The Other Bennet Sister
Mary, the bookish ugly duckling of Pride and Prejudice’s five Bennet sisters, emerges from the shadows and transforms into a desired woman with choices of her own.What if Mary Bennet’s life took a different path from that laid out for her in Pride and Prejudice? What if the frustrated intellectual of the Bennet family, the marginalized middle daughter, the plain girl who takes refuge in her books, eventually found the fulfillment enjoyed by her prettier, more confident sisters? This is the plot of The Other Bennet Sister, a debut novel with exactly the affection and authority to satisfy Austen fans.Ultimately, Mary’s journey is like that taken by every Austen heroine. She learns that she can only expect joy when she has accepted who she really is. She must throw off the false expectations and wrong ideas that have combined to obscure her true nature and prevented her from what makes her happy. Only when she undergoes this evolution does she have a chance at finding fulfillment; only then does she have the clarity to recognize her partner when he presents himself—and only at that moment is she genuinely worthy of love.Mary’s destiny diverges from that of her sisters. It does not involve broad acres or landed gentry. But it does include a man; and, as in all Austen novels, Mary must decide whether he is the truly the one for her. In The Other Bennet Sister, Mary is a fully rounded character—complex, conflicted, and often uncertain; but also vulnerable, supremely sympathetic, and ultimately the protagonist of an uncommonly satisfying debut novel.

The Other Bennet Sister Details

TitleThe Other Bennet Sister
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 31st, 2020
PublisherHenry Holt & Company
ISBN-139781250129413
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Retellings

The Other Bennet Sister Review

  • Roman Clodia
    January 1, 1970
    There have been numberless revisits, of course, to Pride & Prejudice but so many are sunny romances: this, like Jo Baker's 'Longbourn' takes a welcome critical look at that well-loved classic and at the characters within it. Focusing on Mary, the leftover Bennet who we love to mock, this redraws the whole family, including Jane and Lizzy, and also makes us ashamed of our complicity in sidelining Mary - however pious and dull, it's a terrible thing for a girl to feel unloved and unwanted in There have been numberless revisits, of course, to Pride & Prejudice but so many are sunny romances: this, like Jo Baker's 'Longbourn' takes a welcome critical look at that well-loved classic and at the characters within it. Focusing on Mary, the leftover Bennet who we love to mock, this redraws the whole family, including Jane and Lizzy, and also makes us ashamed of our complicity in sidelining Mary - however pious and dull, it's a terrible thing for a girl to feel unloved and unwanted in her own family. Hadlow doesn't overdo things so this never becomes a kind of Bennet misery-memoir, but it does offer a new perspective on well-known events.The first third has too much P&P for my taste: Hadlow cut-and-pastes great swathes of the original which I found myself skimming - it's only after that point that this starts to take on a new life of its own. There are new instances of 'pride' and 'prejudice', of sense vs sensibility, and Mary comes into her own - even facing a dilemma lifted from 'Emma' with aplomb. I'd say that some of the character development is too fast and implausible: Mary goes from being repressed and lacking in self-respect to charmingly forthright and bold in the snap of a finger, for example. All the same, this re-opens the original with one eye on our present (of course) and deals with issues of self-worth in a light way. It's worth pushing on through the repetitive first third, the interlude that takes us to 50% as then the book takes on a life of its own.
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  • Anna Luce
    January 1, 1970
    DNF 50% (my first DNF of 2020...).Janice Hadlow's version of Mary Bennet struck me as a Georgian era version of today's "I'm not like other girls" girl.Mary Bennet has already been the subject of many sequels and re-tellings (there is a great article on her character called There’s Something About Mary Bennet) but I don't think that Hadlow's vision of her is particularly compelling or improving. In The Other Bennet Sister Mary is painted as the overlooked underdog (which fair enough, Hadlow DNF 50% (my first DNF of 2020...).Janice Hadlow's version of Mary Bennet struck me as a Georgian era version of today's "I'm not like other girls" girl.Mary Bennet has already been the subject of many sequels and re-tellings (there is a great article on her character called There’s Something About Mary Bennet) but I don't think that Hadlow's vision of her is particularly compelling or improving. In The Other Bennet Sister Mary is painted as the overlooked underdog (which fair enough, Hadlow wanted to give a reason why Mary seems so unappealing in Pride and Prejudice) who is constantly overshadowed by her sisters. The problem is...Mary is so self-pitying as to be completely unsympathetic. The first few chapters tell painfully slow and dull accounts of all the ways in which Mary has been mistreated by her family. She is plain, not very charming, and so unbearably sanctimonious. She actually believes that she is better than her sisters and is incredibly dismissive of their personalities, hobbies, and observations. Which...yeah, being bitter is fine but why be such a solipsistic whiner? Mary is constantly playing her own violin.I've only read half of this book and so far the story is a re-telling of Pride and Prejudice from Mary's perspective. Her life isn't that all exciting: she tries some glasses on, she buys a pretty dress, and she tries some makeup. There were painfully detailed descriptions of the most basic of things. Which might have been vaguely appealing if Mary wasn't such a downer. At one point I wouldn't have been surprised if she'd broken into a 'conceal don't feel' type of song.The other characters are rather different from their source material. Charlotte is turned into a rather vindictive person...which didn't really resonate with me.Credit where credit's due: Hadlow does render the historical setting of her story and her language does occasionally echo that of Jane Austen herself.What can I say? I liked the idea of this book and I love the cover...but the actual contents aren't my cup of tea. Maybe it gets better, maybe Mary changes...but life is short and if I read one more line on 'poor Mary' I might loose it...Read more reviews on my blog / / / View all my reviews on Goodreads
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  • Eric
    January 1, 1970
    Pitch-perfect, this is the best continuation of a Jane Austen novel I have read. The author has captured the tone and spirit of the original, and given new life to one of its most sidelined characters, Mary Bennet. Not only that, but she has also enhanced my understanding of one of the least likeable, Mr. William Collins. I am glad that I read this book, having initially been wary because of bad experiences with other “Jane-lite” novels, which either repeated her plots in plodding prose, or Pitch-perfect, this is the best continuation of a Jane Austen novel I have read. The author has captured the tone and spirit of the original, and given new life to one of its most sidelined characters, Mary Bennet. Not only that, but she has also enhanced my understanding of one of the least likeable, Mr. William Collins. I am glad that I read this book, having initially been wary because of bad experiences with other “Jane-lite” novels, which either repeated her plots in plodding prose, or twisted her characters into unlikely poses. Here I found nothing which jarred on my sensibilities, and found much to savour.My only quibbles are that I thought the resolution of the plot was unduly protracted and that Mrs Bennet was made to appear as rather more malign than the silly, narrow, and undereducated woman Austen portrays.Recommended. Very readable and most enjoyable.Thank you to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for the digital review copy.
