The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh Book Review

One of the great things about fanfiction is that the writer has the opportunity to shine the spotlight on characters who the reader knows very little about in the original text.

The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh by Molly Greeley, was published at the beginning of the year. The novel focuses on Anne de Bourgh. In Pride and Prejudice, Anne is the daughter of Lady Catherine de Bourgh and the cousin of Fitzwilliam Darcy. Supposedly sick from birth and engaged to her cousin, she fades into the background without the audience truly knowing who she is as a person.

The Anne we are introduced to in Greeley’s novel is not the quiet, retiring character that exists in Austen cannon. She is vivid, intelligent, and curious. But because her imperious mother continues to believe that her daughter is unwell, she is prevented from the experiences that she would have had otherwise. Finally gathering enough nerve to break with Lady Catherine, Anne flees to London, where is she welcomed by her cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam.

When Anne’s strength has recovered, she begins to see what life can truly offer. But being that she has been locked away from society her entire life, she is unprepared for the not so polite underbelly of the season. This includes love with a person that she could have never expected. Anne must not only contend with forbidden romance, but with her mother, who is still determined to rein her daughter in.

I loved this book. This is how fanfiction is done. The balance between what the reader knows about Anne de Bourgh and where Greeley goes with the character is fantastic. I loved the LGBTQ twist that she adds, elevating what could be a predictable narrative into a story that the reader does not see coming.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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The Clergyman’s Wife: A Pride & Prejudice Novel Book Review

Up until the recent past (and in still in some parts of the world), a woman’s only option was marriage. If she was lucky, the backbone of the relationship would be love. But for other women, the choice of a husband is a pragmatic decision.

The Clergyman’s Wife: A Pride & Prejudice Novel by Molly Greeley, was published last December.

The book takes place three years after Pride and Prejudice has ended. Charlotte Collins (nee Lucas), the best friend of Elizabeth Bennet, has a busy life. Completely aware that she did not marry for love, she is juggling being a wife, a young mother, and her responsibilities to her husband’s parishioners. Her husband, William Collins is not the brightest bulb in the box and. His patroness, Lady Catherine De Bourgh is not afraid to speak her mind. She balances it all with an ease that many would envy.

Then she meets Mr. Travis, a local farmer. For the first time in her life, Charlotte feels like she is more than her myriad duties and the self perception that she is plain. The question is, does he feel the same way and if he does, do they have a future together?

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I like that the author chose to use Charlotte Lucas as her main character. It is rare that she would be given the spotlight in a JAFF (Jane Austen Fanfiction).

The problem is that I did not feel the chemistry between Charlotte and Mr. Travis. I wanted to believe that for the first time in her life, she was the romantic heroine who had a chance at true love. Unfortunately, I didn’t.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Thoughts On The Anniversary Of The Publishing Of Pride and Prejudice

*Warning: this post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or watched any of the adaptations.

There are some books that continue to speak to us on a broad cultural level, regardless of the era when they were published.

Pride and Prejudice is one of these books. Written by Jane Austen and published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice continues to be one of the most popular and relevant books in our culture.

While on the surface, Pride and Prejudice is the story of the rocky courtship between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzilliam Darcy, it is much more than that. Austen was an astute observer of her era, using her novels to subversively point out the human foibles of her characters and the social misfires that are as relevant today as they were in 1813. Whether it was the disenfranchising of women (the Bennet girls automatically disqualified from inheriting the family home because they are women), the snobbery of the upper classes (Lady Catherine de Bourgh) or the foolishness of marriage for marriage’s sake (the not so happy marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet), Austen was not afraid to use her writing to reveal some hard truths about her world.

In addition to Pride and Prejudice, Austen published five other novels in her lifetime. She died at the age of 41, not knowing that her popularity would last centuries after her death.

I am going to end this post with Thug Notes edition of Pride and Prejudice because, I can’t think of a better way to honor Pride and Prejudice.

Pride And Prejudice Character Review: Lady Catherine de Bourgh

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

On either end of the 1% spectrum, there are two kinds of people. On one end is the Bill Gates type, the person who uses his or her name and fortune to help those less fortunate. On the other end is the person who expects the rest of us to kiss their behind and fawn all over them just because they are famous, powerful and wealthy.

