by Sharon Lathan
Moms must be on the brain these days. I know that I have been thinking constantly about mine. Primarily that is because she has been so ill lately, prompting our entire family to travel from far away reaches of the US to converge on where she lives. The spontaneous family reunion was wonderful for many reason, but mostly because it focused on my mom.
I could write an entire book on my mother. Almost all of it good! Seriously, she is a wonderful person who has been a guiding force in my life. She is a good woman who often single-handedly raised us kids, has always shown us love and support no matter what we do, displays strength and humor through the trials of life, and is immeasurably proud of her family. Yet my mom and I are very different in many of our beliefs. We have journeyed down dissimilar pathways. And I do not always agree with her. But these trivialities do not matter. Or rather, the fact that we are unalike in many respects augments my love and appreciation for her.
You see, I have learned by watching some of the mistakes she made and did not make the same ones. I know the numerous positive traits she possesses and the hundreds of correct decisions she made, and then applied them to my life. But I think most of all I have seen how my mom, and my entire family, embraces our diversity. We love unconditionally and with great passion. And the best part is that it comes naturally to all of us through my mom.
Perhaps it is this acceptance and understanding of my mom with all her quirks and shortcomings amid the love that gave me compassion for Mrs. Bennet. In Jane Austen’s novel, Mrs. Bennet is the flighty, ridiculous, rather irritating mother of Lizzy Bennet. Man, is she fun! Literary essays have been written and wild debates launched about this one character with dozens of takes on her motivations. The BBC adaptation went for the over-the-top Mrs. Bennet that was borderline shrewish and absolutely unhinged. The comic Mrs. Bennet. Joe Wright’s 2005 movie went for a silly Mrs. Bennet as well, but one who was cunning and loving in her single-minded concentrate to get her daughters married. I like that Mrs. Bennet. Partly that may be due to Brenda Blethyn’s portrayal, I will admit. But when I did my own research and reading, I really felt sorry for Mrs. Bennet. The sheer magnitude of successfully marrying five girls of very limited dowry in an age when being hitched to a man was the ONLY way to survive, while also living with the reality that her own husband could soon die leaving her utterly destitute would naturally crack a woman! To top it off, she had to manage a household and the very important task of finding mates while dealing with a husband who was disinterested, unhelpful, and frankly incompetent. Don’t get me wrong, I like Mr. Bennet too and have my sympathies for him, but he definitely had his problems!
In Loving Mr. Darcy: Journeys Beyond Pemberley, all of the Bennets make an appearance. Of course Mrs. Bennet was fun to write! I kept her silly and obsessed with marrying the remaining Bennet daughters, but did nothing mean to her character. Maybe I just love moms too much to be cruel. LOL! Or maybe I have historic sympathy for her plight. And certainly there are many more characters in Austen’s novel, as well as those I created, to center my attention and storyline on. Whatever the case, Mrs. Bennet is given some latitude. Here is a small excerpt to enjoy from my second volume in The Darcy Saga – release date September 1!! When you are done reading, tell me about your favorite mom characters.
“Dr. Darcy, pardon me, but what did you mean by Dr. Penaflor raised with courtly manners?” Mrs. Bennet asked, a keen glint in her eyes.
“Raul Penaflor, Mrs. Bennet, is the third son of a Spanish Duke and his mother is one of many royal sisters to King Ferdinand. It is all rather a jumble of intermarriage intrigue that exhausts me, frankly.”
Mrs. Bennet’s eyes had opened widely and she was peering at Kitty and Dr. Penaflor as they completed their dance with unveiled calculation. Lizzy coughed a laugh, turning slightly to hide her face into Darcy’s sleeve as Mrs. Bennet continued. “How very interesting! Has he a grand inheritance then? Or perhaps a family income?”
Dr. Darcy smiled innocently at Mrs. Bennet. “They have not disowned him, Mrs. Bennet, if that information profits you. Raja, however, is apathetic regarding his lineage and rank. I tease and call him ‘raja,’ which is prince in Hindi, yet he is indifferent. Healing is all that truly matters to him.”
Mrs. Bennet was obviously saddened at the news and chose to ignore Dr. Penaflor thereafter.