Book Review: Charlotte by Helen Moffett

Charlotte is a picture of domesticity. The bulk of the book is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice from Charlotte’s perspective but it takes us a while to get there. From Charlotte’s view we hear that “Mrs Bennet would be in danger of expiring with joy” when considering Mr Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth. This is the best of the book, the new storyline isn’t as enchanting.

Charlotte maintains her sense, for at least some of the novel, and she observes that “Mr Darcy spoke too little, and Mr Collins too much.” It’s amusing to see how Mr Darcy’s visiting Elizabeth at Hunsford threw the peaceful household into “minor storms of domestic havoc.”

There are echoes of Emma as Charlotte realises that “it was poverty only that made celibacy contemptible in the eyes of the public,” something her new friend Anne de Bourgh as a wealthy woman will never have to worry about. As so often happens in adaptations Anne emerges as an entirely different character with a backbone.

It is comforting to see Charlotte really find her place in her marriage. She was “safe, appreciated and occupied” and that “while her husband did not often speak sense, he always spoke kindly” although she did sometimes suffer “a tax of mortification” for his words.

This story is really a continuation of Pride and Prejudice allowing us to see how Charlotte and Elizabeth cope with married life. It veers strongly from the characters in the original when it comes to Anne and later Charlotte, which feels like such a shame after getting to really appreciate her.