Jane Austen’s most notable member of the 1% community is Lady Catherine de Bourgh, from Pride and Prejudice. The elder sister of Mr. Darcy’s late mother, Lady Catherine is everything that the 99% expect of not just the upper classes, but the aristocratic set.  Lady Catherine is a first class snob who talks over everyone, thinks she is always right and has kept her only child, Anne, on a very short leash.  Under the assumption that her nephew and her daughter have been betrothed since childhood (despite any lack of evidence), Lady Catherine is far from pleased that Mr. Darcy may have an interest in Miss Elizabeth Bennet, a young woman from a middle class family whose dowry is small and whose family home is entailed away to Mr. Collins. Mr. Collins is not just Elizabeth’s cousin (and her father’s heir), but also  Lady’s Catherine’s rector.

Every good story needs a villain, an antagonist to the main character. While Lady Catherine is not a villain in the traditional sense, her opposition to Elizabeth makes her the villain in Pride and Prejudice.

To sum it up: Sometimes stereotypes are good, but only in small doses. While Lady Catherine is very much a stereotype, she is also the perfect antagonist to Elizabeth, the lead female character. If Austen was using Elizabeth as an example of how to act and how to grow from your mistakes, Lady Catherine is very much the opposite. She remains staunch in her beliefs, refusing to change or believe that her nephew would be happy married to Elizabeth. In creating Lady Catherine, the polar opposite to Elizabeth, Austen created a villain who is unforgettable. Characters must stand out to engage a reader or an audience member. If I take one lesson away from reading Pride and Prejudice, that is the lesson. Without memorable characters, the story falls flat and the reader/audience will walk away.

Pride and Prejudice Character Review: Mr. Collins

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Pride and Prejudice. Read at your own risk if you are unfamiliar with the book.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Pride and Prejudice to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

There is a fine line between confident and being full of it. While some of us recognize where that line is and try not to cross it, others are completely blind and cross that barrier without knowing it.

In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Collins is full of it. He is awkward, obnoxious, a kiss ass and basically makes most readers toes curl in disgust. But he is also Mr. Bennet’s heir and set to inherit Longbourn one day.

From a practical perspective, a woman could do worse, especially in an era when her only option is marriage. He has a steady income from the church, is set to inherit a reasonably sized estate and has the patronage of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. He may not be the smoothest or most charming of men, but who cares when you have a roof over your head, steady income and a husband who is loyal?

Yet Jane Austen knew better.

When one of her nieces, Fanny Knight was of an age to marry, her very wise aunt provided sane advice.

Anything is to be preferred or endured rather than marrying without affection.

Mr. Collins knows that the most natural choice of a wife would be one of his cousins. He first sets his eyes on Jane, but is advised that she is soon to be engaged. Then he proposes to Elizabeth. The results are both comical and skin crawling.

When Elizabeth turns him down, Mr. Collins goes to the next best choice: Charlotte Lucas. With fewer choices available to her than Elizabeth, Charlotte says yes.  Mr. Collins finally has a respectable wife he can introduce to his patroness.  Content in his choices and lifestyle, Mr. Collins spends the rest of the book as he was when the reader met him: obnoxious, a kiss ass and full of it.

To sum it up: Not all characters grow or see the errors they have made over the course of the narrative. Some characters remain the same and are blind to how the other characters see them. Mr. Collins is one of those characters. While he is one of Austen’s most comical characters, he is a statement piece on how not to act.  A writer’s job is to find the balance between comedy and drama,  growth and stagnation and characters that audience loves and characters that the audience hates. That balance is one of the keys to success and keeping the reader hooked until they have turned to the last page.

 

Pride and Prejudice 1995 Vs Pride and Prejudice 2005

I think it is pretty safe to say that Pride and Prejudice is Jane Austen’s most famous novel. Most people, regardless of whether they have read the novel or not, have at least heard of it.

Part of it’s success is due to the adaptations that Hollywood has provided us. The most famous adaptations are the 1995 miniseries and the 2005 movie.

Like my previous post about Mansfield Park , I will try to honestly debate both adaptations.

1995 Pride and Prejudice

Cast: Elizabeth Bennet (Jennifer Ehle), Fitzwilliam Darcy (Colin Firth), Mr. Bennet (Benjamin Whitrow), Mrs. Bennet (Alison Steadman), Lady Catherine De Bourgh (Barbara Leigh-Hunt)

Pros: Colin Firth in clingy pants (that ingenious line is from Lost In Austen, which I highly recommend). Sorry, I had to get that out.  Aside from that, Firth and Ehle have solid chemistry. It’s just there, you know that something is going to happen between their characters regardless of how much of the novel the viewer has read. There is so much detail in this adaptation, it is as if Miss Austen was on set during filming.  Every actor is perfectly cast.

