Miss Jane Bennet was pretty, sweet and tolerable. Her only flaw was that it had taken Miss Bingley considerable effort to wrench her brother back from pursuing a disastrous union between them. Elizabeth Bennet was by far worse. She was distressingly strong willed, oddly alluring to men in general and, most horribly, to Mr. Darcy in particular. Miss Bingley couldn’t think of anyone worse to meet in London.
(from Miss Bingley’s Christmas)
Renata McMann and Summer Hanford’s short story, Miss Bingley’s Christmas, is a variation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that finds our beloved characters in London for Christmas. Set after Caroline Bingley conspired to remove her brother and the rest of their party from Hertfordshire to separate him from Jane Bennet, the story finds Caroline and her sister, Louisa, stranded in a freezing carriage on their way home from a trip to the flower market. Caroline hopes her Christmas preparations bring her closer to becoming Mrs. Darcy, but all her plans go awry when she and Louisa are forced to abandon their carriage, find themselves soaking wet and lost, and are rescued by Jane and Elizabeth Bennet and their aunt Gardiner.
Being forced to stay at the Gardiners’ home for Christmas Eve gives Caroline a chance to observe the Bennet sisters and their relations and relax in their company. When Mr. and Miss Darcy arrive for Christmas dinner with other guests, including a Joseph and a Mary, Caroline takes a good look at the people around her and even inward, seeing the differences between “Miss Bingley” and the true “Caroline” for the first time.
Miss Bingley’s Christmas packs a lot of character development into a short story that can be finished in less than an hour. The story takes place over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so Caroline’s soul searching and revelations occur rather quickly, but that is to be expected and didn’t dampen my enjoyment. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy take a back seat in this story, and at first I was a bit hesitant to spend too much time in Caroline’s head, but it worked here as her observations uncover some pretty harsh truths about her expectations versus reality. But rest assured that there is a happy ending and an epilogue set during the following Christmas. Although I wish Miss Bingley’s Christmas had been longer (it really would make a great novel or novella), it made for a quick and satisfying read during the busy holiday season.
Disclosure: Miss Bingley’s Christmas is from my personal library.