The Clergyman’s Wife: A Pride & Prejudice Novel

Written by Molly Greeley
Review by Susan Higginbotham

Three years after her pragmatic marriage to the Rev. Mr. Collins, the former Charlotte Lucas is settled at the parsonage at Hunsford, managing her household, tending her garden, caring for her young daughter, and, accompanied by the still-obsequious Mr. Collins, drinking endless cups of tea with the overbearing Lady Catherine de Bourgh. When her ladyship ordains that the parsonage should have some roses, however, Charlotte becomes acquainted with the young farmer who comes to plant them, a meeting which causes her to question some of her choices in life.

While some recent Pride and Prejudice spinoffs have taken Jane Austen’s creations in some rather startling directions—the iterations which turn the mousy, pedantic Mary Bennet into a femme fatale come to mind—The Clergyman’s Wife isn’t one of them. Greeley, who makes her debut as a novelist with this book, stays true to Jane Austen’s characters, while allowing them to develop in their own right. Although the Darcys and the Bennets make their obligatory appearances, they don’t dominate the novel; this is very much Charlotte’s story.

Subtle rather than sparkling, as befits its heroine, The Clergyman’s Wife is an understated novel with a quiet, almost melancholy quality about it that I found very appealing. I look forward to future books by this author.