Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet by Colleen McCullough

Everyone knows the story of Elizabeth and Jane Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. But what about their sister Mary? At the conclusion of Jane Austen's classic novel, Mary, bookish, awkward, and by all accounts, unmarriageable, is sentenced to a dull, provincial existence in the backwaters of Britain. Now, master storyteller Colleen McCullough rescues Mary from her dreary fate with The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet, a page-turning sequel set twenty years after Austen's novel closes. The story begins as the neglected Bennet sister is released from the stultifying duty of caring for her insufferable mother. Though many would call a woman of Mary's age a spinster, she has blossomed into a beauty to rival that of her famed sisters. Her violet eyes and perfect figure bewitch the eligible men in the neighborhood, but though her family urges her to marry, romance and frippery hold no attraction. Instead, she is determined to set off on an adventure of her own. Fired with zeal by the newspaper letters of the mysterious Argus, she resolves to publish a book about the plight of England's poor. Plunging from one predicament into another, Mary finds herself stumbling closer to long-buried secrets, unanticipated dangers, and unlooked-for romance.

Meanwhile, the other dearly loved characters of Pride and Prejudice fret about the missing Mary while they contend with difficulties of their own. Darcy's political ambitions consume his ardor, and he bothers with Elizabeth only when the impropriety of her family seems to threaten his career. Lydia, wild and charming as ever, drinks and philanders her way into dire straits; Kitty, a young widow of means, occupies herself with gossip and shopping; and Jane, naïve and trusting as ever, spends her days ministering to her crop of boys and her adoring, if not entirely faithful, husband. Yet, with the shadowy and mysterious figure of DarcyÕs right-hand man, Ned Skinner, lurking at every corner, it is clear that all is not what it seems at idyllic Pemberley. As the many threads of McCulloughÕs masterful plot come together, shocking truths are revealed, love, both old and new, is tested, and all learn the value of true independence in a novel for every woman who has wanted to leave her mark on the world.

The reason I chose this book was because of one of my all time favourite books, Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. I was curious to see what happened to Miss Mary Bennet.

I was rather taken back when I was reading this book to find that the novel I have enjoyed for many years was torn apart. The romantic story of Miss Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy did not continue,, but rather the opposite.

Lizzie was unhappy in her marriage, Darcy is ambitious and controlling, Mr. Darcy's father was evil, Jane is weak and cries a lot, the list goes on......... even Charles Bingley got a bit of a rap. At least Mary went from an unassuming ugly duckling into a strong willed beautiful swan.
I had difficulty reading this book, to continue I had to divorce the two books from each other.
So I had to pretend the Bennet sisters and Mr. Darcy of Pride & Prejudice were not the characters referred to in this book, It did help that Mr. Darcy was often called Fitz.

I feel the author Colleen McCullough used the traits of each character in the novel Pride & Prejudice and showed them in a different light to write her book.

This book does have witty conversation, drama, comical moments, mystery, and murder. I might have enjoyed reading this book, if it didn't try and destroy the book I love. But then again I may not have picked it up if it wasn't for the title The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet.

At least it all ended on a good note.

I am sorry to say there is language, which I am sure Jane Austen would not be impressed with. There are a few pages with rather bad language, Please beware of pages 149/150. there is a word we don't hear often or if at all. I was rather surprised, I didn't expect any bad language.

I am not objective enough at the moment to rate this book, maybe after we discuss it at book club, I may see it in a different light.

I have been having a quick read of my old faithful Pride & Prejudice.
Now to clear my head, I think I will get myself a carton of chocolate milk and some snack food, and put on the BBC movie of Pride & Prejudice and lose myself in the romantic story for a short while and spend some time with some old friends Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy and of course (Colin Firth).

1 comment:

SamD said...

M, you are too funny sometimes! Hope you enjoyed the real P&P again.

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