Posts Tagged ‘the clergman’s wife’

Happy New Year, friends! Sorry it’s taken me so long to take stock of last year’s reading, but last year definitely wasn’t a normal one for me…and unfortunately I don’t see a return to normalcy anytime soon. Between working overtime nearly every day, grappling with some health issues and all the associated stress, and losing a beloved pet and having to work through that grief, my reading and writing dramatically dropped off. In fact, after years of reading 50-100 books a year, I only managed to finish 16 in 2020. Of course, quality matters more than quantity, and thankfully, I read some good books last year! Here are my favorites from that list:

What were your favorite books from those you read last year? I’d love to see your lists, so please let me know in the comments!

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Source: Review copy from William Morrow

The Clergyman’s Wife is a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that follows Pride and Prejudice‘s Charlotte Lucas as she builds her life in Kent after marrying Mr. Collins. Molly Greeley tells Charlotte’s story from the first person point of view, so readers really get to know her and understand why she was willing to marry a laughingstock of a man who had been rejected by her best friend. Charlotte has given up any foolish notions of romance and love in exchange for security, but she finds happiness with her infant daughter, Louisa.

Greeley describes the early days of their marriage and how Charlotte settled into her life as the clergyman’s wife. She cares for Louisa, suffers through William’s sermons with the rest of the congregation, calms his anxieties and redirects his attentions whenever possible, endures visits to Rosings and the high handedness of Lady Catherine, and worries that she is not up to the task of caring for the families of the parish. When Charlotte befriends Mr. Travis, a tenant farmer of Lady Catherine’s, she is thrown off kilter, not used to being truly seen and heard.

Greeley’s Charlotte is a complicated character, one who understands the obstacles life has thrown in her path and takes practical steps to overcome them — and who also understands that her choices cannot be undone. It was easy to get lost in Charlotte’s story because she felt real. She knew her options were limited and followed her mind, not her heart, in choosing her path. She knew her husband was ridiculous but made the best of a difficult situation, holding onto moments of tenderness that seemed few and far between. Greeley’s Mr. Collins isn’t cruel; he seems self-centered, obsequious where Lady Catherine is concerned, and careless with his words. It’s easier to understand Charlotte’s reasoning for marrying him than it is to understand how she is going to put up with him until death do they part — especially after watching her friendship with Mr. Travis evolve.

The Clergyman’s Wife gives Charlotte a chance to tell her story, and a chance to see what she might have had. The Darcys and the Bennets make appearances, but this is truly Charlotte’s story, an emotional battle of sorts between the desire for love and the reality of her life as Mrs. Collins. It gave me a new appreciation for Charlotte and is definitely one of the best Pride and Prejudice-inspired novels I’ve ever read, staying true to Jane Austen’s character while breathing new life into her.

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