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  • Annette
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsMary Bennet, the middle sister, possesses neither beauty not charm shared by her sisters. The ugly duckling becomes the subject of many conversations. She finds consolation in music as she has no talent for drawing or painting and no patience for needlework. To stretch her intellect, Mary asks her mother to hire a governess, which is met with bleak enthusiasm. She is directed to Mr. Bennet’s library to read to her heart’s content. To her surprise the first book she picks is written by a 3.5 starsMary Bennet, the middle sister, possesses neither beauty not charm shared by her sisters. The ugly duckling becomes the subject of many conversations. She finds consolation in music as she has no talent for drawing or painting and no patience for needlework. To stretch her intellect, Mary asks her mother to hire a governess, which is met with bleak enthusiasm. She is directed to Mr. Bennet’s library to read to her heart’s content. To her surprise the first book she picks is written by a woman. To her disappointment, that’s the only book in her father’s library written by a woman. Nevertheless, “she felt the unused muscles of her mind flex and curiosity stir within her.” Normally, she wouldn’t be interested in attending ball, but now she is even excited about it.My weakness is I have a hard time resisting books associated with Jane Austin. But then the realization hits me that I already know those characters. Even though, Mary is a very interesting character and the writing is superb with wonderful sense of humor, it wasn’t enough for me. I think I’m expecting something new that would surprise me and it doesn’t come.The story is way too long. It would be much stronger with some parts trimmed.
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  • Daphne
    January 1, 1970
    Ugh.I was overjoyed when I saw this book at my local bookshop as I loved the idea of Mary’s story put to the page. It seemed so promising. And it was at first.Then it turned into Pride and Prejudice 2.0 (Mary’s POV), until Part Two where it jolts two years into the future. I remained hopeful it would not be too fanfic-y.The latter half of Part 3 and onwards saw an intelligent, burdened, lonely story turn into too much a RomCom for me. Mary gets a makeover! Mary falls in love! It was just Ugh.I was overjoyed when I saw this book at my local bookshop as I loved the idea of Mary’s story put to the page. It seemed so promising. And it was at first.Then it turned into Pride and Prejudice 2.0 (Mary’s POV), until Part Two where it jolts two years into the future. I remained hopeful it would not be too fanfic-y.The latter half of Part 3 and onwards saw an intelligent, burdened, lonely story turn into too much a RomCom for me. Mary gets a makeover! Mary falls in love! It was just waaaayyy too cheesy and unoriginal for my tastes. I found the character development jarringly sudden and not much earned, and I was never convinced by the relationship with Mr Hayward. I appreciate the new perspective on Mr Collins, but disliked the rather unnecessary turn of Charlotte Lucas into a vindictive, selfish woman. And with as much page-time as Caroline Bingley gets, I’d hope to get a more rounded view of her rather than to just have her be a Mean Girl.There are also not one but FIVE very indiscreet nods to Pride and Prejudice (some of these direct citations) that takes you completely out of the story because they’re so obvious (yes, I’m looking at you, Lizzie-complaining-about-the-characters-in-her-book-not-seeing-they’re-a-perfect-match).Sad to say (because I had such high hopes for this one), but it’s gonna have to be a no from me, fam.
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  • Nancy
    January 1, 1970
    All any of us want is a little attention, she thought...~from The Other Bennett Sister by Janice HadlowPoor Mary Bennett, the 'ugly duckling' sister, the comic foil, the forgotten and ignored child! Portrayed in film as squinting, clueless, socially inept, pseudo-intellectual, and plain.Her story must be depressing. She watches her older sisters marry well for love, and her silliest, youngest sister at least snags a handsome rake. Even Charlotte Lucas gets her ever after--happy to have a home if All any of us want is a little attention, she thought...~from The Other Bennett Sister by Janice HadlowPoor Mary Bennett, the 'ugly duckling' sister, the comic foil, the forgotten and ignored child! Portrayed in film as squinting, clueless, socially inept, pseudo-intellectual, and plain.Her story must be depressing. She watches her older sisters marry well for love, and her silliest, youngest sister at least snags a handsome rake. Even Charlotte Lucas gets her ever after--happy to have a home if not Mr. Collins as a mate.Janice Hadlow's debut novel The Other Bennett Sister channels Austen's character Mary Bennett, imagining a worthy character who lives into a richer life. The novel shows inspiration from Austen's story and themes yet Hadlow develops the story in an original way, true to the historical time and setting.Themes of self-realization, self-recreation, learning through error, prejudice and pride, sense and sensibility are all a part of Mary's path. The first part of the book follows Pride and Prejudice from Mary's perspective. Those of us familiar with Austen's novel must be patient; the best is to come. We do learn that Mary had taken to reading theology and philosophy hoping for her father's approval. After her sisters, including Kitty, are married and Mr. Bennett has passed, twenty-year-old Mary and Mrs. Bennett are dependent on the rich sisters. Miss Bingley takes out her disappointment on Mary with whispered jabs. And the Darcy household is too happy and perfect to easily allow her room. In desperation, Mary turns to the Gardiners. They offer Mary the example of a happy marriage, value her for herself, and provide good counsel.When Mary is convinced to select a new wardrobe to better suit London society, I loved the descriptions of spotted and stripped and sprigged muslins, the fad colors of coromandel and jonquil, the green dress that will replace the dull colors that had allowed Mary to previously disappear into the woodwork.In her simple elegance, Mary takes her place in society and attracts the attention of several men. One combines good sense and steadiness with a love of poetry. The other embraces free-thinking and prefers the pursuit of sensation as life's goal.She meets men with a love of the novel. I love the many references to the literature and poetry that arises in conversation:William Godwin's Poetic Justice Mary Wollstonecraft Lord Byron and ShelleyTintern Abbey and We Are Seven by William Wordsworth; also his Guide to the LakesEvelina by Fanny BurneyTom Jones by Henry FieldingPamela and Sir Charles Grandison by Samuel RichardsonI loved how the Romantic Era makes its impact on her life with Mary's (unsuitable) beau extolling feeling and sensation and rejecting cultural expectations and values, especially concerning the role of women and marriage as a socio-economic compromise.Our lives are so brief and yet we spend so much of them obeying rules we did not make.