I’m a serious sucker for anything Pride and Prejudice and this novel’s premise, following Charlotte after the death of the dreadful Mr. Collins, intrigued me. Becton created a likeable continuation of Charlotte and recreated the pride and prejudice theme of mistaken first impressions and their near-ruinous consequences. Charlotte reenters the society of Westerham in order to chaperone her younger sister, Maria Lucas, in hopes of finding her a husband. Charlotte’s pragmatic view of marriage was challenged by Elizabeth Bennett’s love marriage to Mr. Darcy, and she now hopes for that love for her sister, Maria. After Charlotte sheds her widow’s weeds, she is surprised at the attention of some of the men in Westerham society and slowly begins to consider a chance at love for herself. An American, Mr. Basford, chaperoning his young nephew, Mr. Westerfield, provides Charlotte’s Mr. Darcy. Unlike Darcy, however, Basford is too loose, nearly uncouth for provincial Westerham. Events reveal, however, that those who seemed true gentlemen were scoundrels and those who seemed ungentlemanly were the true gems.
Overall, Charlotte Collins is one of the better P&P sequels I have read. It’s not a brain bender, but a fun dive back into the world of provincial Austen society for those seeking such an escape.