Jennifer was born in Washington, DC, and moved to the South as a child. She fell in love with books at an early age, and mysteries by Agatha Christie and other novels such as Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery, The Black Stallion by Walter Farley, and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen greatly influenced the course of her life.
Next September 1st Jennifer Becton will see her first novel, a Pride and Prejudice sequel, released. She is very excited, of course, and I'm happy to talk with her about her CHARLOTTE COLLINS and to introduce them to you! As always in this space you'll have the chance to win an autographed copy of the book leaving your comment and e-mail address. The giveaway is open worldwide and I'm going to announce the name of the winner next Wednesday 1 September.
Good luck to you all! Now it's time to welcome and thank Jennifer Becton.
As the title of your upcoming novel clearly states, you’ve chosen Charlotte Collins as your heroine. Can you tell us why?
At the end of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth had Mr. Darcy, Jane had Mr. Bingley, and all the other characters seemed to get what they deserved, but poor Charlotte, whose marriage was a product of prevailing matrimonial theories of the time, ended up with the odious Mr. Collins. To quote Mr. Darcy, I found it “insupportable.”
Charlotte Collins revolves around the Jane Austen quotation that opens it: “I consider everybody as having a right to marry once in their lives for love, if they can.” Charlotte had married Mr. Collins to remove herself as a burden to her parents, but it was now her time to find the love that she did not believe existed.
My goal was twofold: to allow Charlotte to grow and change based on her circumstances at the end of Pride and Prejudice but also to bring her back to the philosophical point where she started and allow her the chance to make a different decision. I wanted her to achieve the independence that she desired in Pride and Prejudice, but I also wanted her to see the truth of love. In order to do that, she had to lose everything: her husband, her child, her friend, and the independence she had so greatly desired. Only then would Charlotte be able to open herself to new possibilities.
Are Elizabeth and Darcy characters in your novel too? Do you tell anything of their story from Charlotte’s point of you?
I am also planning a serialized online companion piece chronicling Elizabeth and Charlotte’s correspondence throughout the action of my novel. This will offer a bit more of a view of Elizabeth and Darcy’s life after Pride and Prejudice and provide a more in-depth look at the rekindling of Elizabeth and Charlotte’s friendship.
Charlotte Lucas, Mrs Collins, has always been depicted as unattractive . What about your heroine?
Without revealing too much about the plot, is your Charlotte’s marriage to Mr Collins a mere marriage of convenience?
Now...to Mr Collins! Is he still a caricaturesque country clergy-man or did you improve him , at least a bit?
As such, over the course of their marriage, I believe Charlotte, whom Austen always portrayed as practical and intelligent, would have grown away from Mr. Collins and not more like him as some movie adaptations seem to hint. I imagined that Charlotte would become sensitized by her husband’s repeated social gaffes and would, therefore, become more of a stickler for good manners and propriety.
Among the Mr Collinses we’ve had on screen, who is your favourite one, the funniest one?
David Bamber was my very first exposure to Mr. Collins as a character. Even before I read the novel, David Bamber was my Mr. Collins, and he will likely remain my favorite. He seemed to capture the character’s simpering and fawning awkwardness perfectly. He was at once repulsive and pitiable, a difficult balance to achieve.
Did you re-write the scene in which Charlotte confesses to Lizzie her intention to marry Mr Collins?
If you did, what does poor Charlotte feel being treated like that by her best friend?
What do you think of the typical Austen happy ending? Has your novel got one?
This is my favorite question!
Why do I think so? People are naturally pessimistic; it takes work to remain optimistic. Just look at bookstore shelves, and you’ll find thousands of books about how to be happy and none about how to be a pessimist. Most people have no trouble finding the negative, but it takes great effort to transcend the trials and tribulations of the world. It is the human condition to find the negative, but it is the divine condition to transcend it. According to Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, comedies were more highly valued in the ancient literary world because they were reflections “of a revelation more complete. The happy ending of the fairy tale, the myth, and the divine comedy of the soul, is to be read, not as a contradiction, but as a transcendence of the universal tragedy of man.... Tragedy is the shattering of the forms and of our attachments to the forms; comedy, the wild and careless, inexhaustible joy of life invincible.” I think the ancients had it right.
That is not so say that Charlotte Collins does not include its share of tragedy or that the plot is wrapped up too neatly. At the beginning of the novel, Charlotte has lost everything: her husband, her child, her best friend, her security, and her independence. She is a lonely, unhappy woman, but she has the chance to redeem herself. As do all the characters in my novel. But not all of them make the right decisions by its conclusion.
Are you planning to write another Jane Austen spin-off or sequel? What is it about?
|Jennifer and her Darcy
Along with my Austen-inspired works, I have also written a literary novel (with a happy ending, of course) and am in the process of writing a series of mystery novels. In addition, I am collaborating with Laura Daley (www.daleytlc.com) on a nonfiction book about overcoming horseback riding fear. I hope to publish each book in due course.
If you had 3 wishes to change the destinies of 3 Austen characters, what would you ask and for whom?
Which is your favourite among her 6 major novels?
My two favorites are Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. I adore the characters of Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth was surrounded by such amusing companions, and I felt as if I knew them by the end of the novel. But I am drawn more to the plot of Persuasion. I love plots in which characters have the opportunity to redeem themselves and make the right choice, as Anne Elliot did at the end of the novel.
Since I’m a period drama addict and I really like Austen adaptations, I ‘d love to know if you like watching them, if you’ve got (a) favourite one/s.
I love Austen adaptations, and my favorite is the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice, but I must admit to having liked Clueless, a version of Emma, which was the first modern adaptation I’d ever seen
|Alicia Silverstone in Clueless - my review here
Now, Jennifer, that’s all for now. I'll wait for you on the 1st of September when you will present Charlotte Collins yourself to my readers on Fly High and we will reveal the name of the winner of a signed copy of your book! Till then, thanks and good luck!