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A good short. Waiting for this author's own work....
on March 23, 2011
Austen scarcely mentions Maria Lucas in Pride & Prejudice. She's a foil to her much wiser older sister, Charlotte. Charlotte is a foil to Elizabeth Bennet. Jane Austen's characters were often painted in some detail, with that image deftly sharpened by contrasting them with other characters, sketched more lightly with much less color. Austen's works still seem modern, contrasting sharply with the much longer more florid descriptions and moralizings of fiction of her day. Austen's genius was in her economy, illustrating characters by their words, actions and reactions.
But she leaves many readers wanting to know more about these characters. This conveniently makes room for present-day writers to supply such information in a whole fiction sub-genre, continuations of Austen's works, most especially Pride & Prejudice. Many extoll Austen's spare prose and sharp story telling, then attempt to 'improve' on it by continuing her stories. Coincidentally this provides occupation and subject matter for Austen fans who would be authors. It's also a market for reworking masters or doctoral theses, turning scholarly research into salable popular fiction. It's one great way to try to repay college loans. Taxpayers everywhere salute you!
Jennifer Becton's book, Charlotte Collins: A Continuation, etc., was her first publication, explaining what happened to Charlotte. This short story continues that continuation, explaining what happened to Maria Lucas. Maria was such a minor character in Austen's work, there's not much to build on. Ms. Becton played it safe, spinning a short, well-written story in the life of Maria, laying out that character's problem and its resolution in a half dozen pages or so. It's well worth the price, and good practice for her own tale, whenever Becton finishes writing it. Of course, I'm hoping it's a regency!