When Charles Bingley and Mr. Darcy made proposals of marriage to the Bennet sisters at the end of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Caroline Bingley was both distressed by her brother’s choice of bride and humiliated by Mr. Darcy’s rejection of her. And she made her objections known. Now banished from her brother’s household, Caroline must return to her mother’s home in the north of England until she can make amends with both Bennet sisters. Desperate though Caroline may be to return to polite company, she absolutely refuses to apologize to Miss Elizabeth Bennet, and instead, she seeks an alternative route back into society in the form of Mr. William Charlton, heir to a barony. Through her connections with Mr. Charlton’s sister Lavinia, Caroline begins to infiltrate the household in the hopes of securing the gentleman and his title for herself. However, she must also contend with her vexing emotions regarding Mr. Patrick Rushton, a once-wealthy landowner, and the meddlesome opinions of Mrs. Rosemary Pickersgill, the companion sent by her brother. When all that Caroline has ever dreamed of attaining: an ancient family name, a title, and a home of her own, is finally within her reach, will she grasp for it even if it means disregarding the workings of her own heart? Or will she cast off the trappings of society and give herself to true love?
Rating: 3 / 5
Caroline Bingley, one very proud woman without any sensitivity for the plight of others. In short, the embodiment of the polite society of England of the day.
Becton has stayed true to the portrayal of Caroline that was sketched by Jane Austen. Not only that but as I read it, the prose is styled in a way that you can’t point it and say that the story has been penned in the 21st, century and it is a mere historical. It feels to have been written in the time it is set in.
While reading Pride and Prejudice I fall in the category of people who could never ever sympathise with Caroline Bingley for her devious actions as pertain to her brother. Jennifer Becton, I would add, has humanised this character for me. Who was previously an extra now has more dimensions to her. Her character and her psyche is probed into.
Till the end, she remains the woman of pride and looking down at others but along the way she not only realises the wrongs she have done (however much they were done with good intentions), she also finds herself (let me again emphasise that she is not a changed person per se, just a better version of her own self).
Seeing that Austen had not given her any other attributes apart from being jealous of Elizabeth Bennet as the other secured Mr Darcy’s softer sentiments, it had left a huge playing field to develop this character into much more. I must add, it was done beautifully. Not once did I not think that the author is not talking about the Caroline I have read about in Pride and Prejudice.
She remains a woman full of pride but in all that cloak of vanity, there resides a woman who could not shed the morals of a class she spent her youth in.
It also highlights audience’s prejudice as well in forgiving Mr Darcy for the same thing no one could forgive Caroline Bingley for. And added to that, Mr Darcy has been hailed as the perfect image for the Right Man for more than a century!
Recommended to all Pride and Prejudice fans.
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