~ from The Other Bennett Sister by Janice HadlowMary early prefers the steady man. But his reticence leaves Mary to be persuaded into unwise decisions.This landscape gives us a proper sense of perspective. It shows us our smallness in the great scheme of things.~ from The Other Bennett Sister by Janice HadlowThe Gardiners take that trip to the Lake District they had once planned for Elizabeth; Mary's preferred beau accompanies them while the other just shows up.Before she came to the Lakes, she had read a great deal about the subline--sights so extraordinary they could not be adequately described, only felt and experienced. She had never expected to feel for herself such an extraordinary consummation.~ from The Other Bennett Sister by Janice Hadlow...they caught sight of the great lake at Windermere; then they were quiet, for it was a sight magnificent enough to silence anyone.~ from The Other Bennett SisterThe group decides to walk up the second largest mountain in England. It is a rocky climb that will last all day--and threatens Mary's future happiness.The romance has enough twists and turns for any Austen lover, with the satisfaction of a happy ending. This is not a plot giveaway--any Austen fan fiction must have it's happily ever after.Hadlow has given us a fantastic read.I was given access to a free egalley by the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.
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  • Jenny
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. It is due for release in January 2020.When the book starts, the style of narration is so interesting. You can almost hear the author making observations about all the goings on in the Bennet household at the time of the Netherfield ball. It invites a really thoughtful examination of all the Bennets and their relationships to each other - particularly to Mary. What becomes very evident early on is that Mary has no I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. It is due for release in January 2020.When the book starts, the style of narration is so interesting. You can almost hear the author making observations about all the goings on in the Bennet household at the time of the Netherfield ball. It invites a really thoughtful examination of all the Bennets and their relationships to each other - particularly to Mary. What becomes very evident early on is that Mary has no real place in her family - she is either an annoyance or invisible and so we get to know a young lady who is lonely and sad with no real identity of her own. The reader sees Mary with all the members of her family with the message that she is always wrong given to her over and over again. I really felt sorry for her. The story then moves forwards as Mary tries to find a long term arrangement for herself somewhere she fits in.... this results in a very similar set of experiences - dismissed, disregarded and unimportant. This goes on for a long time before a meeting with a new acquaintance seems to ignite a new interest in Mary which is the key to her discovering herself, her personality and her own interests. It's a real coming of age tale as she grows into herself and becomes more typical of the Bennet female! The tone and style of the book is really good - it's got a really authentic feel. It's really really long! It's taken me a long time to read, despite holding my interest. Things don't really start changing for Mary until the second half of the book. This isn't a story full of action and adventure... it's not a love story. It's a story about self knowledge, discovery and relationships with others. Elizabeth, Darcy, Bingley, Jane and Mrs Bennet feature but not significantly. The reader spends most of the time with Mary, the Gardiners and their acquaintances Mr Ryder and Mr Haywood. Miss Bingley features quite heavily and is delightfully obnoxious - which is just how I like her!This is a really well written book. It has made me appreciate Mary a lot more as well as the prospects for a woman who is not a traditional beauty and has intellectual interests. I like this Mary and the reader is taken on a real journey with her.
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  • Louise
    January 1, 1970
    The Other Bennet Sister is a very interesting look at one of the more overlooked characters in Pride and Prejudice — the middle child, Mary Bennet.What I really liked about The Other Bennet Sister was that Hadlow spends a lot of time really taking a good look at some of the minor characters and interactions. Mr Collins, Caroline Lucas, Miss Bingley and the ball at Netherfield are all examined and shown through another light or another point of view. She manages to create a much more The Other Bennet Sister is a very interesting look at one of the more overlooked characters in Pride and Prejudice — the middle child, Mary Bennet.What I really liked about The Other Bennet Sister was that Hadlow spends a lot of time really taking a good look at some of the minor characters and interactions. Mr Collins, Caroline Lucas, Miss Bingley and the ball at Netherfield are all examined and shown through another light or another point of view. She manages to create a much more three-dimensional and sympathetic figures out of characters more usually seen as unsympathetic or merely humorous. She presents a rationale behind actions of forgotten characters and shows more of the consequences of their decisions play out.The early section of the book re-covers a lot of the ground from Pride and Prejudice itself, but we also get to see a lot of Mary’s upbringing and how it affects her perception and interaction with those events.Mary’s the ugly duckling of the five sisters: the boring one, the smart one, the one that should have to take a far more practical approach to love and marriage. We get to see how this informs her relationships with the other Bennet girls, Charlotte, her mother and eventually with the various men that come into their lives. It’s fascinating to see — especially in Mary’s conversations with other women — how various factors affect the choices and opportunities and decisions women face in this society when they’re not buffered by Lizzy and Jane’s protagonist shields.The Other Bennet Sister was both incredibly interesting and wonderfully charming. I kept picking it up when I had other things to do and staying up with it well past lights out time. I think it’s perhaps a tad long–it could be nearer to 400 words than 500 without losing anything–but that’s a very minor gripe about a wonderful story.This is one of those ARCs that I enjoyed so much that I’ll be picking up a finished copy for myself to reread at a later date.
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  • Menna van Praag
    January 1, 1970
    I’m listening to this on audiobook- the size was a little too intimidating for proper reading! & already enjoying it immensely!
