Book Review: Charlotte by Helen Moffett

I am very pleased to bring you my review of Charlotte by Helen Moffett.

For fans of Longbourn and The Other Bennet Sister, this beautifully told story of marriage, duty and friendship follows Charlotte’s story from where Pride and Prejudice ends.

Everybody believes that Charlotte Lucas has no prospects. She is unmarried, plain, poor and reaching a dangerous age.

But when she stuns the neighbourhood by accepting the proposal of buffoonish clergyman Mr Collins, her fortunes change. Her best friend Lizzy Bennet is appalled by her decision, yet Charlotte knows this is the only way to provide for her future.

What she doesn’t know is that her married life will propel her into a new world: not only of duty and longed-for children, but secrets, grief, unexpected love and friendship, and a kind of freedom.

I have had this book for a little while, along with Longbourn by Jo Baker. Pride and Prejudice is my favourite book – it’s like a comfort blanket. When I’m struggling to read, or don’t know what book to pick up next, Pride and Prejudice is always the right book to fill that gap. So I love the idea of reading other peoples take on characters from such an important novel to me. But I then get a little scared to actually pick them up and read them. What if those authors ruin the characters? What if their view of Pride and Prejudice is different to mine? So I have put off reading these novels, because I couldn’t face the disappointment. I finally gave myself a talking to though, and picked up Charlotte by Helen Moffett.

Charlotte Lucas plays a relatively minor role in Pride and Prejudice, despite being Lizzy Bennet’s best friend. At 27 years old, the community has written her off as a spinster at a time when marriage was the only thing that could provide security to a young woman of her standing. Her sudden marriage to the incomprehensible Mr Collins causes upset within the Bennet household, and places an immense strain on Charlotte’s relationship with Lizzy. Mr Collins is depicted as a buffoon; very little intelligence with an unhealthy obsession with the upper classes, namely Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Due to this, Lizzy cannot believe that someone of Charlotte’s intelligence would marry him of her own free will.

Charlotte gives us such a clear insight into the life of Charlotte Collins and the decisions she makes, along with the reasons why. Helen Moffett has achieved what I hoped she would – a clear, smooth link to Pride and Prejudice. She understands Jane Austen in a way that I had really hoped for. She depicts Charlotte in exactly the way I imagined her to be – a practical woman looking for security, but hopeful for a peaceful, meaningful life.

I really loved this novel. I loved following Charlotte, and I surprisingly enjoyed learning a little more about Mr Collins, a character with more depth than we could really see or imagine in Pride and Prejudice. Helen Moffett has respected Austen’s work, and provided us with a new story that is completely sympathetic to a novel that I, and many others, love. I am more than happy to recommend this novel to you all. If you love Pride and Prejudice then this is definitely the novel for you.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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