Sue Barr’s new novella, called Caroline is my first read from the author, and I have to say it is great. It’s witty, funny, emotional. The book is about can Caroline Bingley overcome of her obsession with Mr Darcy (we can’t really blame her, can we 😀 ) and let another man into her life to have a chance for happiness? When I started reading the book my first question was: does Caroline deserve her beau and vica versa? By the time I finished reading, I was convinced they are great together. The first sentence sets the tone: „Caroline Bingley descended the grand staircase and proceeded toward the breakfast room, barely acknowledging the footman who efficiently pulled a chair away from the table.” In brief, she is the Caroline we know from Austen’s. If Ms Barr’s aim was to hate her in the beginning and love her in the end, she did a great job.
There are so many things I loved in the book. The relationship between Max and Nathan is enviable. We rarely see relationships in books between blood-brothers like theirs.
Very beautiful scene when Caroline is “playing” on the pianoforte and Bingley enters. They have a conversation which will require some tissues. They leave to Gracechurch street which is my favourite scene in the whole book. You will need more tissues… The author shows beautifully what went through Caroline’s mind in the past and present. Basically she was prejudiced too. Being able to see Caroline giving a genuine compliment, a precious present to Jane and counting to 10 before replying to Elizabeth makes the scene wonderful and delicate. Probably the first time you see Caroline as a thinking and feeling woman.
Very interesting question comes up when the author calls Lord Nathan a rake. Lord Nathan himself says „I was a rake, Miss Bingley, a man who thought nothing of seducing little girls like you.” However Austen doesn’t use the word “rake” when she describes Wickham, we know that he fits the description very well too. The difference between them is that Wickham is poor as a church mouse, while the Lord is wealthy with more than great connections. When Louisa warns Caroline that he is known as a ‘notorious rake’, Caroline finds excuses and says that her sister ‘relied on second and third hand gossip.’
Elizabeth is as quick as ever, but surprise, surprise…Caroline too. In this story, it turns out, they are not as different as we thought, and I love it. I have always believed that Caroline is just like Darcy, was ‘given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit’. Her memories with her grandmother are the perfect example that she wasn’t a cruel, bad person before she aimed for wealth, fame and connections. She still remembers quotes from the Bible, her granny used to tell her, and all her memories with grandmamma are cherished.
I always love when authors don’t afraid to use new names. In Caroline we have many, like: Millicent, Maxwell, Nathan, Reginald; plus our favourites have new middle names like Fitzwilliam is Artur, Jane is Augusta, Caroline is Anastasia, Elizabeth is Sophia.
I would definitely recommend this novella. Ms Barr did a fantastic job playing with Caroline’s thoughts, actions and feelings.
Three winners will receive a paperback copy of “Caroline” and a Jane Austen Journal and three separate winners will receive an ebook copy of this book. (All giveaways are open to international winners.)