  • Dee/ bookworm
    January 1, 1970
    I always wonder about Mary when reading or watching Pride and Prejudice, so I was thrilled to get this novel. I really like the authors take on Mary. It brought the Bennett family in focus from a much different view, and while entertaining, it didn't deviate from Austen's novel, only added to it. I like how Mary, by herself, became a strong character and was very smart. She was book smart and smart with her decisions. I like how you saw a lot of true emotion from her character and how in the end I always wonder about Mary when reading or watching Pride and Prejudice, so I was thrilled to get this novel. I really like the authors take on Mary. It brought the Bennett family in focus from a much different view, and while entertaining, it didn't deviate from Austen's novel, only added to it. I like how Mary, by herself, became a strong character and was very smart. She was book smart and smart with her decisions. I like how you saw a lot of true emotion from her character and how in the end she stood up for herself, while recognizing her own faults. I received an advance reader copy from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. These opinions are my own.
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  • Roberta
    January 1, 1970
    This book is extremely long - it took me 10 hours to read, compared to the 3 or 4 a normal length novel takes me. Parts one and two are largely composed of the melancholy reflections of Mary, (both before and after the marriages of Lydia, Jane and Elizabeth) who seems utterly miserable.It was interesting to see the Bennet family from a different perspective, and I did enjoy seeing Mary growing up and working out how she wanted to live.There are many typos and other errors, for example part two This book is extremely long - it took me 10 hours to read, compared to the 3 or 4 a normal length novel takes me. Parts one and two are largely composed of the melancholy reflections of Mary, (both before and after the marriages of Lydia, Jane and Elizabeth) who seems utterly miserable.It was interesting to see the Bennet family from a different perspective, and I did enjoy seeing Mary growing up and working out how she wanted to live.There are many typos and other errors, for example part two has both large and small sections randomly in italics. I won’t list all the other errors, as I’m assuming there will be a further proof read/edit before publication and these will be removed.I disliked or disagreed with a couple of plot lines - that between Mary and Mr Collins, and the author’s interpretation of Darcy and Elizabeth’s marriage certainly doesn’t agree with mine.This book would be much more to my taste if the first two parts had been summarised in two or three chapters - in fact part one could have been summarised in a few paragraphs! Then, I might have had more patience and thus enjoyed parts three and four more, in spite of their lengthiness. However, if you enjoy lengthy books with vast amounts of introspection, then this may be the book for you.I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
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  • Pan Macmillan Australia
    January 1, 1970
    According to Wikipedia, which has reams and reams of material on Pride and Prejudice, you’ll find nearly 200 years’ worth of reprints, unofficial sequels, spin-offs, plays, TV series and movies, including the Pride and Prejudice-inspired Bridget Jones’s Diary, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and P.D. James’s detective novel Death Comes to Pemberley. There are dozens and dozens of adaptations and continuations. This is not just another Pride and Prejudice spin-off – this is excellent quality, According to Wikipedia, which has reams and reams of material on Pride and Prejudice, you’ll find nearly 200 years’ worth of reprints, unofficial sequels, spin-offs, plays, TV series and movies, including the Pride and Prejudice-inspired Bridget Jones’s Diary, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and P.D. James’s detective novel Death Comes to Pemberley. There are dozens and dozens of adaptations and continuations. This is not just another Pride and Prejudice spin-off – this is excellent quality, superbly written, perfectly placed and paced, and any fan of Jane Austen’s will want to read it. I laughed and cried. It is brilliant. When I finished The Other Bennet Sister I immediately wanted to go back and read Pride and Prejudice again, and I think other readers will too. I’ll leave you with the opening of The Other Bennet Sister, setting the scene for Mary, the bookish, boring middle Bennet sister:“It is a sad fact of life that if a young woman is unlucky enough to come into the world without expectations, she had better do all she can to ensure she is born beautiful. To be handsome and poor is misfortune enough; but to be both plain and penniless is a hard fate indeed.”Poor Mary. Read on!- Jenny
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  • Anna Louise
    January 1, 1970
    This was an intriguing look into the most unloved Bennet sister from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Mary is often portrayed as the plain, spinsterish music snob without much in depth look into her thoughts and feelings - which we thankfully get in spades in this reimagined Austen world. Whilst I enjoyed this book and seeing things from Mary’s perspective, I felt that a few characters came across a little unfeeling - I have no doubt that Mr Darcy would have put more of an effort in making her This was an intriguing look into the most unloved Bennet sister from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Mary is often portrayed as the plain, spinsterish music snob without much in depth look into her thoughts and feelings - which we thankfully get in spades in this reimagined Austen world. Whilst I enjoyed this book and seeing things from Mary’s perspective, I felt that a few characters came across a little unfeeling - I have no doubt that Mr Darcy would have put more of an effort in making her comfortable in his home and the Elizabeth wouldn’t have dropped her like a stone as soon as Georgiana came into the picture. But that’s because those two are my original OTP and I think highly of them. More than I should, some might say.
