Thursday, 20 March 2014

Guest Book Review: Kate Allan - Mary Bennet

Reviewed by Louise Wykes

No one who has ever seen me would suppose me a heroine. My situation in life, the character of my father and mother, indeed my own person and disposition are all against me.

Mrs Bennet is determined that all five of her daughters must marry. Mary overhears a conversation between her parents that shatters her already fragile sense of self-worth. She knows she is the least attractive of the sisters but to hear that her attempts to overcome this by being intelligent and accomplished are laughable sends her into a deep depression. 

Mary and her her sister Kitty are sent to Derbyshire so that their elder sister, Mrs Darcy, can introduce them to suitable young gentlemen. Mary is satisfied to remain a spinster and is shy with gentleman. But she does decide she should try and improve herself.

On the way to Derbyshire she meets a strange gentleman who she considers ill mannered. However she is intrigued by his knowledgeable conversation about old buildings.

On arrival at Pemberley, the home of the Darcy’s, Mary discovers that the stranger is a Mr Sharnbrook of Kent and also a house guest. Mr Sharnbrook is an amateur archaeologist and has come to Pemberley to excavate possible burial mounds as part of his studies. Mary is interested in his work and offers to help him sort out his notes. Engrossed in the work, her spirits begin to lift.

A continuation of Pride and Prejudice beginning eight months after the end of Jane Austen's novel, Mary Bennet tells the story of how the Bennet's neglected middle daughter tries to overcome the disadvantages of her character and find happiness.

Amazon links: Kindle or Paperback

As a committed Jane Austen fan and in particular, of Pride and Prejudice, I was excited at the 
prospect of reading a novel that would revisit Pemberley and all the familiar characters from the perspective of the quietest and most studious of the Bennet sisters, Mary. 

The novel opens eight months after the marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth and Mrs Bennet is still concerned that she has two unmarried daughters left, Mary and Catherine (Kitty). The story follows events from the point of view of Mary as she realises herself that it is unlikely that she is to find a suitable matrimonial partner due to her circumstances and character. With a view to trying to expand the circle of eligible bachelors they come into contact with, Lizzy issues Mary and Kitty with an invitation to Pemberley It is here that Mary’s adventures begin and she meets with the studious but stand offish Nicholas Sharnbrook. 

It was a delight to be with such familiar characters again and this is a light, enjoyable sparkling tale of the adventures that Mary has at Pemberley. 

This was a quick paced and interesting read and I enjoyed how the relationship developed between Mr Sharnbrook and Mary as she becomes his helper on his archaeological dig that he is undertaking. 

It is interesting to see how they are both socially inept but seem to bond over their intellectual 
pursuits. I did feel a little confused as a reader as Mary often states she doesn’t care about what society and others thought about her but then suddenly she is interested in her hair and how she looks. 

I think that anyone attempting to revisit such a beloved classic is very brave and on its own this is a touching love story filled with lots of drama but for me there will only be one Jane Austen. However, I would certainly read more of the author’s work as I enjoyed the light, humorous style.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for a balanced review Louise and Sharon for hosting on tour today.