Sunday, 1 June 2014


Discovering Jane Austen when you are young is a particular pleasure. Not only can you delight in the stories and the characters, but you are also guided by the author’s voice as to exactly what to make of them.
When I first read the novels, I shared Austen's scornful attitude to the snobbishness and vulgarity of Mrs Elton in Emma. I winced at Emma's self-delusion. I derided the vain Sir Walter in Persuasion. I rooted for the meek and overlooked Fanny in Mansfield Park.
And how I mocked Mrs Bennet in Pride and Prejudice for her limited intelligence and lack of judgement. As for Charlotte Lucas in the same novel – I shared Elizabeth's opinion of her. How could she marry such man as Mr Collins?
Really, I thought, with the certainty of youth, Charlotte is letting down women everywhere. She sacrifices self-respect for the sake of a comfortable home, I thought, with the smugness of one who had yet to fend for herself in the world.

Two things happened to alter some of my views.
First of all, I re-read the novels several times. I studied them in more detail. I became more sensitive to nuances, and became more aware of the author's skill in directing my response.
Then, life itself intervened, and suddenly we were grown-up, then more grown-up. And at one of those evenings with grown-up friends, all discussing their daughters' boyfriends and their suitability or lack thereof, and venues for weddings, and the cost involved, I suddenly thought, ‘When did we all become Mrs Bennet?’

All at once, Mrs B doesn’t seem so bad. What’s wrong with wanting the best for your girls? What’s wrong with hoping that they marry men who can afford to keep them? It’s not as if Austen’s heroines could have careers.
And doesn’t Mrs Bennet make the best of a bad job, being married to a clever man who clearly regrets that he was carried away by her youthful good looks, and does nothing but tease and mock her?
And guess what, Charlotte doesn't seem so bad either. She isn’t the first or last woman to marry for pragmatic reasons. There would have been no point in Charlotte holding out for romantic love – it just wasn’t going to happen.
Charlotte is clear-sighted. She sees her future and it doesn’t look bright. She wants a husband and a comfortable home – just like many young women today. So she sees her chance and takes it. After all, she is very unlikely to receive another proposal of marriage.
These observations led me to creating modern-day equivalents of the characters and themes of Pride and Prejudice.

I wanted to explore the choices and compromises that women make in the search for love and happiness in our complicated 21st Century lives.
I particularly wanted to bring the Mrs Bennet figure on to the central stage, so enter Patsy Nicholson, an attractive woman with three grown-up single daughters and an intriguing past.
I’ve taken lots of liberties with the novel, but hope that I have preserved its spirit – and there are plenty of references for Janeites to pick up!  I hope you enjoy reading Charlotte's Wedding as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Mary Rizza
About the author
Mary Rizza has published three other novels, Living Doll, The Love You Make, and West Beach Summer, and also writes non-fiction under the name of Mary Hartley.

Charlotte’s Wedding is available worldwide on Amazon 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Lúthien84 said...

You share some good points there, Mary. For me, I still can't accept Charlotte's reasoning. I choose not to settle down with someone whom I cannot respect and love so I'd rather be alone and surrounded by friends and family.

Thanks for the giveaway offer and best of luck in adapting the other five Jane Austen's novel to modern culture.

Patricia Finnegan said...

I'm really curious about Mrs. Bennet version in this book!

RS said...

This sounds like an interesting take on an often over looked character. I especially like your own re evaluation of the characters in Austen's work based on your own life experiences.

Ceri T said...

I always felt a bit sad for Charlotte, not so much that she'd married for monetary reasons, because it was just a reality then that many gentlewoman chose marriage as preferable to being a poor relation or destitute. The main reason I pity her is Mr Collins because he's so cringeworthy!

I think it's admirable that Mrs Bennet actively cares for her daughters' futures, more so than the lackadaisical Mr Bennet who just assumes that everything will turn out alright without any input from him! I always think it's a shame when she is portrayed harshly in Austen-inspired books.

cyn209 said...

i'm excited to read this!!!
thank you for the writing it!!!

junewilliams7 said...

Mrs Bennet - despite her ill behaviour - does indeed care enough about her daughters' future to want them married. I've always wondered what it would take for Lizzy to appreciate her mother's efforts... probably a better suitor than Mr Collins.

I'm very curious how you translate Charlotte for a 21st century audience. This sounds very intriguing!

BeckyC said...

I can accept Charlotte's basic idea of marriage for herself, especially for her time, but come on! Mr Collins? I still think that is taking it too far.Lol. I am intrigued! Thank you for the giveaway.

Anji said...

An interesting twist on Charlotte's story and it sounds like it would be an interesting read. I still find Charlotte's decision slightly mystifying but then I haven't had to make that sort of decision in my life.