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    This book reimagines the classic novel Pride & Prejudice from the perspective of middle sister Mary. I enjoyed the parallels between this story and the original and would recommend to all fans of P&P. The first half of the novel follows the same timeline as the original and the second half places the story 2 years on, which allows the author freedom to imagine a life for Mary. I believe some aspects of this storyline follow too closely to Lizzy's story in the original and are just This book reimagines the classic novel Pride & Prejudice from the perspective of middle sister Mary. I enjoyed the parallels between this story and the original and would recommend to all fans of P&P. The first half of the novel follows the same timeline as the original and the second half places the story 2 years on, which allows the author freedom to imagine a life for Mary. I believe some aspects of this storyline follow too closely to Lizzy's story in the original and are just replaced by Mary so I would have liked to see the author move away from this plotline and imagine an entirely different life for Mary.Thanks to NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book. All opinions are my own.#TheOtherBennetSister #NetGalley
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    I am a huge fan of Pride and Prejudice but must confess I have never given much thought to Mary and her experiences so when I saw this book available I jumped at the opportunity to experience one of my favourite stories from a new perspective.The beginning of The Other Bennett sister is set in the same timeline as the events of Pride and Prejudice and offers Mary’s perspective of those events. I enjoyed learning more about how Mary’s character had developed through the effect of her mothers I am a huge fan of Pride and Prejudice but must confess I have never given much thought to Mary and her experiences so when I saw this book available I jumped at the opportunity to experience one of my favourite stories from a new perspective.The beginning of The Other Bennett sister is set in the same timeline as the events of Pride and Prejudice and offers Mary’s perspective of those events. I enjoyed learning more about how Mary’s character had developed through the effect of her mothers preference for her other, seemingly more attractive sisters and how this along side the desire to be admired in her fathers eyes shapes the character we meet in the original book.It was hard to read as Mary grew to believe herself unlikable and plain and see her struggle as she tries to change others opinions and is thwarted. The later parts of the book focus on how Mary develops following the death of Mr Bennett. I really enjoyed this continuation of the story and found myself really rooting for her. I am glad I read this book and would definitely recommend it to those looking to experience more of the world of Pride and Prejudice.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    Janice Hadlow’s first novel is an entertaining read, written in the tone of and with the underlying philosophical interests of its very much older sister, ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Poor Mary Bennet who, both in the novel and in its contemporary screen adaptations, is given very little attention, is centre stage in ‘The Other Bennet Sister’.In many ways Hadlow develops Mary’s character very effectively. The reader can imagine why she suffers from such low self-esteem: very poor parenting, the odd Janice Hadlow’s first novel is an entertaining read, written in the tone of and with the underlying philosophical interests of its very much older sister, ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Poor Mary Bennet who, both in the novel and in its contemporary screen adaptations, is given very little attention, is centre stage in ‘The Other Bennet Sister’.In many ways Hadlow develops Mary’s character very effectively. The reader can imagine why she suffers from such low self-esteem: very poor parenting, the odd one out in sibling attachments, the need to wear spectacles in an age where it is better for women to suffer than to announce any physical imperfections, and the list goes on. But as Longbourn’s wise housekeeper, Mrs Hill, tells Mary, she only thinks herself so low because she is forever comparing herself unfavourably with her very pretty sisters. For readers who are familiar with ‘Pride and Prejudice’ the first third of this novel drags a little. After all, we all know this story and it doesn’t take long for us to appreciate that Mary is depressed, harassed and lonely.‘Two Years Later’ is when Mary’s new story begins. After feeling unwelcome in the long term at the Bingley, Darcy and Collins residences, and with the ever-present dark shadow of spinsterhood by her side, she decides to visit the Gardiners (the aunt and uncle who rescued Elizabeth Bennet in the original story) in London and slowly learns to grow in self-confidence and enjoy herself in their rambunctious family home. In short, this is a place where she is loved for herself, and she blossoms.This would not be the expected Jane Austen spin-off without the ensuing struggle between suitable and unsuitable suitors, mistakes regretted, assumptions made and plenty of Regency detail: domestic settings, travel, commerce, culture and customs, all described most convincingly by historian Hadlow with a lightness of touch suitable for a comedy of manners.By the end of the novel Mary has learnt to be brave. She recognises the importance of acting on feelings as well as on reason. We applaud her; we enjoy her happiness. And yet… Might this novel have had a more lasting effect than that akin to binging on a box of fine quality chocolates if the author had been a little braver too? What might have become of Mary if she had been exposed to Mary Wollstencraft’s writing as well as Wordsworth’s?My thanks to NetGalley and Mantle, an imprint of Pan Macmillan, for a copy of this novel in exchange for a fair review.
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  • Kathrin Peters
    January 1, 1970
    What is the point of this book? A pastiche following on from Pride and Prejudice, without Jane Austen's wit. It is full of predictable and one-dimensional characters, either very worthy or very objectionable. I plodded through to the end because of a book group meeting but I would not recommend it. It seems written to become a costume film. Watch this space.
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  • Susan DeLong
    January 1, 1970
    Poor Mary Bennet. She grew up in an unhappy household where her father despised her garrulous mother. Her two older sisters, Jane, was remarkably beautiful and biddable and Lizzy, had good looks and a sparkly wit. Both of these sisters married rich men with large estates and were destined to be happy for the rest of their lives.The younger two sisters, Lydia, a wilful stupid girl, ran away with the feckless soldier,Wickam, and Jane Austen never did get around to telling us the fate of the other Poor Mary Bennet. She grew up in an unhappy household where her father despised her garrulous mother. Her two older sisters, Jane, was remarkably beautiful and biddable and Lizzy, had good looks and a sparkly wit. Both of these sisters married rich men with large estates and were destined to be happy for the rest of their lives.The younger two sisters, Lydia, a wilful stupid girl, ran away with the feckless soldier,Wickam, and Jane Austen never did get around to telling us the fate of the other one, Kitty.Then, there was the middle sister, Mary, who was plain looking, so disparaged her sisters love of pretty dresses and bonnets. Mary devoted herself to improving her piano playing and her mind by reading all the books, considered morally correct, in her father’s library.Unfortunately, Mary’s reading of sermons made her even more depressing to be around, so even the ghastly Mr. Collins, never found her sufficiently appealing, instead asking Charlotte, the equally serious family friend to be his wife and kowtow to the awful Lady Catherine de Bourgh.Everyone who loved Pride and Prejudice wanted to know more about the five sisters and many authors have been pleased to try to fill that demand.In The Other Bennet Sister, the author first fills the new reader in what has already happened and then jumps forward two years to tell the story from Mary’s perspective. First she visits Jane and Mr. Bingley who have provided homes for Mrs Bennet, having been thrown out of Longbourne by the inheritor, Mr. Collins. The haughty and rude sister Caroline Bingley,made Mary’s visit hell, so she then fled to Lizzy and Darcy and their new son, at their palatial home, Pemberley. When she felt unwanted there,she journeyed to her childhood home, where she found Charlotte was not a loving supportive wife. But her attempts to be friendly to Mr. Collins were misconstrued, so that left the only home open to her, her aunt and uncle, the Gardiners’ in London.There Mary starts to come out of her shell. She is encouraged to accept Lizzy’s offer to buy her a new and more attractive wardrobe. She meets and falls in love with a dear friend of the Gardiners’ and this is where the author made me frustrated, in keeping with the restrictions made on well brought up females. Mary wasn’t permitted to display her affection and there was some reason her friend stopped visiting her and took off for months leaving a most unsuitable friend of his to make a move on Mary.Mrs Bennet did her usual cajoling and insisting that Mary accept his offer of marriage, but Mary, by this time, had grown into her own adult reasoning and despite learning of this suitor’s newly inherited wealth, made her mind up that marrying without love, would be far worse than becoming “ an old maid!”I enjoyed knowing that poor Mary wasn’t to remain unworthy, unloved and unmarried.
