Thursday, June 11, 2020

Fiction mini-reviews

The Clergyman’s Wife, Molly Greeley 
A Pride and Prejudice fan novel (see another by P.D. James here), that follows Charlotte Lucas, who married Mr Collins, the annoying clergyman who would inherit Longbourn (Elizabeth’s childhood home). Greeley has creatively explored what Charlotte’s life would have been like post-marriage with a husband who was earnest, but foolish, under the intrusive patronage of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Charlotte is now a mother, and has struggled to find her place in the parish until a friendship with local farmer Mr Travis develops. I read with some trepidation from here, but I felt that Greeley kept true to the conventions and social requirements of the day. It ended up being a very enjoyable dip back into a similar world to the one Jane Austen created. 

Victoria, Daisy Goodwin 
A very readable historical fiction covering the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign. She was brought up in protected seclusion by her mother and her advisor, Sir John Conroy, who long to control her, but Victoria is determined to forge her own path upon becoming queen at 18. However, she lacks any real knowledge of how to fill that role. Enter Lord Melbourne, the Prime Minister, who takes her under his wing, teaching her what is required. Victoria is outspoken and strong-minded, and many people around her are convinced she needs a husband to help ‘tame’ her. Yet, are her affections drifting towards the wrong man? It has led me to search for more reading on Queen Victoria, for I suspect she is a fascinating character study. 

Saving Missy, Beth Morrey 
Missy is 79 and completely alone, rattling around her large London family home. Her husband of 50 years is gone, she longs to see her son and grandson, but they’re in Australia, and she’s estranged from her daughter. After chance encounters with two local women, she ends up minding a dog for them, Bobby, which forces her to engage more with her local area and the people in it. As she gets involved in other’s lives, she opens herself up to them as well. Woven throughout the current day events are her memories of her childhood, university days, marriage and years of mothering. There were a few turns along the way that kept both interesting and realistic. A lovely gentle book about a woman finding the value of sharing life with others.

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