My Dear Mr. Collins, One Author’s Journey, Part 2

My Dear Mr. Collins, One Author’s Journey, Part 2

[Warning: If you have not yet read Master of Longbourn, this article will contain spoilers. Therefore, read at your own risk.]

“I am not Captain Saunders,” Collins replied. “Now, shall we proceed to the study?”

“I do not have the pleasure of understanding your meaning,” Darcy said, not moving from his relaxed position.

Collins walked first to the dressing table, then the window. Admitting his failure to himself last evening had been challenging. Admitting it to his friends, whom he admired greatly, was nearly impossible. It was not that he was necessarily a proud creature, but he was a man. And like any man whom he knew, he did not like to be found wanting. He shook his head. How many times had he been told he was wanting? Far too many to recall the exact number. He should find it much easier than he did, given all that practice.

“Saunders applied to Mr. Bennet for permission to present a courtship to Miss Kitty.”

“I still do not see how that means you must forego the waistcoat with red in it,” grumbled Bingley.

“A red coat, not a red waistcoat, would serve me better,” Collins retorted.

“An offer does not mean an acceptance,” Darcy inserted. “Elizabeth did not accept me the first time I presented my request.”

“Precisely!” Bingley said, waving his hand toward Darcy. “Have you told Miss Kitty that you admire her?”

Collins swallowed. “That was not part of my instruction.”

He looked anywhere but at Bingley or Darcy. He had never stood in opposition to any of his instructors — ever — in all of his life. He had never even attempted to oppose his father. He had been as accommodating as possible, even taking responsibility for failures that were not his own.

“It is now.” Bingley stood directly before him with the red waistcoat in his hand. “Tell her you admire her or wear this, and do not go to Hunsford. Fight for her, man!”

Collins stared at the red waistcoat, then shook his head. “I do not know how to fight.” His words were barely above a whisper.

[Master of Longbourn, Chapter 11]

Last month, when I ended my post, I told you there was a statement in Master of Longbourn which I wished to talk about this month. That statement is the one highlighted in the above excerpt. 

In Master of Longbourn, there are two journeys on which I take Mr. Collins. One is the outward journey that Mr. Collins takes and is what the other characters in the story see. This is him fitting in and falling in love. The second is the inner journey which the reader sees through Collins’s thoughts and the other characters get glimpses of through comments that he makes. This is him overcoming what his father has told him he is and will be.

As I progressed with Mr. Collins on this inner journey from what he saw himself as to what he wished to be, the sentence I highlighted in the excerpt, “I do not know how to fight,” caused me to pause. It didn’t seem right. I deleted it and tried again, but Mr. Collins’s reply was the same. I tried convincing him that he should change his response three times, but he refused. And then, as I considered where we had started and where we were going and what was happening with Bingley standing there holding out the bothersome red waistcoat, a light went off and the response made sense.

Mr. Collins had a horrible father.  He was “an unpleasant, angry man.” Those are the word used by Collins to describe his father just after this exchange with Kitty:

“Why would you think that?” She lifted the hand that held hers and kissed it. “Are you well?” she asked when he did not answer her query.

“I have never been kissed before,” he said softly.

Her eyes grew wide. “What? Never?”

He shook his head.

“Not even on your hand or your cheek?”

He goes on to tell her how he decided as a young boy to not be like his father and  how he had to face

a great deal of reproof for being weak, for weakness is what my father called kindness.

This is why I thought that statement was wrong at first. This man has been fighting against his father’s decrees that he will amount to nothing and that he is weak and nothing more than a lumpy pudding all his life.  So, what was happening at this point in his journey that made Collins feel as if he didn’t know how to fight?

One word. Failure.

The first of two fun fake text memes I made from Chapter 11 — This one is between Collins and Bingley

Let me explain a bit of what has happened in the story before we get to this red-waistcoat moment.

Collins has arrived at Longbourn and has been accepted into this wonderful family and group of friends who are willing to see the best in him. They (for the most part) do not put him down. They encourage him and offer help. He begins to see himself as what he wants to be — the master of Longbourn, complete with skills to run the place and a pretty wife of his choosing at his side.

And then, Captain Saunders makes his request to make an offer to Kitty, and Collins overhears part of a conversation between sisters. These things lead him to believe that he has failed. The years of proving his father wrong and the days of study under Darcy and Bingley’s tutelage are going to end in failure. He will be the master of Longbourn when Mr. Bennet dies, but he will be the last master of Longbourn for he begins to accept what his father said about his never being able to secure a wife and therefore an heir.

His efforts have failed. He doesn’t know what else to do. He has used up all of his resources and has nothing left.

However, there is that red waistcoat being held out in front of him, and he must make a decision. Will he put it on or will he leave it there in Bingley’s hand? And why does it matter whether he wears that piece of clothing or something else?

Here are the lines following Collins’s admission of defeat and inability to continue fighting.

“Then wear the waistcoat, and allow us to help you,” said Darcy.

And this is the second — a message from Darcy to Collins

Collins paused at the offer. He was not sure that even Darcy could help him win Kitty at present, but his heart would not allow him to give up without one more attempt, so he nodded and shrugged out of his jacket.

Darcy has said in one other place in this story that Collins is no longer alone. That is a very new thing to Collins, for he has been alone, fighting his fight against his father’s words for his entire life.  However, by choosing the waistcoat, he would be choosing to no longer be alone, which means the statement that seemed out of place and the waistcoat that seemed insignificant at first blush comprise the pivotal moment in Mr. Collins’s inner journey.