Cons: The only con that I can think of is that some of the actors were a bit older than their characters, especially the parental figures in the novel.  But it’s not really a con because they were so effective as their characters that you forget there may be a 10 or 15 year age difference between the actor and the character.

2005 Pride and Prejudice 

Cast: Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley), Fitzwilliam Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen), Mr. Bennet (Donald Sutherland), Mrs. Bennet (Brenda Blethyn), Lady Catherine De Bourgh (Judi Dench)

Pros: This is a well put together movie. Director Joe Wright and screen writer Deborah Moggach created a very marketable movie that appeals to all, not just the Janeite fandom community. As Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam, Knightley and MacFadyen are both age appropriate and effective in their roles. This was my first real introduction, not just to Pride and Prejudice, but to Miss Austen as well. It works as a gateway to the other novels and overall Janeite fandom.

Cons: It is a 2 hour movie. The difference in making a 2 hour movie versus a 6 hour miniseries is that sometimes story lines have to be condensed and characters have to be cut out.

In conclusion, the winner is…. The 1995 miniseries

 

 

Anne De Bourgh and Anne Elliot: Depression In Jane Austen’s Fiction

Anne De Bourgh and Anne Elliot: Depression In Jane Austen’s Fiction

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any reader who opens the pages of Jane Austen’s novels will find characters with traits that we, as modern readers are still able to relate to after 200 years. This not only applies to the main protagonists of the novels, but also to their parents.

Any reader familiar with Austen’s writing will note that the parental figures with her novels are often flawed. Perhaps it is because the majority of her heroines are between the ages of 17 and 21, when we are figuring out who we are as individuals, separate from the identities cultivated within our families.

The genesis of my theory comes from two separate breakout sessions from the 2013 JASNA Minneapolis AGM. The first session,  concentrated on how Jane Austen’s relationship with her father influenced the relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and her father, Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. The second session inquired as to what was the cause of the ill health of Anne De Bourgh, also from Pride and Prejudice.

The best of these parents are Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice and Mrs. Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility. Despite their own personal failings, both have tried to raise their daughters as best they could.  The worst of these parent are Sir Walter Elliot in Persuasion and Lady Catherine De Bourgh in Pride and Prejudice. Austen seems to have cut both characters from the same cloth.

The focus of my thesis is of the mistreatment of Anne Elliott and Anne DeBourgh by their respective parents and how that mistreatment leads to depression.

The symptoms of depression include: *Low or irritable mood most of the time, a loss of pleasure in usual activities, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, a big change in appetite, often with weight gain or loss, Tiredness and lack of energy, feelings of worthlessness, self-hate, and guilt, difficulty concentrating, slow or fast movements, lack of activity and avoiding usual activities, feeling hopeless or helpless and repeated thoughts of death or suicide.

Both Sir Walter Elliot and Lady Catherine De Bourgh are of aristocratic backgrounds, single parents, overconfident and outspoken, almost to the point of bullying everyone around them. While their daughters were provided with the material comforts of life, they were not provided with self esteem and self respect. Self esteem and self respect, I believe are as important, if not more important than material comforts.

In Volume 1, Chapter 1, Austen describes Sir Walter as the following:

*“His good looks and his rank had one fair claim on his attachment; since to them he must have owed a wife of very superior character to any thing deserved by his own. Lady Elliot had been an excellent woman, sensible and amiable; whose judgement and conduct, if they might be pardoned the youthful infatuation which made her Lady Elliot, had never required indulgence afterwards.–She had humoured, or softened, or concealed his failings, and promoted his real respectability for seventeen years; and though not the very happiest being in the world herself, had found enough in her duties, her friends, and her children, to attach her to life, and make it no matter of indifference to her when she was called on to quit them.–Three girls, the two eldest sixteen and fourteen, was an awful legacy for a mother to bequeath; an awful charge rather, to confide to the authority and guidance of a conceited, silly father.”

Within the first chapter of the novel, Austen uses only two words to describe Sir Walter’s opinion of his middle daughter “only Anne”.  These words set the stage for the person who Anne is when we meet at the beginning of the novel. Her mother is dead and her father clearly prefers his eldest daughter.

Sir Walter places little value in his younger daughters, Anne and Mary. Anne’s only support comes from her mother’s close friend, Lady Russell, who despite her good intentions sees the world from the same point of view as Sir Walter.

