IndieJane's Reviews > Charity Envieth Not

Charity Envieth Not by Barbara Cornthwaite
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Apr 09, 2012

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Read in March, 2012

When I first heard that Barbara Cornthwaite’s Emma-from-Knightley’s-POV was really two separate books, I was perplexed. I’ve read Amanda Grange’s Mr. Knightley’s Diary, and it was a quick, fast, one-book read — why was this one two? Then I started reading Charity Envieth Not, the first installment, and I quickly understood why we do indeed need two books to tell Knightley’s tale.

The general story is one any reader of Emma is familiar with, just told from Knightley’s point of view, so it’s less dialogue between Harriet and Emma, and more perceptions of their friendship, etc. I enjoyed getting to see Emma the way Knightley did, and to watch the events take place from such a different perspective. What sets Charity Envieth Not and Lend Me Leave apart from other books, like Mr. Knightley’s Diary, is that it’s not just a retelling of Emma that swaps the story to tell it from his angle, without really adding much new material. Instead, the George Knightley, Esquire books really delve into Knightley as a person and character, beyond his opinions expressed within the original text.

Not only does Cornthwaite let us see into Knightley’s mind and really get a good handle on exactly what he thinks of Frank Churchill and Mr. Elton, she lets us see into his world. The details and all the “backstory” that goes into making Mr. George Knightley that most beloved Knightley – it’s all here. Ever wonder what Knightley does when he’s not at Hartfield? Or what about the relationship between Knightley and his brother John (you know, Isabella’s husband)? Well, now you can find out. I loved getting to know Knightley better, getting to see his strength of character and learning what his role at Donwell entails. There’s a host of other characters too who are given flesh and blood, like Robert Martin, and Knightley’s interactions with these characters further strengthened my opinion of him and kept the story flowing. (I never realized how much “empty space” there was in the Emma-Knightley dynamic, but he was away from her a lot!)

If you’re a fan of Emma and Knightley already, you will definitely want to give these two a go — there are no unnerving character quirks that show up sometimes, you know, the ones that change a character subtly in ways that make them less hot? Er, likeable. Cornthwaite does a really good job of keeping all her characters authentic-feeling, and sounding. And if you’re not sure about the whole Knightley thing, then I’d suggest giving these a try. Let’s just say I fell in love with Mr. Knightley all over again.

3.5 out of 5 Stars
(review by guest reviewer Rebecca Fleming)
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03/13/2016 marked as: read

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