Now, the events which follow Collins’s decision could go either direction. He may or may not win Kitty’s heart. Collins does not know what Kitty will do when presented with Saunder’s offer. He does not know that the conversation he overheard was a lie to keep Lydia in the dark. He was not present as we, the readers, are when Kitty is crying over possibly having to accept Saunders. He just knows that he must either choose lonely failure or one more attack, flanked by his brothers.

And it is that decision to put on the waistcoat and to move forward one more time which enables him to vanquish his father’s words once and for all and allows him to become what he desires to be — the Master of Longbourn, not just in title but to the very core of his being.

Share your thoughts on this post by leaving a comment below, and

you will be entered to win one ebook copy of Master of Longbourn.

Contest ends at 11:59 PM EST on July 10, 2018.


Leenie B Books



29 Responses to My Dear Mr. Collins, One Author’s Journey, Part 2

  1. I read Book 1 and I commented about it. I am awaiting part two. From the comments made by Mr. Collins, “I don’t know how to fight”, I just want to hug him, comfort him like a mom should have done. My father use to tell me that I would never amount to anything more than a dishwasher, I can truly say that I understand Mr. Collings; I understand how such comments can hurt and haunt all your life. To have a Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley in your life, to help you and boost your moral; I didn’t have that, but I am so glad that Mr. Collins does. I can’t wait to read what you have created.

  2. This excerpt is a good introduction to knowing another side of Mr Collins that not many authors choose to write, Leenie. Thanks to your deft hand at turning unlikable characters like into a good sort of fellow, I would cheer him on in his pursuit of Kitty’s hand. I would love to read the book and find out how he win Kitty’s heart in the end.

    • I’m so glad you found the excerpt intriguing enough to wish to find out more about Mr. Collins. 🙂 He and Kitty are just so sweet together. I hope you get a chance to read their story.

  3. That’s one of the things about this Leenieizing of Mr. Collins. You don’t see just the caricature you see in so many novels. He has layers and reasons for his awkwardness and run on sentences. LOL And he knows it. I also love how Darcy sees his nerves early on and uses that to help him learn how to communicate with Mr. Collins. Please leave me out of the drawing as I have the book. 🙂

    • I love making characters have layers 😉 and I figured Darcy with his awkwardness in social situations could empathize with a fellow like Collins. And then just that acceptance begins to change Collins. He’s no longer the outcast. The cool guy likes him! 😀 And those little things start the snowball of changes and allows for more acceptance which brings greater inner changes and so on and so on.

      • First let me say how much I enjoy reading your books. In regards to Mr. Collins; I am so happy that you have pulled apart his layers for all the world to see. I just started reading My Dear Mr. Collins and am looking foreword to having a deeper relationship with the man. It does not surprise me that Mr. Collins has layers, we all do; it is unfortunate that not all of us are spurred on to open up and take risks the way Mr. Collins and Mr. Darcy have been.

        • I’m so glad you find him interesting. He is taking risks and improving which takes courage. It’s also too bad that not everyone will do as Darcy and Bingley and others are doing in looking for those layers instead of taking a quick glance and brushing him off as just annoying. 🙂

  4. Congratulations on your new book. I have not read it yet, but the excerpt promises to be an entertaining read. Having Mr. Collins paired with Kitty is certainly unexpected. This side of Mr. Collins is definitely more likeable. Thank you for a chance to win a copy.

    • You’re welcome! This Collins is definitely likable, and Kitty, who is a bit more Jane like than Lydia like, works quite well with him. Good luck in the draw!

  5. Now if we all just had that kind of support and understanding, the world would be a better place. Thank you for sharing!

    • Absolutely! I totally agree. If we had it and if we were it 🙂 — I guess the only one we can control there is to be this kind of support for others. 🙂

  6. I loved this story. I enjoyed reading about Mr. Collin’s journeys. You were able to capture his story in such a way that my heart went out to him. And I loved how you gave him a true family and love.

  7. Posted on July 3 with contest running to June 10? You historical romance writers really do turn back time!
    This is really a different Mr Collins from any ever seen before. I’ve always been sympathetic to him, but until now, I seemed to be the only person who was.
    I’ve always seen him as well-meaning and trying to follow the rules of Society, but never quite understanding what those rules were.
    As a strong fan of your work, I am excited about the chance to win a copy of one of the few books of yours that I don’t have. Thank you!

    • Haha! Too funny! I forgot to fix that. Sorry, I’ll do that after I finish typing here. 🙂 It should be July 10.

      I have to say this is the first time I have really even considered him so sympathetically. I never saw him as evil or horrid, but I hadn’t given him too much thought really. This was a fun exercise in considering him in such a way.

      Thanks for being a fan and reading my stories! 🙂 Good luck in the draw! It’s a good story, so I hope you get a chance to read it.

      Now to go fix that date 😀 (Are you sure we can’t turn the clock back and have a few more days of summer — maybe not at the current temps here, but free from school year responsibilities?)

    • Yes, it is a difficult step. As he is in this story, he has such an understated, quiet strength to him. I felt it draw me to him as I was writing, and I can understand why Kitty would have been enamored with him as well.

    • He is surprisingly likable — it surprised me that I liked him so much as I was writing. This version of him is one of my favourite characters that I have written.

  8. This promises to be an interesting take on Mr. Collins. Most variations I’ve read have him either as a bumbling fool, or someone more nefarious. This new characterization appears to humanize him and gives us insight into what made him who he is. It will be an interesting read.

    • Yes, this Mr. Collins is very different, although still based on what we read in canon but with a few tweaks that allowed me to take him down this likable road. I think you’ll enjoy him when you get to read the full story.

  9. Congratulations on your new novel!

    What an enticing excerpt 🙂

    Thank you for the chance to win a copy.

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