“The Clergyman’s Wife is a compelling, beautifully rendered view into the soul of Pride and Prejudice’s Charlotte Collins, and into the bittersweet realities of the life of compromise she chose when she married for security rather than love. Molly Greeley manages to tell Charlotte’s story in a refreshingly contemporary style while at the same time keeping the reader’s feet firmly planted in a time gone by.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
The Clergyman’s Wife by Molly Greeley is an impressive debut based on one of the secondary characters of Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice.
The Clergyman’s Wife in question is Charlotte Collins, nee Lucas, who accepted the proposal of Mr Collins after Elizabeth Bennett turned him down, and once married , moved with him to the parsonage at Huntsford, under the eagle eye of the somewhat imposing Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
Having chosen to marry for security rather than love, Charlotte is trying to make the best of her new situation by being a good and devoted husband to the rather annoying Mr Collins and a good mother to their young daughter Louisa , but is tempted by a blossoming friendship with a local farmer who comes to help with the garden. Unlike Mr Collins, he is interested in what she has to say, and soon she finds herself seeking out his company, despite feeling that she is betraying her husband.
I have to admit that I did not have very high expectations for this book, after all there are so many variations on Pride and Prejudice out there, and from the little we learned about Charlotte in that book, she did not seem like a very interesting character to pin a whole book on. However the author does a wonderful job of rounding out her character, and showing the circumstances that lead her into the decision to marry Mr Collins, and the dilemma that she faced is further highlighted by both her attraction to Mr Travis, the farmer and by her younger sister to marry for love, knowing that it will not benefit her circumstances.
Familiar characters like the overbearing Lady Catherine and the pompous Mr Collins felt like the versions we are familiar with from Pride and Prejudice, and the overall setting and tone of the book felt like it matched the original. I would happily recommend this book to fans of Pride and Prejudice.
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.
Added 4th May 2020