Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Charlotte by Karen Aminadra

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Personal Kindle Library
Read: May 10, 2013

When Charlotte Lucas married Mr Collins, she did not love him but had at least secured her future. However, what price must she pay for that future? She once said she was not romantic, but how true is that now after almost one year of marriage? Mr Collins is submissive in the extreme to his patroness, and his constant simpering, fawning and deference to the overbearing and manipulative Lady Catherine de Bourgh is sure to try the patience of a saint, or at least of Charlotte. As Charlotte becomes part of Hunsford society, she discovers she is not the only one who has been forced to submit to the controlling and often hurtful hand of Lady Catherine. She feels trapped and realises her need for love and affection. She is not as content as she once thought she would be. The easiest thing to do would be to maintain the peace and do as she is told. But as Charlotte witnesses the misery around her due to her inimitable neighbour, she must decide to remain as she is or to begin a chain of events that will change not only her life but also the lives of those around her in the village of Hunsford forever. But...after all, doesn't every girl deserve a happy ending?

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In the world of Austen based lit, Karen Aminadra's Charlotte was a pleasant surprise. I'd picked it up as a freebie and didn't expect much from the piece, but ultimately enjoyed the author's refreshingly original take on Mr. and Mrs. Collins. Building on Austen's beloved classic, Aminadra chronicles the early days of William and Charlotte's marriage, offering readers the opportunity to indulge their love of Pride and Prejudice while affording two of its minor characters a rare chance at redemption. 

What I liked most about the piece is how natural it feel alongside the original. As with all spin-offs, I feel it important for writers to acknowledge the spirit of the piece on which their story is based. As such, I truly appreciated that Aminadra allowed the character attributes Austen established in the original to factor in her continuation. The said, the depth Aminadra brings to William and Charlotte is certainly worth acknowledging. The Collinses are fairly one dimensional beings in Pride and Prejudice and  I was drawn to the idea that time, perspective and circumstance might allow them to grow beyond those 'first impressions' and into a mutually compassionate and loving couple. 

Aminadra isn't as charitable in her treatment of Lady Catherine de Burgh, but every good story needs an antagonist. The indomitable mistress of Rosings caused her share of trouble in Pride and Prejudice, but her campaign against Lizzie has nothing on her treatment of Hunsford and its residents. While not exactly endearing, the character proves an excellent foil for the Collinses and brings an exceptional sense of melodrama to the novel. I have similar feelings regarding Colonel Fitzwilliam, but again, the story needed someone to push Charlotte and really liked how his role furthered the narrative.

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Charlotte paused with her cup halfway to her mouth at his invitation to meet her again there in the clearing. She did not know how to react. Her mind screamed that she was a married woman and that her husband was a clergyman but her body and heart had other ideas.
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