Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Review of Caroline Bingley by Jakki Leatherberry

From the back jacket of Jennifer Becton's Caroline Bingley: "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... 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... Instead, she seeks an alternative route back into society in the form of Mr. William Charlton, heir to a barony… However, she must also contend with her vexing emotions regarding Mr. Patrick Rushton... When all that Caroline has ever dreamed of attaining… 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?"


Maybe it’s the English teacher in me, but I love finding literary elements in literature. Caroline Bingley is flowing with imagery, similes, static and dynamic characters and much more. Without giving too much away, I loved how certain events and conversations at the beginning of the novel foreshadowed what was to come. I found this kept me in anticipation for these scenes to play out. For instance, Caroline’s paid companion, Mrs. Pickersgill, has all of the manners of a genteel lady, yet she is a mere employee. Is there more to Rosemary Pickersgill than she is letting on? 

Upon arriving in Kendal, Caroline is soon faced with two suitors: Mr. Charlton, a future baron, and Mr. Rushton, confirmed fortune hunter.

There is one thing Becton does particularly well:  She writes an amazing hero, and I’m not talking about some Fabio wannabe. While Mr. Charlton has a title and some well-chosen words to recommend him, Mr. Rushton’s wit, perception, and manners make me wish I would meet a real-life Rushton (if I weren’t happily married, that is). The banter between Rushton and Caroline is well-written, and at times, the heat between the two is palpable. Caroline’s father once told her that her piano playing will win her a gentleman of great worth. Not having succeeded in winning Mr. Darcy’s affection, will her accomplishments be enough to win either gentleman?

As much as I love when authors portray Caroline as the unrepentant, heartless and cold “bad girl,” Becton makes her readers actually like and empathize with Caro. (It is shocking, I know, to feel anything but the desire to strangle the chit!) I enjoyed reading all of the new and conflicting emotions Caroline experiences. Though she struggles with her feelings and her position in society, feeling caught somewhere between polite society and the middling class, Caroline manages to keep the impudent and independent spirit Austen created.
Throughout the novel, Caroline is not only trying to find herself and to attain a position in one of society’s finest circles, but she also faces another difficult decision: does she marry for title and money, forgetting happiness just like the majority of her peers, while at the same time securing her place in society, does she take the chance and marry for love and forsake her dream of becoming a titled lady, or does she resign to her fate as a spinster? You will have to read Caroline Bingley to find out which Caro chooses, but I will leave you with the knowledge that, “Caroline Bingley was finally her own mistress” (p. 248).

Available on Amazon in paperback
Available on Amazon Kindle

Jennifer Becton is also the author of Charlotte Collins and the Southern mystery, Absolute Liability.


27 comments:

  1. Wow! Imagine my surprise to surf by Mary's blog today and find Jakki's review of Caroline here! I am so excited I can barely type.

    Excuse me while I jump up and down and then run to twitter!

    Thank you for the review. I am soooo glad you liked it!

    Jennifer

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  2. Great post Jakki! I can't wait to read this book! My copy of Caroline Bingley is waiting for me on my Kindle! Your review has made me move it to the top of my TBR pile!!:)

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  3. Kelli, thank you for buying Caroline. I really hope you enjoy it!

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  4. Jennifer, thank you for stopping by! I did enjoy it! Hope the review brings new readers! :)Oh, I just love Rushton!
    Are you planning on writing another one?
    Kelli, so nice of you to drop by. Yes, I would move it up; it is well worth the read! Let me know what you think of it when you finish! :)

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  5. Jakki, Great review!! I really enjoyed Caroline Bingley too! I was surprised to find myself actually liking her. My favorites were Mrs. Pickersgill and Mr. Rushton. I loved how Rushton didn't cut Caro much slack. I loved their banter!

    Jennifer, you did a great job on this book! :)

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  6. Great review! I really want to read this book. I can't imagine that I would ever like Caro, so I'm intrigued.

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  7. Thanks, Candy! Caroline turned out to be really fun to write. She didn't hold back. I liked her by the end of the process.

    Anna, thanks for your willingness to give Caroline a try. I hope you enjoy the book!

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  8. Mary & Jakki - I think you guys should do Austen 'Plot Point Awards.'. I know off the top of my head that Caroline would get the 'scene that best reflects the character's true self.' Mary gets the funniest line & the biggest kick in the gut awards. Anyone want to guess what those are?

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  9. I know the funniest line: Eleanor prying Antony's fingers off the bed post, but "biggest kick in the gut," not sure. Is it from Mr. Darcy's Bite? You have me curious.

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  10. Anna, thanks for stepping by! I really appreciate your comment! I never thought I would like Caro, let alone empathize with her, but Becton pulls it off! ;)

    Oh, how I do love Evil Elleanor prying Antony's fingers off the bedpost! :)
    I am stumped as to the biggest kick in the gut. Mary has so many good books!

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  11. Okay - if I suggest some favorites, everyone else has to, also.

    Funniest line goes to Mary Simonsen,and yes, to Eleanor and the bedpost. Second runner up goes to Abigail Reynolds short story, 'A Succession of Rain' for turning mashed potatoes into foreplay.

    The, 'Thank you, dear author, for actually getting the character, and not changing her' award goes to Jennifer Becton for Caroline Bingley and the final scene between Caro & Elizabeth. Second runner-up being Mary's Captain Wentworth after he was smacked upside the head and lost his internal filter.

