Coincidentally Speaking — 20 Comments

  1. Interesting post! It’s a really good point that the world of P&P was a smaller population than today, where such coincidences would seem more unbelievable. I think the biggest coincidence in P&P is Wickham being the same cad that hurt Georgiana, and then runs off with Lydia. Given the fact that he could have joined any militia, and Lydia was so undiscriminating that she could have been tempted by anyone in uniform, it is really a coincidence that the same scoundrel was at the bottom of both situations. I know I have read books where the coincidences seemed improbable — I think of stories in which a particular character just happens to have all the right heroic qualities to get out of any sticky situation.

    • We do accept a degree of coincidences in books, as we all have our share in life. Some can really make life interesting!

  2. Somehow I would think that, in their smaller population and size of England, that such coincidences might be more likely than less so. With fewer people and fewer square square miles, does that make any sense? However I really never thought very hard before about all the many coincidences in P&P and other Austen books. Very interesting!!

    Also, Maria, I am so glad you mentioned your book coming out, as I immediately pre-ordered it!! Thank you so much– so excited!!

    • Glad you’re looking forward to my new book – I just hope you don’t mind that it’s me (Kara Louise) and not Maria. 🙂

      I agree that size and population add to the probability, but we have encounters with people in our large world. We were visiting Jamestown Colony in Virginia and ran into a couple we knew from Kansas. We were at the same spot at the same time. That always amazes me.

      • Sorry– I had just finished the latest chapter of her current wip about Lydia, so guess I didn’t switch gears as well as I thought. But I did preorder your new book! Thank you for your patience.

  3. The Wickham thing, Georgiana, Wickham, Lydia, never struck me as a coincidence but as contrived by Wickham to get to Darcy money. Once the militia was stationed in Meryton (a coincidence), it is in Wickham’s character to 1) notice Darcy’s attraction to Elizabeth, and, 2) seek to profit in some way, if possible.

    • I agree that the Wickham/Lydia thing could be comparable to what I mentioned about Lucy Steele marrying Robert Ferrars. They both were very much orchestrated by a manipulative person, so not so much a coincidence, which is something rather that happens by chance.

  4. Thanks for mentioning your new book is available on pre-order. I’m signed up for the Kindle edition on amazon and am looking forward to it!

  5. The “coincidences” never bother me in books. I think because I’m used to encountering them in real life, it really doesn’t draw my attention. I’ve gone to another state to visit a friend and find out that someone from home is visiting their cousin next door. Seriously. I’ve also gone to a conference in another state and found out through conversation with a table mate at the icebreaker that I knew (and had dated) her ex-husband. Yeah, coincidences don’t bother me. LOL

    • Those kind of coincidences can be fun, Stephanie, when you find things out strictly in conversation! 🙂

  6. I agree, Stephanie, I always say, “It’s a small world.”…even in this day and age. I don’t even attempt to keep track of all the “coincidences” I have experienced over my lifetime. They just seem meant to happen. But I do agree that Wickham was very sly and observed and used the circumstances around him to manipulate events. After all in throwing away a living with the church he then had to live by his wits. I am sure he used those to prey on many young girls, to draw the inexperienced of his comrades into card games and to gain credit from merchants…just to mention a few. I always hated the blackmail he gained from Darcy through Lydia. I like JAFF books which have him deported or even worse (in war or as a result of a fight with Col. Fitzwilliam) – bloodthirsty thing that I am…LOL!

      • You are correct. I do not like Wickham…I had to have my arm twisted to read the book in which Lizzy becomes secretly engaged to him. Then I read a sample in which she sleeps with him on the way to Gretna Green – slapped that book shut and refused to buy it! You can not redeem in my eyes someone who seduces shopkeepers’ daughters or preys on a stupid girl such as Lydia!

  7. Coincidences in stories have never bothered me. I agree, though,that with a smaller population these ‘coincidences’ had a better chance of happening. Another coincidence in P&P is the Gardiners cutting their trip short and going to the Peak District and staying in Lambton instead of going to the Lake District; Mrs. Gardner being from Lambton; Darcy showing up at the inn right after Lizzie finished the letters from Jane…

    I had an interesting set of coincidences happen when I was 13. I visited my family in Germany for the summer and made friends with 2 girls in the town my grandparents lived in. Both girl’s fathers were my mother’s friends. When my grandfather died, I found out that one of my friends was actually the great-great niece of my grandfather’s sister, so she was actually related to me. Another coincidence during that summer …I was walking with one of my in another area of Germany from his mom’s house to my great great aunt’s house (I was staying there) when a few of his ‘friends’ were teasing him about my being his girl friend. He told me to wait where I was and he spoke to them. I went to another aunt’s house in the same town to meet more family at a BBQ and these same kids were there. The shock on their faces that I was their cousin was priceless. I smiled, was asked what was so humorous and told the story….Thanks for bringing back wonderful memories.

    • I think coincidences in real life are things that make it fun and memorable! We tend not to forget them!

  8. A good friend of ours is an author and has written an entire novel called The Coincidence Authority about this very subject (published in the US as just Coincidence I think) so there’s plenty of mileage to be had from this particular phenomenen. Colin Odom’s novel Consequences had the lack of a coicindence (Darcy and Elizabeth meeting at Pemberly) as a major plot point in the first part of his two part novel (high angst, tissues needed, if you haven’t read it). When you consider all of the coincidences in Jane Austen’ works, not just P & P, it gives plenty of fertile ground for our lovely JAFF authors to sow their tales in, doesn’t it?

  9. Yes, that’s very true, Anji! Just remove one of those coincidences, and you have to figure out how things might work out differently! And that sounds like an interesting book!

  10. The way that I look at it, I am reading a story, and the coincidences are necessary to the plot or progression of that story.

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