In her book, The Glass Slipper: Women And Love Stories, Susan Ostrov Weisser tells us the following about Lady Russell “In Persuasion, the heroine, Anne Elliott, must choose between her desire for her lover and a tradition order of moral rules that govern a woman’s life, including respect for and obedience to authority, represented by Lady Russell”. In short, Anne is a good girl and follows the rules that have been taught since childhood. By following these rules, she is going against her own desires and needs. She is clearly suffering from low self esteem and guilt, having learned that is easier to submit to other needs and desires than to speak up for herself.

Anne seems to be very much her mother’s child, based on the little bit of information we have of the late Lady Elliott. Loosing a parent at any age is difficult. But to loose a parent at a tender age and left with a father who chooses not to emotionally engage himself in his daughter’s lives sets the stage for an unhappy adolescence and an unhappy adulthood.

Lady Russell may have been the one who convinced Anne to break her engagement with Captain Wenworth, but I believe it Sir Walter who Anne is trying to please by breaking her engagement. Depressed and not yet confident in her own decision making, Anne gives up the man that she loves to please a father who will never be pleased.

In Pride and Prejudice, Lady Catherine De Bourgh and her daughter, Anne is often spoken by Mr. Collins, but we do not meet them until Volume II, Chapter 6.

Lady Catherine is described as

*“A tall, large woman, with strongly-marked features, which might once have been handsome. Her air was not conciliating, nor was her manner of receiving them such as to make her visitors forget their inferior rank. She was not rendered formidable by silence; but whatever she said was spoken in so authoritative a tone as marked her self-importance, and brought Mr. Wickham immediately to Elizabeth’s mind; and from the observation of the day altogether, she believed Lady Catherine to be exactly what he had represented.”

Anne De Bourgh is described as:

*“She could almost have joined in Maria’s astonishment at her being so thin, and so small. There was neither in figure nor face any likeness between the ladies. Miss De Bourgh was pale and sickly; her features, though not plain, were insignificant; and she spoke very little, except in a low voice to Mrs. Jenkinson, in whose appearance there was nothing remarkable, and who was entirely engaged in listening to what she said, and placing a screen in the proper direction before her eyes.”

We know that Lady Catherine is the daughter of an Earl; her sister was the late mother of the novel’s leading man, Fitzwilliam Darcy. She is a widow, her husband, Sir Lewis De Bourgh, has been dead for an unknown number of years. Austen does not provide her readers with any details about Sir Lewis or his relationship with his wife and daughter.

Based upon what little information we have about Sir Lewis, I believe there are one of two theories about Sir Lewis and his relationship with his daughter. The first is that he learned early in his marriage to acquiesce to his wife’s demands. His daughter also learned at an early age that it was simply easier to let her mother get her way, rather than speak up for her own needs.

The second theory is that Sir Lewis was his daughter’s companion and protector. When he died, his daughter lost the emotional support she did not receive from her mother. In her novel Mr. Darcy’s Diary, Amanda Grange illustrates this possibility

Poor Caesar. I had forgotten about Anne’s exploits. She was much more lively as a child, when her health was good” I remarked.

“And when she has Sir Lewis to defend her”.

Sir Lewis had always been fond of Anne, and she in turn had been fond of her father. It had been a sad blow to her when she died.”

Anne De Bourgh, like Anne Eliott suffers from depression. Her symptoms include loss of pleasure in usual activities and a big change in appetite, often with weight gain or loss. Her appearance, in addition to her silence in the novel, to me, are indicative of a woman that learned long ago that it was better to be silent rather than arouse her mother’s temper.

Jane Austen was a writer ahead of her time. She was also an observer of her fellow human beings, noting both their strengths and their weaknesses. Of the two Anne’s, only Anne Eliott is able to break from her depression, build up her confidence and trust herself to make her own decisions. Anne De Bourgh, we are told at the end of Pride and Prejudice remains as she is when we meet her at Rosings half way through the book.

Could it be coincidence that she named two of her characters, Anne, both who suffer from depression and live with parents who are unable to provide their daughters with the necessary emotional support? Or has Austen discovered that the secret to raising children who will become successful adults is to teach their children self respect and self esteem?

*-Medline Plus-http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003213.htm

*-Italics notes text from the novel and supporting information. All text from the original novels are from www.austen.com

* Mr. Darcy’s Diary, by Amanda Grange

*-The Glass Slipper: Women And Love Stories, by Susan Ostrov Weisser.

Letter From Lady Anne

*-These characters (with the exception of the Darcy children) with love and respect, belong to Miss Austen. I am simply a humble admirer.