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  • Carin
    January 1, 1970
    Most people I know who read Jane Austen just detest Mary Bennet, the unlikable, prudish, judgmental middle sister from Pride & Prejudice. However I've always felt a little bad for her. Even in a large family, she's obviously cast out, with no allies to get her through their somewhat difficult life out in the rural countryside with nothing to do, no real prospects for her, and a highly uncertain future. It's lovely of Ms. Hadlow to imagine a different future for Mary than most of us do.The Most people I know who read Jane Austen just detest Mary Bennet, the unlikable, prudish, judgmental middle sister from Pride & Prejudice. However I've always felt a little bad for her. Even in a large family, she's obviously cast out, with no allies to get her through their somewhat difficult life out in the rural countryside with nothing to do, no real prospects for her, and a highly uncertain future. It's lovely of Ms. Hadlow to imagine a different future for Mary than most of us do.The book begins a bit before the appearance of Mr. Bingley and his party, and near the beginning of the book Mary, having learned that books are her only friend, is struggling to see well, and she talks her mother into letting her see an oculist, who makes a pair of spectacles for her--of which Mrs. Bennet is horrified. The oculist's son, who is learning the trade, actually seems interested in Mary and this gives a frisson of hope right up front, which sets a hopeful and positive tone for the whole book, even when things seems bleak.The Pride & Prejudice plot is set into motion and we see some scenes from the book from Mary's eyes instead of Lizzy's, which does turn things a bit on their head. We also see that the much-older Charlotte Lucas is both a source of advice and frustration to Mary, who is following in her old maid footsteps, and may also one day have to hope for a Mr. Collins to come along. So when Charlotte seems to swoop in and snatch Mr. Collins right out from under Mary, it's a blow to her already minuscule self-esteem.Then the book jumps ahead. The Bingleys are married, the Darcys are married, and Mr. Bennet has died. Mr. Collins has taken over Longborne, and horrifyingly Mary is the last single daughter, doomed to spend her days not only at the charity of her sisters, but with their mother at her constant side. After unfortunate stays with both the Bingleys and Darcys, Mary is desperate to escape, and finds solace and a welcome home in London with her Aunt and Uncle, who previously had hosted both Jane and Lizzy.With some advice from her Aunt, a lot of self-reflection, and a couple of handsome young men who see much more potential in Mary than her relatives back home ever did, Mary starts to blossom. She'll never be the great beauty that Jane is or the life of the party that Lydia is, but she's herself--just better--when she's no longer hounded and disapproved of and insulted all the livelong day. And will she find love? Is this an Austen pastiche? Is the sky blue?
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    This book does for Mary Bennet what 'The Lizzie Bennet Diaries' did for Lydia Bennet - paid homage to the original text, but made you love her, root for her, commiserate with her, and cheer for her when she won her proper ending. There cannot be much higher praise from me. I loved the exploration of Mary as a younger girl, seeing the Bennet household through her eyes and how she became the awkward, discomforted young woman that we saw in P&P. Hadlow keeps a few key scenes in so we can see This book does for Mary Bennet what 'The Lizzie Bennet Diaries' did for Lydia Bennet - paid homage to the original text, but made you love her, root for her, commiserate with her, and cheer for her when she won her proper ending. There cannot be much higher praise from me. I loved the exploration of Mary as a younger girl, seeing the Bennet household through her eyes and how she became the awkward, discomforted young woman that we saw in P&P. Hadlow keeps a few key scenes in so we can see them from another perspective which I thoroughly enjoyed. Seeing her grow, watching her strive to be the best she could be at the things she was good at, so completely determined to shine where she could, was hard but brilliant. Watching her mother and sisters repeatedly take her down was heartbreaking in a way that wasn't so hard in P&P, because of course, we're in Lizzy's head and Mary is relegated to an embarrassment.I appreciated her consideration of Mr. Collins, her insightfulness at a fairly young age, and knowledge of her perceived place in the world - while at the same time it devastated me.But when we are taken to Gracechurch Street, well, the Mary that was long buried has been freed and it was so uplifting. One thing that frustrated me, when I got to the 80% mark a Tragic Misunderstanding occurred. Wherein our heroine notices that something is amiss, knows she can right the wrong, but elects not to and thus perpetuates the suffering everyone feels. I hate this trope, so much. And maybe Ms. Austen pioneered it, it was certainly in keeping with the style and the story, but in this particular instance - well used or not - I was just thinking "Surely Mary has suffered enough, let her go gladly to the altar with no stumbling blocks!" But no, she must stumble and suffer. Ah well.The book is quite long and does drag a little around the middle but I do urge you to power on because it really does pick up again. Hadlow's writing style here is a very good Austen imitation, the turns of phrase and descriptions feel very like reading another Austen novel.And regarding Mary's much improved prospects? Headcanon accepted.
