Book Review: The Clergyman’s Wife

The Clergyman’s Wife by Molly Greeley is one of the best adaptations of a Jane Austen book that I have read. The main character is Charlotte Lucas; the book imagines her life after she married Mr. Collins. In Pride and Prejudice, Charlotte’s decision is a practical one. She tells Elizabeth, “I am not romantic you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home.”[1]

Greeley does an excellent job portraying the limited choices available to women like Charlotte who remains unmarried at 27 and is not a beauty. The fact that Mr. Collins is gainfully employed as a minister and has a wealthy woman, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, as a benefactor probably would have been enough to make him a good catch. However, his prospects which include being the heir to Longbourn really sealed the deal.

One of the most interesting parts of the book is Greeley’s expansion of the Greeley back story. The knighting of Mr. Lucas was not a complete blessing. The Lucas family was better off, financially when he owned a haberdashery shop. The family’s social elevation reduced the marriage options for both Charlotte and Maria.

The plot involves Charlotte forming a friendship with a local farmer, Mr. Travis. Through this friendship, she gains a better sense of what a marriage built on love and mutual interests might be like. Charlotte also realizes that this was not ever a viable option for her.

In the other good adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, Longbourn, by Jo Baker, Mrs. Bennett dies, and Mr. Bennett lives into old age. In that book, the entail of Mr. Bennett’s estate is not discussed. Because Charlotte is Greely’s heroine, the entail becomes a plot point in The Clergyman’s Wife.

After Charlotte has been married for several year, lost a child at birth and has a young daughter, Mr. Bennett dies. The estate at Longbourn now belongs to Mr. Collins. The inheritance requires the Collins to leave Hunsford and Lady Catherine de Bourgh. It also means that Charlotte and Mr. Travis must part.

In Pride and Prejudice, Charlotte makes a practical choice which Elizabeth disparages. Elizabeth has a much happier outcome when she marries Mr. Darcy. The Clergyman’s Wife has a more realistic ending for Charlotte and by inference many women in the early 19th century. In the end Charlotte’s need to have both love and economic security remains unmet.

[1] Jane Austen, The Annotated Pride and Prejudice, annotated and edited by David M. Shapard.

Welcome

Welcome to my renovated website. If you are a first-time visitor, I am very glad you are here. I first started having a website in anticipation of the publication of my first book, Brewing Battles: A History of American Beer. Brewing Battles was published in December, 2007. I have had a lot of fun talking and writing about the book, beer, and the alcoholic beverages industry.

I have had a WordPress blog for almost four years. This new site is my attempt to put the blog front and center and to give my readers a better sense of my presence in social media. Since the publication of Brewing Battles, I have started work on a new project, Dames, Dishes, and Degrees. This new website provides an opportunity for me to showcase the work I am now doing.

This new site is not completely done yet.  You may notice “Under Construction” signs on some of the pages. Please visit frequently to see further updates.

I will continue to write about beer, women, history, and nursing. I may have some things to say about politics as well. If you have been following me for any part of the five years I have been online, thank you so much. I hope you will continue to visit; leaving comments would be great. If you want to contact me, please click on the contact page. Cheers!

Revisiting Old Posts

I have recently been thinking about the thirty-eight posts from my pre-wordpress blog.  I  realized that people might want to see what else I have written on a topic and there isn’t an easy way to do that. I thought about re-posting all of them, but that seems like too much work. I also thought about linking to them every time I am on a topic again, but I would get stuck in an endless loop. So I will just remind all of my readers that you can go to  my website and find the old posts. Click here to do so.

Welcome

Welcome! If you are visiting this blog for the first time, I am very glad to have you here. I have had a blog since February but it was more low tech, more journal than blog. The title of my book is Brewing Battles: A History of American Beer and the publishing and publicizing of the book has engendered some battles as well. For now suffice it to say that it was not easy to switch from the manual “musings” page on my website to this legitimate wordpress blog.

If you are a repeat visitor, welcome as well. If you were redirected from amymittelman.com/musings.html please bookmark this site – amymittelman.com/musings. I will continue to use this blog to talk about Brewing Battles, beer, the brewing industry, alcohol and temperance and some life issues including politics as well. Now it will be very easy for people to comment so I hope you all will.

If you want to visit the main site, you can click here or on the side of the blog under About. Cheers!