet.
Charlotte Collins by Jennifer Becton is a deeply satisfying and captivating read. If you have desired a better fate for Charlotte Collins or are intrigued by the idea of her becoming a heroine, then this is the novel for you! I am completely enamored with the romantic and tender love story in this novel, and I dearly hope that this is only the beginning of Ms. Becton’s Austenesque writing career!
This is my eleventh completed item for the “Everything Austen Challenge II” hosted by Stephanie’s Written Word.