Genre: Historical Romance
Publication Date: 19th March 2020
Review Date: 12th February 2020
Charlotte Collins is the dutiful wife of Hunsford's vicar. Although it may not be perfect, her marriage allows her security, and so she patiently tolerates Mr Collins' awkward lectures and cares for their young daughter. But there's more to Charlotte than she'd have you think. Fiercely intelligent and pragmatic, Charlotte yearns for something more. When she meets Mr Travis, a local farmer, Charlotte starts to feel a spark of something she has never felt before. Could it be desire? Could it even be love? And will she listen to what her head is telling her or should she follow her heart?
The Clergyman’s Wife is a first-person linear narrative from the perspective of Charlotte Collins. Charlotte is the best friend of Elizabeth Bennett (now Elizabeth Darcy) from Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice; and is married to Rev William Collins – who is not only the cousin of Mr Bennett, but also the rejected suitor of Elizabeth. The author’s writing style is like a modern version of the ninetenth-century novel; not only with regards to Austin in relation to plot and wit, but the vivid description of landscape bears similarities to later nineteenth-century realist novels, in particular Hardy.
No longer is Charlotte married than she realises her new husband is a complete bore who is more interested in his prize vegetables and pleasing the pompous Lady Catherine (not at the same time, I hasten to add!) than he is in his own wife and baby daughter. In context, William isn’t a bad man, he is just typical of his generation and the author has characterised him well. If this were a contemporary novel, he would be considered a misogynistic bully when he admits he ‘married a woman who was neither too lively nor too handsome to make a suitable clergyman’s wife’; however, this isn’t directed as an insult to Charlotte, but as a compliment to himself in selecting ‘the right woman for the job’ as The Clergyman’s Wife. In contrast, Robbie Travis, the local farmer is happy to give Charlotte (and her daughter) his time and intention. The pair share joint interests (books) and it isn’t long before the unlikely pair develop an intense friendship, where illicit sexual chemistry sizzles beneath the surface.
Although it felt like something was missing from a plot perspective, this is a well-written narrative that is not only true to its historical era with regards to characterisation and setting, it is also a delightful light read that fans of Austin and contemporary fiction alike will relish.
About the Author
Molly Greeley was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where her addiction to books was spurred by her parents' floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. A graduate of Michigan State University, she began as an Education major, but switched to English and Creative Writing after deciding that gainful employment was not as important to her as being able to spend several years reading books and writing stories and calling it work.
She lives in Traverse City, Michigan with her husband and three children, and can often be found with her laptop at local coffee shops.
Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an Advance Review Copy of this book.
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