Night Jasmine Book Club: Charlotte

Given the long weekend, I’d nearly forgotten that this was a Tuesday! I still mean to chime in about Penelope, but it’s well past time to move on to our patiently waiting Charlotte, who is, after all, the heroine.

To start us off, here’s my favorite question from the Readers Guide:

At the beginning of the book, Robert encounters Charlotte as she’s reading the Frances Burney novel Evelina; she and Robert refer to this book periodically throughout The Temptation of the Night Jasmine. From Wikipedia: “Evelina, the title character, is the unacknowledged daughter of a dissipated English aristocrat. Her dubious birth has seen her raised in rural seclusion until her eighteenth year. Through a series of humorous events that take place in London and the resort town of Bristol-Hotwells, Evelina learns how to navigate the complex layers of eighteenth-century society and earn the love of a distinguished nobleman.” How does Charlotte’s story mirror that of Evelina’s? Why do you think the author chose to reference this work in her novel?

And some related questions:

How does Charlotte’s tendency to view her life through the lens of a novel impact her actions and the trajectory of the plot throughout the course of the novel?

Have you ever used a fictional character/work as a model for your life?


  1. Jess G. on February 17, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    I definitely can relate to Charlotte’s tendency to look to books as a sort of model for her life.
    This mostly applies to fictional heroes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out too well for me. I mean, let’s face it, guys in books are just better.

    Although Charlotte learns to reel in this habit, it does sort of work out for her. I think it’s pretty obvious how Charlotte can be related to Evelina and she DOES win her love at the end.
    Maybe she just shouldn’t buy in quite so much for the adventerous bits.

  2. Megan on February 17, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    It’s a very interesting concept, modeling your own life after a character or book. I think I model my dreams after them, but if you let fiction into your reality too much, I fear the results. I guess you’d end up disillusioned like Charlotte. Thankfully she gets her nose out of the book and realizes that reality can be just as interesting, just as wonderful as fiction.

    I loved when Robert referred to Charlotte as talking like a book because I totally do that! And get called out for it by my little sister ;D

  3. Stephanie Stoddard on February 17, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    I have always wondered what it would be like to view your world in terms of a book. For the amount i read i am sure i do at times…

    In Charlotte’s case i think it kinda gives her the ability to step back and examine her actions and those of other people. Though books can be true to life characters in books tend to be less flawed than their real life readers. At least in the time period of books that She is reading.

    I also agree guys in books are better. LOL there is even a facebook group i am in love with fictional men LOL…

    I think the author chose to write Charlotte this way because she is a dreamer, shes whimsical. she wants to believe in the good and innocent. The real world is not always like that and even with the excitement of real life, someone with such sweetness remains so. They become more aware of human nature which i think is the growth process Charlotte goes through.

    ok back to the term paper.

  4. Kristen on February 18, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    I also love the second the question. I think part of her wanting to classify Robert as first the shinning white knight, and then the rake is her trying to put him into a traditional literary role. In most books, people are either 90% good or 90% bad. They don’t usually fall just over one line or the other, so it was natural for her to try to shove him into one box or the other, but never a little bit of both.

    I don’t think that there is one girl out there who will tell you that guys in books are worse than real guys. I think that this is due to actually being able to understand what guys in books are thinking. Plus, they are very rarely worse than average looking.

  5. Lisa Danielson on February 19, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    Charlotte was the only child in a household that was run by an overbearing opinionated grandparent. Because she was a shy, lonely, introverted child, she turned to books. Her books were her reality and heroines were her friends. As chilren and playmates, she and Robert chased unicorns together but only for a short time. When he left, he became like a hero in a story. Unrequited love is dangerous because she imagined him to be someone greater than he was. She set herself up for heartache from the start. Life is never what it is in books or movies. When Robert broke her heart, she was scrambling to find a new heroine to identify with. She really needed to find herself. When she did, she was stronger and ready to accept Robert and have a healthy relationship.

    I have to say that I hated that the Duchess paid Charlotte’s friends to come to parties and dance with her! In fact, I would like to see the Duchess taken down a notch or two.

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