Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
Oh, be still my heart – it is a novel about Colonel Fitzwilliam! (Squeee!) Of course the dashing and charming colonel has been the subject of many an Austenesque work, but in this novel…he is explored, developed, and featured in ways like never before. If you are intrigued to learn more about this easy-going and amiable man and observe his journey through trials and personal growth, then read on!
This novel begins several years before the opening of Pride and Prejudice, where we learn that Colonel Fitzwilliam and Charlotte Lucas were summertime playmates and each others’ first loves. But due to Colonel Fitzwilliam’s need to marry a woman with a sizable dowry, he pushes Charlotte away. After severing their ties, Colonel Fitzwilliam keeps his distance from Charlotte; and Charlotte, because she doesn’t want to end up a spinster, finagles a proposal out of witless Mr. Collins two years later. What happens when they meet again at Rosings? What kind of tumultuous journey does life take them on? Will there ever be an end to their forced separation and unhappiness? (Well, we can guess the answer to that last one, but my goodness, is the outlook bleak!)
Our dear Colonel Fitzwilliam is not in a good place. After receiving severe injuries in battle, the colonel has a lot of time reflect and evaluate his life while convalescing for several months in London. Broody Fitzwilliam is dejected and defeated by his life: After more than of a decade of serving in the army he has nothing to show for it except battle scars and disfigurement. After spending his whole life strictly adhering to his father’s wishes and demands, Fitzwilliam has yet to earn the man’s approval and receives nothing but reprimands from him. And if that it isn’t enough, he is frustrated by the fact that he doesn’t have a residence of his own, the means to purchase one, or the freedom to marry whomever he wants. (Isn’t life just peachy?!?)
There was so much I loved and admired about this book, it is hard to decide what I enjoyed most! I loved the author’s introspective and plausible approach to these characters, Ginger Monette perceptively expands these characters and creates a history between them that is believable and gratifying. I greatly enjoyed the storyline and development of Anne de Bourgh – for once, she becomes an inspiring and engaging character! I admired how Colonel Fiztwilliam and other characters found solace through music and enjoying nature. I thought it interesting that Charlotte had a talent for herbal remedies and Colonel Fitzwilliam had a growing interest in managing estates. And lastly, I found the integration of faith and religion to be very well-balanced in this novel. It wasn’t preachy or heavy with religious undertones, it instead stressed the importance of forgiveness, patience, and having a relationship with God. It was inspiring to see Colonel Fitzwilliam (and then later on Charlotte) find peace with their lives and think philosophically about the trials they are put through.
Tree of Life – Charlotte and The Colonel is an emotional and thoughtful companion novel to Pride and Prejudice. I loved the depth and development given to Charlotte, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Anne de Bourgh, and I admired their growth and strength through countless obstacles. Beautiful, romantic, and fulfilling – I highly recommend!