Lucas by Elna Holst

I was super excited with Elna Holst reached out to me with news of this book’s publication and the offer to read a copy.

“I am sick of interposing these superfluous men between us.”

Lucas is a book I never knew I needed, but now that I’ve read it, I’ll never look at Pride and Prejudice the same way again, in the best kind of way.

Largely to save her friend from a loveless marriage to a boring man, Charlotte Lucas married William Collins in 1813. In this story, after a stillborn birth and a pretty joyless life as a rector’s wife, Miss Ailsa Reid shows up and changes her entire life. Charlotte has always held a peculiar preference, one that Ailsa brings to the surface, but it’s the early 1800s, and what chance do two women have to find happiness? This revisionist fiction dares to explore the untold queer story of one of the most important friends in Austen history.

For the past two(ish) weeks, all I’ve wanted to do is sit down and read this book, and I’ve stolen a few letters here and there at the end of each long day, but this morning, I finally had a solid hour and a half to sit down and finish it. I was on the edge of my seat for a good 50% of the book. Well versed in not only queer literature, but film, television, and culture, I know the odds of a happy ending for most lesbians, much less those in historical fiction, but I had faith that perhaps Charlotte “Lucas” and Ailsa might find some way to be together.

I love re-tellings and revisionist fiction, particularly when it involves queer characters, and Holst, I felt, stayed true to the original story and characters while giving me more incentive to care about them. Let’s be honest, all you have to do is tell me there are lesbians, and I’m all in, but I loved the life that Holst gave to Charlotte. Dear, sweet Charlotte who only wanted a comfortable home and was more than willing to sacrifice a chance at happiness so that Lizzie need not live a life of misery.

Nine Star Press never fails to deliver for me, and this latest publication is no different. If you’re an Austen fan and need something to hold your interest in these weird ass times that make it hard to concentrate, you’ll enjoy a quick escape back into the world of Austen with new perspectives.

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