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The Cajun Cheesehead Chronicles [part 2 of 2] by Jack Caldwell — 14 Comments

  1. It is really dangerous to be drinking a cup of coffee while reading these interviews. That aside, in Pride and Prejudice Caroline’s status is not equal to Darcy despite her wealth. Elizabeth, despite her lack of money is a gentleman’s daughter which places her above Caroline. I agree that later, when many of the estates are running out of money, Caroline would’ve had a good chance at getting someone of Darcy’s status or a peer because they would need the money. I also agree that Darcy would have other investments….steam engine, perhaps even in the import business, such as the Gardiner’s trade company. Thanks for another fun post.

    • You are absolutely right, Deborah. Caroline’s big set-down in THE COMPANION OF HIS FUTURE LIFE is that exact point. Still, it is possible that in the mid-19th Century, a Mr. Bingley would have received a knighthood due to his success in business. Caroline was born before her time.

  2. My issue with Caroline is that, despite what she would like you to believe, she was crass and shrewish.Her treatment of others she either perceived to be below her in status, or worse, a threat, illustrated it. Frankly, she reminded me of a schoolgirl and how they act among themselves.

    Think about it, She was from trade and not native to the sphere to which she aspired. She did not drink in all the subtle nuances of the first circles with her mother’s milk. She was raised by a mother who was ambitious but also clueless. Th solution was to send her to a finishing school With those of the first circles, where she was below them in status and she simply did not belong. I think her parents were unknowingly cruel in this move.

    I am certain, that like schools everywhere, then and now, cliques were formed, outsiders derided and excluded, treated as Caroline thought was the correct manner to treat the Bennets. What she never realized was that the manner in which she was treated, the comments she was forced to bear, were SCHOOLROOM behaviors, and would not be used or tolerated outside of that closed society. She believed she had acquired the correct way to interact with society based on how she was treated, because I am certain this daughter of trade was NOT treated well. The hauteur and supercilious attitude was learned there.

    Jane does not illustrated for us how the Bingley sisters were actually received by the tonne, only how they perceived their status. If her reception had been what she thought it should be, she might not have been so desperate for Darcy’s status. Elizabeth’s response to her poor behavior was gracious and witty, however seething she may have felt inside. Witness how much it took for her to abandon civility when she responded to Darcy’s very uncivil proposal.

    So, no, even though her training was flawed, she chose to emulate the worst of what she was exposed to and treated with. There is no excuse for that. For the P & P Caroline Bingley,, and to some extent her sister, although we are told next to nothing about her, I find she is a character with an ego and an agenda (Darcy’s status and money) that has become too inflated by her self-interest and nasty personality, however it was learned. After all, ultimately, we are responsible for our own behavior and hers was deplorable.

    • Much of what you describe is correct. Obviously, this social-climbing was occurring during Regency times, or Austen would have not created a Caroline Bingley. However, I cannot call her deplorable. Was she nasty? Yes, but so was Elizabeth, to a certain extent. Besides, Caroline’s major crimes were against Jane, not Elizabeth.

      As an American, I understand Caroline’s motives. We are all social-climbers here. We (supposedly) celebrate those who rise from the sphere in which they had been brought up. However, I don’t approve of Caroline’s methods.

      When Austen created such despicable characters as Fanny Dashwood, Mrs. Ferrars, Lucy Steele, Lady Susan, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mrs. Norris, and Mary Crawford, Caroline Bingley in comparison fades into the woodwork. That’s why I think she is redeemable.

      Thanks for reading and posting such a thoughtful response.

  3. I’m still hung up on waiting for the sequel to Three Cols. Truly one of my favorites! I enjoy minor characters and their stories so I always like to see Caro get her own life and leave others to theirs.

    • ROSINGS PARK is coming along rather slowly. Caro and Sir John are major characters, as are Anne and Sir Richard, and Elizabeth and Darcy. That’s right — all six of them are in Kent, and so is Lady Cat! Let the sparks fly!

  4. I like the suggestion that Caroline was before her time and might have had some redeeming qualities overall. Or, that she might have been motivated by tragedies in her life (like in Pemberley Ranch). I think that as a “modern” reader, it’s taken me a while to understand how rigid the class structure seemed in P&P, and how socially inferior the Bingleys were, compared to the landed gentry of the Darcy and Bennet families. Caroline was disparaged because of her pretentiousness, which I feel seems to have as much to do with her reaching beyond her social status, as her innate rude-ness in how she treats everyone. From what you’ve pointed out in this post, maybe that’s why she is sometimes portrayed as over-the-top mean, deranged, or cruel, because in today’s society we’re less likely to dislike her just because of her social status.

    • Or some writers are reliving their high school years.

      In my THREE COLONELS universe, Caroline herself realizes the mistakes she has made and tries to make amends. However, she has not exorcised her “inner witch,” which makes her interesting.

      In PEMBERLEY RANCH, the brutal hardships she endured, coupled with her obnoxious personality, makes her damaged beyond repair.

      I have fun with her in MR. DARCY CAME TO DINNER.

      If you want to read about a damaged and redeemed Caroline, read CRESCENT CITY. It will blow your mind.

  5. I KNEW you had ‘a thing’ for Miss Bingley….you’ve given her some great parts in your books.

    This is the first time I’d read the first interview in addition to this new one, both so clever and funny. I can’t wait to hear about the sequel to Three Colonels. I’ve read ‘Mr Darcy Comes to Dinner’ at least twice and I think it’s time to read it again. I am going to sound like a broken record and gush about ‘The Plains of Chalmette,’ too.

    The biggest praise I can give for your writing is that you made me love a modern romance. The Crescent City trilogy is amazing, and the characters wouldn’t leave my mind for weeks after I’d read all three in a very short time period. I REALLY didn’t want to read a modern retelling of P&P, just not my thing. I REALLY did not want to relive hurricane Katrina, or Rita for that matter. (My son’s friends were nearly in the same situation as one of your couples getting married the weekend hurricane Rita hit the coast and threw Houston into a panic. My son was there to take photos of his best friends’ wedding and ended up being the best man.) I couldn’t put the books down once I got past the initial jarring of stepping into a modern world. And yes, I loved Caroline’s part in the CCT. You got ‘a THING’ for the Golden Girls too. 😉

    Every time I read a book of yours, Mr Caldwell, I wonder what it was that made you decide to enter the Jane genre. Whatever it was, I also thank my lucky stars that you did. Because you are one of the best of the best. The research you do is quite evident and I love that part too!

    Okay, I’m done gushing….for now. I turned into a JC fan-girl several books ago, so I don’t even feel embarrassed begging for another story very soon. Puh–leeeeze?

  6. After this I will go back and read The First Interviews. This was enjoyable. Caro should read or views the movie, Mean Girls, as I am sure there were cliques in her day as I am sure there were and are through the ages. I MUST read your modern trilogy. I know the one “rape” incident put me off but you had some reassuring words about that. I have the books on my kindle so I have no excuse not to read them. I have enjoyed all your books; the most recent being the Scarlet Pimpernel last adventure one, which prompted me to go back and read the original and view the movie. And then I had to buy all the books by the original author although I have not yet read those. Too many books on my TBR pile. I realize, again, how old this blog is but I am playing catch-up.

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