Letter From Lady Anne

The letter had been discovered by one of the maids. The youngest Darcy children, the twins, Miss Frances Darcy and Master Charles Darcy had grown to an age appropriate to leave the nursery and inhabit rooms of their own.

The rooms chosen for them had long been closed up, storing the clothes and personal effects of their late paternal grandmother, the Lady Anne Darcy. The maids were charged with preparing the rooms for the children when the letter fell out of last remaining trunks.

After briefly reading the letter’s contents, it traveled swiftly from the hands of the maid to Mrs. Reynolds straight to the master’s study.

Fitzwilliam Darcy, the master of Pemberley and the son of Lady Anne was stunned by the contents of the letter.

“My dear Fitzwilliam

I am sorry, my darling boy that I will not live to see you grow to manhood. There is still so much I wish to teach you, but it seems that fate has other plans for me. Mind your father and be the brother Georgiana will need in the coming years. I cannot write for very long, as my strength leaves me quickly.

If I am to make one last request of you, Fitzwilliam, is that when you are of an age of marry, marry only for love. Your Aunt Catherine will tell you that a lady’s fortune and rank will tell you if she is worthy of your hand, but do not her guidance sway you. Listen only with your heart, it will guide you to a lady who is worthy enough to possess it.

Your aunt has confided in me that she wishes a match between you and Anne. It is not my wish, nor is it your fathers, unless you truly love Anne and she loves you. Trust your heart, my dearest son, and I promise you will have everything you desire.

I am always, your loving mother, etc
Anne Darcy

“Find Mrs. Darcy. Tell her I must see her immediately” Darcy said to the maid walking by his study, carrying the linen.

“Yes, sir”.

“Darling, what is it?”.

“This is the proof I have been hoping for” Fitzwilliam had always known that he and Anne were not suited as husband and wife. His marriage to Elizabeth had been a happy marriage, producing three children, including the requisite male heir. And yet, his aunt was as vociferous as ever in her criticism of his wife, their children and their home.

“I must away to Kent immediately; the abuse ends today”.

“Fitzwilliam!” Elizabeth called out, but her husband had already called for the horses to be made ready.

“Mr. Darcy, to see you ma’am” he was announced at Rosings.

“Have you finally come to your senses, nephew?” his aunt demanded.

“You, madam, from this day forward, will cease and desist the abuse you have heaped upon my wife and my family. My mother only wished for me to be happy in my marriage, regardless of whom I married. It has been your wish and your wish alone that I had married Anne”.

“How dare you insult me in my home” Lady Catherine rose to her feet, her defiance as great as her nephew’s “It was mentioned me many times by my sister that she wished to see you and Anne wed”.

“Do you not recognize your own sister’s handwriting?” The letter was placed in her hands.

“She must have been mistaken; my sister was too romantic for her own good”.

“I do not believe my mother was mistaken in her wish for my future. I will say this one more time, cease and desist the abuse, otherwise I will return”.

For the first time in a long time, Lady Catherine DeBourgh was silent. For the rest of their years together, neither Elizabeth, Fitzwilliam or any of their relations heard of any previous abuse from Lady Catherine.

Letter From Rosings

*-Of course I do not own any of these characters.

 Letter From Rosings

“Your mail, sir” Darcy’s man handed him the bundle of letters.

“Thank you”.

Among the letters of business was one from Rosings.

“What now?” he asked aloud, expecting another blistering letter from his aunt, Lady Catherine De Bourg, insulting his fiancée, Elizabeth Bennet and demanding that the marriage be halted.

But he was surprised to see that the letter was from Lady Catherine’s daughter and his cousin, Anne.

“Dear cousin Fitzwilliam,

 Do not be alarmed, sir, for I am not writing to you as my mother has. I have always known that we are ill matched and any marriage between us would be an unhappy one, despite what my mother believes.

 When Miss Bennet came with Mr. and Mrs. Collins to Rosings last year, I saw how much you loved her.  She is spirited and intelligent and I knew she was the only woman you would ever be happy with.

 Please convey my blessing  your fiancé and I look forward to the day when I may call her cousin.

 Yours, etc

Anne De Bourg”.

 

“Now that is a nice surprise” Darcy thought to himself.

“Your carriage is waiting, sir” Mrs. Reynolds knocked on the door.

“Thank you” he replied. He had some business to complete in Meryton before spending the rest of the day with Elizabeth.  She would be pleased with the letter from Rosings.

 

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