Historical · Romance

Miss Bingley Requests: A Pride and Prejudice Regency Variation by Judy McCrosky

Here is a fun re-telling of the Pride and Prejudice, unlike any of the stories I’ve read so far. The fact that we go through the story in Caroline Bingley’s perspective, is both original and a bit horrifying considering her role in the original novel. The best part is that Judy McCrosky kept the most of the original story with making any major changes to the plot, and that includes Caroline herself.

Presented by Jane Austen, Caroline is nasty, ignorant, arrogant, shallow, and vain. On a more positive note (yes, it’s possible even for her), she also determinate and confident in her values. We through the story in Caroline’s perspective entirely, with means some of the scenes in the original novel had to change so she could be included somehow. While in some scenes I found that her presence would be rather unlikely, in others, it actually makes sense. McCrosky was able to include Caroline in a way that doesn’t feel intrusive to the story. It flows perfectly almost from the beginning to the end.

Caroline is the product of her education and upbringing, she’s well aware that her social class allows her to act the way she does, especially with people she considers to be inferior. In her arrogance, she doesn’t fully listen to conversations, interpreting them and retaining only what she finds interesting. In her conversations with Mr Darcy, it’s clear she hears one thing and responds to something completely different. Also, she interprets Mr Darcy’s actions as interest for his part of marrying her, even though it’s clear for the reader he tries to discourage her advances at every turn. She lives in constant hope, and constant desire and almost need, for him to do so.

However, I feel McCrosky missed the target when it comes to the familiarity between the characters. Caroline’s arrogance and need to be close to Mr Darcy at all time would never extend to the lack of manners. Her interruption of his meetings and her attitude as mistress of the household would be highly unappropriated for a lady at the time, no manner the level of proximity between people. Also, the way the characters address each other is something that was simply not done at the time. The use of the first name is something personal and it happens only in more personal relationships, like when Darcy calls Elizabeth by her first name when she proposes the second time. Darcy would simply not call Caroline by her first name, nor Bingley address Mr Darcy as Fitzwilliam. I understand what the author tried to do, to bring out the familiarity between the two families. But it should have been done through the character’s actions, more than their speeches. The 19th century is known for being its unique mannerisms and those were always in the spotlight, especially among the bourgeoisie.

Overall, it was an interesting read. Hands down to McCrosky for re-telling the story of Pride and Prejudice through the eyes of the villain in a nice way and in a style of writing that matches the historical period and Austen’s style.

Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Accent Press and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.

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