“Women could indeed be strong.” –Georgiana Darcy in Laraba Kendig’s I Am Jael: A Pride and Prejudice Variation
Both of these Pride and Prejudice variations, I Am Jael and An Unlikely Missionary, give us women who find strength from God in difficult situations.
I am Jael, by Laraba Kendig
Many writers of Austen variations focus on George Wickham. Either they give him the punishment he deserves, or give him a chance for redemption. In I am Jael, Georgiana Darcy decides that her reputation is less important than preventing Wickham from damaging other women.
Georgiana is inspired by a story from the Bible. In Judges chapter 4, a woman named Jael kills the commander of an enemy army by driving a tent peg through his head while he sleeps. (His nation had been oppressing hers.) Clearly Jael was a brave, strong, and independent woman!
Georgiana, tired of being protected by her loving brother and cousin, tells herself “I am Jael,” and goes to Meryton to destroy Wickham’s reputation so that he cannot do more damage. Her actions, of course, also affect Darcy and Elizabeth’s story.
Georgiana’s courage then inspires Anne de Bourgh to leave her overprotective mother and grow into a new life.
The story of King David’s son Absalom also comes into the novel. Absalom led a rebellion against his own father. Lydia is surprised by that violent story also, saying “I had no idea that the Bible could be so interesting!”
As in Austen’s novels, church and prayer also play parts in this story.
I am Jael is well-written. The characters are well-drawn and consistent with the characters in Pride and Prejudice. The story has plenty of twists and turns, and kept me reading even into the night. I think you’ll enjoy it! (Available on kindle unlimited.)
I just finished another excellent book by Laraba Kendig: The Blind Will See. A musket blows up in Wickham’s face and he is blind for a time, and disfigured permanently. This accident leads to a cascade of changes. Wickham himself is deeply changed, as Mary Bennet reads Robinson Crusoe to him: a book with many spiritual implications. I think you may enjoy the many surprises in The Blind Will See.
By the way, I was interested to learn that Laraba Kendig, like myself, studied engineering because she loved chemistry and math. Later, like myself, she focused on her family for a time and ended up writing. I wonder if she and I would be kindred spirits! 🙂
An Unlikely Missionary by Skylar Hamilton Burriss
An Unlikely Missionary, Skylar Hamilton Burriss’s sequel to Pride and Prejudice, is about Charlotte Collins. The premise, which I must admit is highly unlikely, is that Lady Catherine has decided to fund a missionary band returning to India, with the requirement that the Collinses be taken, quite unwillingly, as part of the group. They leave their young baby behind with Charlotte’s parents.
Once they are on their way, however, the story gets very interesting. The little interdenominational group are working in a village where the headman has committed murder and then been converted. He, and the man that he deeply wronged, must seek forgiveness and healing. The missionaries struggle with finding meaning and trusting God in deep suffering.
Charlotte initially judges the missionary leader harshly, but learns that he has suffered great losses and endured, and that he is a man of mercy. (The leader’s name is Rivers, by the way, and he has a son named John; perhaps a nod to St. John Rivers in Jane Eyre, who was on his way to the mission field?)
After some initial resistance, Mr. Collins and Charlotte adapt to local dress and customs. Charlotte recognizes that many of the English conventions she has to set aside are no better than some of the Indian customs she is struggling to understand.
The mission seeks to meet physical as well as spiritual needs, through a hospital and school. Charlotte makes herself useful at the school, discovering that she has a passion and gift for teaching children. As you might expect, Charlotte turns out to be a strong, intelligent, helpful member of the team. When something happens to her husband, her life changes completely.
I won’t give the rest away. The story is well-written, characters are realistic and interesting, and I enjoyed this very different development in Charlotte Collins’s life! This one will also keep you reading.
Jane Austen’s time was the beginning of “modern missions,” with William Carey and others’ pioneering work in India. In An Unlikely Missionary, Burriss gives us an intriguing fictional look at what that might have been like. (Available on kindle unlimited.)
Many Jane Austen heroines are women of strength and independence. Charlotte Lucas and Elizabeth Bennet both make hard choices. Where in your life do you need the strength to do what is right, regardless of the cost? May God give you that strength.
When I started this series of reviews, I didn’t even know that there were Jane Austen variations with strong Christian themes, and now I have reviewed Christian Austen variations by a dozen different authors! I hope you have been enjoying their delightful new perspectives. We can never get enough of Jane Austen.
Earlier Posts on Jane Austen Variations
Christian Jane Austen Variations 1: Maria Grace, Robin Helm
Christian Jane Austen Variations 2: Jeanna Ellsworth, Kelsey Bryant, Janine Mendenhall
Christian Jane Austen Variations 3: Pamela Aidan
Christian Jane Austen Variations 4: Laura Hile
Christian Jane Austen Variations 5: Robin Helm, and A Very Austen Valentine
Christian Jane Austen Variations 6: Barbara Cornthwaite and Lara S. Ormiston
Christian Jane Austen Variations 7: Happy Endings for Charlotte Lucas by Laura Hile and Amanda Kai
Soniah Kamal’s Unmarriageable: Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan
Austen Variations with Science 1: Collins Hemingway, Robin Helm, Georgette Heyer
Austen Variations with Science 2: Abigail Reynolds, and A Very Austen Christmas
Science Variations 3: Novels with Regency and Victorian Science (Linda Banche, Cindy Anstey, Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, Nicole Clarkston)