When Charlotte Lucas married Mr. Collins in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, she believed herself to be fortunate indeed. Her nuptials gained her a comfortable home and financial security. If she acquired these things at the expense of true love, it did not matter one whit. To Charlotte, love in marriage was nothing more than a pleasant coincidence.
As the years of her marriage dragged by, Charlotte began to question her idea of love as she suffered continual embarrassment at her husband's simpering and fawning manners. When Mr. Collins dies, finally relieving everyone of his tedious conversation, Charlotte must work feverishly to secure her income and home. She gives no further thought to the prospect of love until her flighty sister Maria begs her to act as her chaperone in place of their ailing parents. Hoping to prevent Maria from also entering an unhappy union, Charlotte agrees, and they are quickly thrust into a world of country dances, dinner parties, and marriageable gentlemen.
But when an unprincipled gentleman compromises Charlotte's reputation, her romantic thoughts disappear at the prospect of losing her independence. As she struggles to extricate herself from her slander, her situation reveals both the nature of each gentleman and of true love.
©2010 Jennifer Becton (P)2013 Jennifer Becton
SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
Charlotte Lucas was one of the most intriguing characters in Pride and Prejudice, so I was delighted when I stumbled across this "spin-off."
And for the most part, it wasn't a wretched disappointment. There were moments of laugh-out-loud merriment, and I was particularly delighted that Mr. Collins was offed right there in the first paragraph. Ah, Charlotte's new life begins at last! And her little sister, Maria, moves in with her and helps her live it.
There is a lot of charm here. Maria is a goader, a prompter, a thorn in Charlotte's side. And a major concern. Lots of Charlotte's energy has to be devoted to chaperoning her, rather than to thinking about and living her own life. But Maria does get Charlotte to wonder about those widow's clothes she's been wearing, about that widow's life she's been living.
And when Maria starts attracting suitors? Well, those suitors have chaperones also, don't they? And some of them aren't half bad.
I really liked that the writing here, the situations were kept true to the time period. Charlotte's worries and woes are real, given such, and she's fleshed out well-enough that we worry right along with her. I also liked that there was tension even though I knew how it would all turn out. I found my toes curling with delight, hoping that this character would say this and that character would do that. How fun.
What kept this from being a four-star listen, though, was the narration. Anne Day-Jones does a perfectly respectable job with the narrative, but her delivery of male voices, our hero most importantly, comes out flat and monotonous. Even her delivery of Charlotte at the end starts falling into the "dull" vein. So the only thing that keeps the reader/listener going is the writing, the text itself (Great job, Jennifer Becton!). Which is a bummer.
Still, for a romance that's about this particular era, for a character that's already known and loved by Austen fans, this book runs true.
I love a good story!
This story kept you wanting to hear more. I liked the twists and turns.
Although you knew the probable end at times you were not sure. I like the language and the customs.
The narrator had good voice range but was stilted at times
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