Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Epistolary Novel
TIME FRAME: 1791 through early 1798
MAIN CHARACTERS: Mr. Collins and Mr. Bennet
In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Bennet says “I would not give up Mr. Collins’s correspondence for any consideration.” What if that were true? It is quite conceivable to imagine they would continue to correspond, isn’t it? After all, Mr. Collins did initially have the desire to “heal the breach” and extend an olive branch to Mr. Bennet. Even though they didn’t become in-laws to each other, Rose Servitova shows readers that Mr. Bennet and Mr. Collins did indeed continue to correspond for many years, and that their relationship would develop, grow, and evolve in unexpected ways!
WHAT I LOVED:
- A Spotlight Secondary Characters: How clever to take two minor characters and tell a whole story about them! Other secondary characters such as Georgiana Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Charlotte Lucas, Kitty and Mary Bennet all have several novels about them, but for Mr. Bennet and Mr. Collins there is a scarcity! It was a unique experience to see certain events through the eyes of these two characters, and to witness the budding relationship between them. While the Darcys and Bingleys are mentioned and readers are given updates on their lives, this story centers upon those who live in Hunsford, Rosings, and Longbourn.
- The Letters: Having read and loved several Austenesque epistolary novels (A Visit to Highbury, Dear Mr. Darcy) I was so happy to see that this book was fully comprised of letters between Mr. Bennet and Mr. Collins! I appreciated how the letters for each year were divided by a brief summary of what took place that year, and how easy it was to tell Mr. Collins’s correspondence from Mr. Bennet’s (Mr. Collins’s letters were in all italics, Mr. Bennet’s were not).
- The Humor: With Mr. Bennet’s sardonic wit and Mr. Collins’s absurd pomposity, these exchanges will certainly make you chuckle, smirk, and roll your eyes! I especially thought the funniest bits were when Mr. Collins would gently reprimand Mr. Bennet in his way “I know you to be a gentleman of excellent etiquette and therefore, I will assume that you are quite ill and have been so indisposed as to make the writing of a letter impossible…” (page 32) and when Mr. Bennet would have his little jests at Mr. Collins’s expense “But your own nose, Mr. Collins, being bulbous, adds plenty of character to your face and suits you perfectly for if a person takes on look at your face, cousin, they have your character in an instant…” (page 102)
- The Tidbits: Through the correspondence of these gentleman we learn the fates of other P&P characters such as Anne de Bourgh, Kitty Bennet, and Mary Bennet. It was interesting to see what become of them and the new characters introduced to these story-lines. There was more than one surprising development. 😉
- The Evolution: It was heartwarming and touching to see how both Mr. Bennet and Mr. Collins matured and evolved. Mr. Bennet’s letters went from ironically stating “We none of use would rob Charlotte Lucas or any of the Lucases one moment of pleasure in your company…” (page 22) to “Come at once, if you please, my heir and friend.” (page 182) I loved seeing how both men softened with time, how they would bond over gardening, how Mr. Bennet took a special interest in Mr. Collins’s children, and how Mr. Collins would share his concerns and fears with Mr. Bennet like a son would. It was a splendidly satisfying evolution and Ms. Servitova skillfully and gradually brought these two characters closer together than ever before.
WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:
If anything, I wanted more. 🙂
WHAT I WISHED WAS EXPLAINED: I was curious as to why the author chose 1791 as the year Pride and Prejudice events began. Most often P&P stories are set between 1797 and 1813.
With great perception and ingenuity Rose Servitova delivers an excellent debut novel filled with humor and heart! I love that Ms. Servitova went where no one has gone before, and I sincerely hope we will see more from her in the near future!