Elizabeth Adams, author of The Houseguest –(my favourite), Green Card and Unwilling is back with a short story collection, where ‘the people of Pride and Prejudice move on, grow up, and explore paths not taken. Time leads these beloved characters down roads of self-discovery, courage, and heartbreak. And sometimes the journey takes them to surprising places.’
The stories are independent tales, so I review them one by one.
Mistress of Longbourn starts with the Collins family occupying Longbourn. I loved that the author wrote quite a lot about the Bennet family, however I was also afraid that it will turn into the story of the Bennets rather than how Charlotte and Mr Collins cope with the difficulties, but by the end everything fell into place, especially that the Bennets were significant part of Meryton society with their estate and also as former neighbours of Charlotte they were part of her life longer than Mr Collins, though 17 years passed already since her marriage. Charlotte’s musings about Mary Bennet and generally the Bennets were very well written and fascinating. You will see that Mrs Bennet has more significance and accomplishments than we tend to ascribe to her.
Life after Darcy is one of my favourite from the short stories. Caroline Bingley is everything she is in Pride and Prejudice and then she is everything I wanted or wished her to be. There is a beautiful scene where she is walking and out of the blue she understands a certain person. First time I needed tissues. Then it ends in the grand manner! Elizabeth Adams is quite generous to her. More tissue needed… Another little thing I loved here were the names. All of them. It’s a little thing, but can you love a story when you don’t like the names? Sounds a bit like Anne Shirley, but she had valid points when she analysed the names in Anne of Green Gables.
First attachments is a cute love story between Lizzy and a childhood, boy-next-door friend.
To do her duty – Well, if I said the author was generous with Caroline Bingley in Life after Darcy, she was not generous to Mrs Bennet in this story. You’ll need tissues! I like that both, Mistress of Longbourn and To do her duty portrayed Mrs Bennet in good light.
To Fool a Fool – OMG! and OMG! again. This is definitely a short story which could be developed into a novel. So much potential! My favourite scenario in a weird way. I had no idea I could cry (because of sadness) and laugh (because of the absurdity of the scene) at the very same time. I felt sick in my stomach because I knew and dreaded what was going to happen… I had to take a break. All I say without giving away a lot is that the main protagonists are Mr Collins and Elizabeth and they are behind closed doors… It takes a lot of courage and skill to paint that grotesque / funny / sad / upsetting picture with words! Think about it! Someone, namely Elizabeth Adams imagined what Jane Austen herself couldn’t. I’m almost sure no one can read it with joy, but hey ho! try to get over the first paragraph and if you get used to the idea of what will come, you’ll enjoy the absurdity. Both characters are true to themselves and don’t worry, there is poetic justice, if we can talk about poetic justice when the author ‘mixed it up’ on purpose. I mean, you’ll see how the main character of the next story had it coming, poetic justice needed, but it comes from the original character’s behaviour, so his fate is unavoidable: it has to end how it did. On the other hand, in this instance, we have not a bad but a ridiculous person who ended up on the Other Side because the author couldn’t possibly leave Elizabeth in such a dreadful situation. Don’t forget to have some chocolate close to you…
He had it coming – The first part of the story is rather disturbing and dark. You’ll need lots of tissues. Luckily the author compensates in the second part and as depressing as it is in the beginning, as idyllic the second part is. We can sort of expect from the original what happens here, but the author just made it ‘real’ in this story. As annoying Lydia is, who wants to see her suffer as much as she is suffering here. I’ve read lots of books where Wickham was sent away or killed off, but the fate Elizabeth Adams destined him is way too good for him. On the other hand, it’s not fair on two or three other characters. And that’s where Darcy comes in with my favourite scene where we get to know what he thinks about the whole situation. It is amazingly Darcyesque. Elizabeth Adams had an eye on details. This exactly what makes the whole story prefect.
I heartily recommend this book as it is a delightful collection of short stories, which I will happily read again.