    Best new character you could actually see yourself being friends with goes to Chloe Parker, written with a lot of wit and love. Thank you, Karen Doornebos!

    Best online fan fic story goes to Crossed in Love by Catie, found on Gioria Rec's fan review. All of the stories I have read in this canon missed one thing - Jane Bingley with a backbone. When Darcy comes to propose to Elizabeth, he finds a pissed-off (but proper) Jane in his place. She let's him have it for breaking up her in Bingley. Second best story I read was Jack Caldwell's 'Darcy's coming to Dinner.' Talk about a story that goes roaring out of the gate. He backs off more into sentimentality at the end, but that is okay. You have to be committed to extend that humor through the end of a story. Ask Monty Python, Airplane! and Anne Elliott becoming a marathon runner and sleuth in Mary's story. On a side note, look for a fanfic story in Gioria Rec's blog about an alternate universe for Harry Potter, in which Snape doesn't die, but becomes trapped in the library's version of 'Pride and Prejudice.' Only, of course, to be found by Hermione...

    Gee - I could really go on & on, but I'll end with two.

    Kick in the Gut award goes to Mary when I realized that Elizabeth had a son who died. That came out of nowhere for me. I literally took the book, bent over, and placed it on my head to catch my breath, and to decide if I even wanted to finish it. I cannot do dead children, holocaust stories, or zombies. It was the broken people of Pemberly that most haunted me. Cried through the whole last half of the book. Loved it. Not sure that I'll ever read it again.

    Speaking of Zombies, I got tricked into reading what was my absolute favorite book of last year. 'Warm Bodies' by Isaac Marion. This was the most original love story I have ever read. Even before that, his descriptions of going up and down escalators in the airport seeing zombies try and maintain what little humanity they had left by teaching zombie children. Poetry. It was also discovered on a fanfic site, and the movie gets released this august.

    Keep writing, my friends!!!!

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    1. The "not changing the character award" means a lot to me. I spent a lot of time thinking about Caro and how she behaved in P&P. I don't believe Austen wrote flat-out evil characters who were just out to cause trouble. Most of her antagonists had motives that made sense, and once I put myself in the time period with all its restrictions and mores, I could see why Caro was the way she was.

      But I digress. I am glad I seem to have achieved my goal, which was to keep the character the same but give her a better future...and just a little bit of a kick in the pants.

      J

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  12. Great review! I have this book too and anticipate reading about Caroline as a heroine. I am so glad to hear that her personality does not undergo an overhaul to achieve it as that is what I think of as the intriguing aspect of a book about her.

    Thanks for posting!

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    1. I hope you feel the same as Angie and Jakki, Sophia Rose. I worked hard to delve into Caroline and not rewrite her personality. Let me know what you think!

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  13. Angie, I should have known about the kick in the gut one, you told me about that. I will blame it on the kids sucking all of my memory! ;) You did pick some great awards! I did like how Jane had a backbone in Crossed in Love. I will have to ponder some more awards and come back later!
    Sophia Rose, thanks for the comment. I hope you enjoy the book! Becton truly did capture Caro's personality.

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  14. There were two scenes that never changed content in the book. The first was the scene between Elizabeth and Caroline at the end. And the second was the scene in the carriage on the way to Kendal where Caroline kicks Rosemary (a mere nudge of the slipper) to wake her up. I wanted to establish right away that Caroline was not going to be altered in this book. She was still a real pill.

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  15. Angie, I have one for you. My favorite modern portrayal of Darcy from last year is a tie between Darcy in My BFF by Ruth Phillips Oakland and Rocker Darcy from Heather Rigaud's FDRS!

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  16. Lovely review, Jakki! Your descriptiona of Caroline, Mr. Charlton, and Mr. Rushton make me want to buy Jennifer Becton's book immediately and start reading it.

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    1. I hope you enjoy the book. Caro has a special place in my heart, even though she's a bit of a witch. :)

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    2. Well, now - she would have to be a bit of a witch, wouldn't she, or else she would not be Caroline!

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  17. Gee, thanks, Robin! It means a lot to have an author tell me I wrote a good review! :)
    You should read it, like you, Becton does create one wonderful hero! (Although, who can truly compete with your Darcy?) ;)

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    1. No one can compete with Darcy! LOL He's a model hero. :)

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    2. I just love a sigh-worthy hero. I wrote chapter 6 of Legacy today, and it was nearly all dialogue. Such a lovely, lovely man! And he says all the right things. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all men were written by women?

      You write very well, Jakki. When will we be favored with a book by you?

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    3. What a tease, telling me you wrote chapter 6 and that it was all dialogue! Yes, he is such a lovely man and I cannot wait for Legacy!
      Thanks for the compliment, Robin. It truly means a lot. As for now, I have no desire to write. Who knows, maybe when I am in my golden years I might learn the art of storytelling and come up with a wonderful idea for a novel. ;)

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  18. Ps. I excerpted from this on my blog.

    I appreciate the review, Jakki and Mary!

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    1. Wow, Jennifer!! I am quite honored that you posted an excerpt from this on your blog! I read what you chose, and yes, you do write one fine hero!
      BTW, I hear that Vincent crowd is getting rowdier everyday! ;)

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  19. Jennifer, It appears that you have another hit on your hands. Congratulations!

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