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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Charlotte Collins

I started reading the classics out of a desire to improve my Trivial Pursuit game.  

(Go ahead, laugh.  I'll wait)

I read Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility and fell in love.  I was amazed at how relevant her stories still were.  For the most part you could bring her characters into 2010, and other than updating the wardrobe and a few social customs, you'd still have a wonderful story.

As you all know, the problem with falling in love with dead authors is that they don't produce a new book every year.  To cope, I turned to fan fiction and then promptly turned away again.  I didn't like the way other people depicted my beloved characters.

But then...

...along came Charlotte Collins by Jennifer Becton. Charlotte was a minor character from Pride & Prejudice, but one I thought worthy of spending more time with. And so I put aside my ban on all fan fiction and downloaded Jennifer's book. 

In P&P, Charlotte marries the insufferable Mr. Collins -- who had first proposed to Charlotte's friend, Lizzie.  It is while visiting newlywed Charlotte that Elizabeth receives her first marriage proposal from hunky Mr. Darcy.  After that, we don't hear anything more from Charlotte.

Until now.

In Charlotte Collins, we join our heroine as she's burying her husband. Now, I'm not one to celebrate anyone's passing, but I gotta say I received a sort of sadistic pleasure in knowing Mr. Collins went first.

(as an aside, I always picture David Bamber as Mr. Collins)

Suddenly Charlotte was single again.  And a little more inclined to look for love this time around.  While chaperoning her little sister, Maria (who was not so little anymore), Charlotte is thrown into the path of a couple eligible bachelors. Maria, too.  

Things don't go quite as they should, of course. (What kind of book would it be if they did?)  Due to a mistake in judgment, Charlotte hovers near ruin, while Maria has her own share of man trouble.

I had two issues with this book - and neither of them are probably Jennifer's fault.  First, I had trouble accepting Maria as an adult.  Can't blame Jennifer for that!  The second issue was I had trouble believing Charlotte's error would completely ruin her.  In Jennifer's defense, I haven't read any historical fiction for a few years.  I think I had trouble shedding my modern-day goggles.

Overall:  I enjoyed Charlotte Collins, and I'm glad I gave it a chance.  I was happy to journey with Jennifer Becton as she imagined a new life for Charlotte. And I'm THRILLED to think of Charlotte living a more comfortable life without the oppressive Mr. Collins or the interference of 'the honorable Catherine de Bourgh'.

I haven't forgotten my mission.  Mr. Craig Niedermaier, instead of reading Charlotte Collins, why not read THIS instead?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Never read any of those books.
And sorry, still chuckling over that first line. That's got to be the best blog post opener ever!

Emy Shin said...

Oh, I didn't know there's a book about Charlotte! It sounds interesting -- and I always did wish she had a happier and more lovely ending. Thanks for the review!


Oh, I can't tell you how much I loved reading this post. The Charlotte Lucas character in Pride and Prejudice is so utterly fascinating; what a great idea to expand on her character. She's the anti-Lizzie Bennett in so many ways, and it's interesting to see her get the main heroine treatment.

Thanks for posting about it--I never would've learned about the book otherwise. And I agree with you completely that Austen's novels are wonderful--every single one of them.

Janet Johnson said...

Sounds like an interesting read. I haven't ventured toward Fan Fiction . . . I don't know why it bothers me so much to have characters messed with by someone other than the author! But Charlotte Collins does sound interesting. You've made me curious. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Love it! That's probably the best reason for reading some of them. I hate to admit it, but I didn't enjoy Jayne Eyre or any others in that genre - just not my thing. I often wonder if I should try it again because so many people love it. One of these days...

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I am totally in love with your Craig Neidemaire badge! I wish I would have a wicked cool dream like you did...

Nice job on the review...I hope you improve in trivial pursuit...

Carol Kilgore said...

So...have you figured out how to improve your Trivial Pursuit game yet?

Clarissa Draper said...

Charlotte is one of my favorite characters as well. I always envied her life however. I loved how she kept him busy while she enjoyed her solitude.


Jennifer Shirk said...

I really thought Charlotte would be a good character to get to know more of too! I don't remember "Maria". Kind of glad to know she wasn't "stuck" with Mr. Collins for too long. Sounds like a good book!