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  • cailleach
    January 1, 1970
    THis book tells the story of Mary, the awkward, plain middle sister out of the Bennet's from Pride and Prejudice. I found the story over long (way, way too over long) and quite dull in that towards the last third it became rather a chore to finish. Howver, there is a good book in here, it just needed a lot of editing and to be a similar length to Jane Austen books not the brick thick book publishers seem to favour at the moment. I'm invariably disappointed with sequels or offshoots of classics THis book tells the story of Mary, the awkward, plain middle sister out of the Bennet's from Pride and Prejudice. I found the story over long (way, way too over long) and quite dull in that towards the last third it became rather a chore to finish. Howver, there is a good book in here, it just needed a lot of editing and to be a similar length to Jane Austen books not the brick thick book publishers seem to favour at the moment. I'm invariably disappointed with sequels or offshoots of classics such as Rebecca and Gone with the Wind as the authors take the storyline off into strange places, scenarios and dectective thriller territory. This book didn't do any of that. It was a simple tale of Mary coming out of her shell, finding happiness within herself and receiving appreciation back but just dragged on.The first few chapters dealt with Mary's early childhood, her mother's disappointment at having a plain, untalented girl, trying to court her father's favour by visiting his library to read but being eschewed and then follows the Pride and Prejudice plotline in detail (from Mary's viewpoint) up unitl Lydia's elopement which is curiously glossed over and then the storyline jumps a few years ahead which was a bit strange. It settles down and Mary's growth becomes interesting and we meet old friends again, such as Charlotte Lucas and the Rev Collins as well as Mary's sisters and their spouses. I think there is a lot for Jane Austren fans to like but for me the simple plot just dragged on when cutting out a lot of navel gazing on Mary's part and contrived obstacles on her path to true love would have made this boo one to be greatly admired.
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  • Jo-anne Atkinson
    January 1, 1970
    Blessed with neither good looks, wit or vivacity Mary Bennet was the invisible one of the five daughters of Mr and Mrs Bennet of Meryton. When she realises that she needs to wear spectacles her mother despairs of her ever marrying and when she attempts to draw attention to herself at the ball she is humiliated. After her sisters marry and her father dies Mary is dependent on the kindness of family as she has no permanent home and she becomes more introverted as she feels she is a burden. Finally Blessed with neither good looks, wit or vivacity Mary Bennet was the invisible one of the five daughters of Mr and Mrs Bennet of Meryton.  When she realises that she needs to wear spectacles her mother despairs of her ever marrying and when she attempts to draw attention to herself at the ball she is humiliated.  After her sisters marry and her father dies Mary is dependent on the kindness of family as she has no permanent home and she becomes more introverted as she feels she is a burden.  Finally she goes to stay with her uncle and aunt in London and things start to change but will there be a happy ending for the other Bennet sister?This book is fabulous.  Often when sequels of greatly loved novels are produced they are a disappointment and tampering with Pride and Prejudice is a notorious trap.  Here, however, Hadlow takes one of the lesser characters and builds a novel around her which tangentially overlaps with events in the original but also explores a completely different life.  I love the fact that Mary is not a beauty and is introvert and awkward in society, her naivety is innocent and yet her depression very heartfelt.  There were many woman like Mary in the 18th and 19th century, daughters without riches or beauty yet too gentile to work and here their lives are considered.  There is an overwhelming sadness about Mary's life for the first half of the book and although the romance feels a little forced it is also exactly what the reader wishes for an honest heroine.
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  • Vivienne
    January 1, 1970
    My thanks to Pan Macmillan/Mantle for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘The Other Bennet Sister’ by Janice Hadlow in exchange for an honest review.It was published on 9 January and as the audiobook, narrated by Kristin Atherton, was available when I began reading, I listened to this in conjunction with reading the eARC.“In Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, Mary is the middle of the five Bennet girls and the plainest of them all, so what hope does she have? Prim and pious, with no redeeming features, My thanks to Pan Macmillan/Mantle for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘The Other Bennet Sister’ by Janice Hadlow in exchange for an honest review.It was published on 9 January and as the audiobook, narrated by Kristin Atherton, was available when I began reading, I listened to this in conjunction with reading the eARC.“In Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, Mary is the middle of the five Bennet girls and the plainest of them all, so what hope does she have? Prim and pious, with no redeeming features, she is unloved and seemingly unlovable.”In ‘The Other Bennet Sister’ Janice Hadlow focuses on Mary and shows another side to her. She is an introverted young woman with an interest in music and books. The first part of the novel covers the events of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ from Mary’s perspective. In the subsequent three parts we follow Mary’s story in the years following as she slowly finds her place in the world. A number of minor characters from ‘Pride and Prejudice’ make an appearance. I won’t say more to avoid spoilers. I feel that Janice Hadlow has not only written a wonderful homage to Jane Austen but then continued the story of Mary Bennet in a fashion that is very much in keeping with the style and tone of the original. For me this novel was perfection. It is quite long though I barely noticed as I was so caught up in Mary’s story.A novel that I expect will be very popular with readers who love Jane Austen. I have already been enthusiastically recommending it to friends.
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  • Adi Loya
    January 1, 1970
    I love retellings of Pride and prejudice. They usually add so much more to the lives of characters I adore so much, and I just had to get this book.First I need to get this out of the way- this book is too long in my opinion. We get a detailed description of Mary's early life and disappointments and how much of an unfortunate ugly duckling she is. Only at chapter 16 we hear of an interesting new neighbor in Netherfield Park, and from there we whizz past the plot of P&P.I was expecting a more I love retellings of Pride and prejudice. They usually add so much more to the lives of characters I adore so much, and I just had to get this book.First I need to get this out of the way- this book is too long in my opinion. We get a detailed description of Mary's early life and disappointments and how much of an unfortunate ugly duckling she is. Only at chapter 16 we hear of an interesting new neighbor in Netherfield Park, and from there we whizz past the plot of P&P.I was expecting a more detailed description of the whole Mr. Collins part and was happily rewarded, and then.... part one was done. P&P was over and I didn't know what to think. Luckily - that's when the book got so much better. We get to see how much better Mary's life is getting. We get a lot of miss Bingley's viciousness turned towards Mary, an exciting affair- more detailed than what Austen gives us, and I liked it! And then the happy ending. It was such a relief for me that Mary gets to have a happy ending. While reading this book I found myself in her more than once, and was glad to see her develop fully into her own.
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  • Rona Nimmo
    January 1, 1970
    The other Bennett sister by Janice HadlowThis the story of Mary Bennett from the Bennett Family of Pride & prejudice fame. As the very plain quiet scholastic middle daughter of 5 daughter the other 4 very beautiful. She is very much teased ridiculed and unloved in a very narcissistic household. She is also very clever and misunderstood. As the other daughters find suitors of good fortune. The family circumstances change when Mr Bennett dies and Mary must leave Longford the family home. As we The other Bennett sister by Janice HadlowThis the story of Mary Bennett from the Bennett Family of Pride & prejudice fame. As the very plain quiet scholastic middle daughter of 5 daughter the other 4 very beautiful. She is very much teased ridiculed and unloved in a very narcissistic household. She is also very clever and misunderstood. As the other daughters find suitors of good fortune. The family circumstances change when Mr Bennett dies and Mary must leave Longford the family home. As we follow Mary’s trials & tribulations of life being past from pillar to post when no one in her family wants her & she is cast aside. In desperation she writes to a favourite aunt in London and asks to stay & she is welcomed with open arms. This is a totally different household (warm & loving ) from what she has known all her life. This about Mary’s journey where she finally comes to realise that to find happiness you first have to love yourself. This is a beautifully written. You cry for Mary’s sadness and pain then feel such joy when her life completely changes. She to will eventually find love and forgive herself . Loved it !
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  • Loves
    January 1, 1970
    I received an early review copy from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review and all thoughts are my own and freely given. This book is written in the same vein as Pride and prejudice and the first part of the book mirrors the storyline from the original but this time told from Mary Bennets POV . You can't help but feel empathy for Mary's situation . Mrs Bennet is indifferent to her , Mary's lack of good looks a continuing annoyance to her mother. After the death of Mr Bennett ,Mary is the I received an early review copy from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review and all thoughts are my own and freely given. This book is written in the same vein as Pride and prejudice and the first part of the book mirrors the storyline from the original but this time told from Mary Bennets POV . You can't help but feel empathy for Mary's situation . Mrs Bennet is indifferent to her , Mary's lack of good looks a continuing annoyance to her mother. After the death of Mr Bennett ,Mary is the only unmarried child , left to feel.beholden on her married siblings. We follow her as she visits the Bingley's and the Darcy 's , then the Collins before she finds a place for herself with the Gardiners, where she blooms under their kindly guidance.The authors descriptive writing made it possible to picture the sights and sounds of the period . I was Happy that Mary finally finds her Niche in the world and ends with a happily ever after. This was a well researched book and felt authentic to the timeline portrayed.
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  • Lindsey
    January 1, 1970
    The Mary Bennet of Pride and Prejudice is plain and actually somewhat sympathetic since her parents are less than stellar and she's the often overlooked sister. This book gives her depth that P&P does not, and right off the bat, I sympathized with this version of Mary. This is almost a coming of age story, Mary is trying to find a long term plan for herself, with her own interests. Along the way, she develops relationships of different varieties and grows as the story progresses. One of the The Mary Bennet of Pride and Prejudice is plain and actually somewhat sympathetic since her parents are less than stellar and she's the often overlooked sister. This book gives her depth that P&P does not, and right off the bat, I sympathized with this version of Mary. This is almost a coming of age story, Mary is trying to find a long term plan for herself, with her own interests. Along the way, she develops relationships of different varieties and grows as the story progresses. One of the things I really like about this book, other than the storyline itself, is the tone of the book was true to the original. The only thing I didn't love was the ending seemed a bit of a rush, the entire book was about characterization but everything was wrapped up in just a few pages.Excellent read and I'll certainly be looking for future books by Janice Hadlow!
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  • Rachel Slocombe
    January 1, 1970
    'Our happiness depends on ourselves.'.The Other Bennet Sister follows Mary. Part one follows some of the events of P&P from her perspective and it's really nice to get a bit more depth of character from her and Charlotte..We then skip ahead to the death of Mr Bennet and Mary sets of to find her place in the world. We get to visit Jane, Elizabeth and Charlotte in their homes and Mr Collins because a fully fleshed person who you can't help but feel a little sorry for..This is definitely a 'Our happiness depends on ourselves.'.The Other Bennet Sister follows Mary. Part one follows some of the events of P&P from her perspective and it's really nice to get a bit more depth of character from her and Charlotte..We then skip ahead to the death of Mr Bennet and Mary sets of to find her place in the world. We get to visit Jane, Elizabeth and Charlotte in their homes and Mr Collins because a fully fleshed person who you can't help but feel a little sorry for..This is definitely a story of self discovery and learning to love yourself so that others can love you too. It's very well done and it was lovely to see "the plain sister" step into the spotlight and find her happily ever after too..I definitely recommend this if you're a fan of Pride and Prejudice.
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  • Louise
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsThis is not the first book I've read that spins off from pride and prejudice... I don't think it's even the first book I've read that makes Mary a central character.There's something quite interesting about seeing a familiar scene from an unfamiliar view point,and comforting to have familiar names,places and characters.This extends the original story well,it makes a fantastic main character out of the much forgotten middle sister.It made me feel sympathetic to Mr Collins.I Really 3.5 starsThis is not the first book I've read that spins off from pride and prejudice... I don't think it's even the first book I've read that makes Mary a central character.There's something quite interesting about seeing a familiar scene from an unfamiliar view point,and comforting to have familiar names,places and characters.This extends the original story well,it makes a fantastic main character out of the much forgotten middle sister.It made me feel sympathetic to Mr Collins.I Really enjoyed the use of familiar characters the whole way through,miss Bingley, The Gardeners and extending with new people.I must admit it lost my interest slightly with all the poetry.Besides that,I enjoyed it.
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  • Hayley Shaw
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsThis book is far too long. It starts with a 200page retelling of P&P from Mary's perspective.... not sure if this was necessary and made for a slow read. Book greatly improved when it flashforwarded 2 years later and the 'new story' began. I feel the book should have started from this point and made use of small flashbacks. If the purpose of the book was to make us like Mary more then I feel this was not successful... found her highly irritating and whiny as a character. However, I 3.5 starsThis book is far too long. It starts with a 200page retelling of P&P from Mary's perspective.... not sure if this was necessary and made for a slow read. Book greatly improved when it flashforwarded 2 years later and the 'new story' began. I feel the book should have started from this point and made use of small flashbacks. If the purpose of the book was to make us like Mary more then I feel this was not successful... found her highly irritating and whiny as a character. However, I really enjoyed the part of the book with the Collins' and the last couple of sections of the book was a nice homage to Austen. Overall I enjoyed it well enough but it could have been a been a much better book with a bit of careful editing.
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