The Pursuit of Mary Bennet: A Pride and Prejudice Novel by Pamela Mingle
|The Pursuit of Mary Bennet: A Pride and Prejudice Novel by Pamela Mingle|
|Category: Historical Fiction|
|Reviewer: Louise Jones|
|Summary: This sequel to Pride and Prejudice shifts the focus to the middle Bennet sister, Mary, as she tries to find her place in the world and improve herself.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: December 2013|
|Publisher: WILLIAM MORROW|
|External links: Author's website|
Mary Bennet seems to have a serious case of 'middle child syndrome'. The third of five sisters, she has always been isolated, lacking the close bonds formed between her older and younger siblings. As a result, Mary has become bookish, withdrawn and socially awkward.
In fact, Mary hardly receives a mention in Pride and Prejudice, giving Pamela Mingle an almost clean slate with which to expand and build on her character, placing her firmly centre stage in this P&P sequel. Mary, unlike her beautiful and accomplished older sisters, is quite a flawed character, even spiteful and foolish at times, which gives the story more substance and makes the characters easier to relate to. The main romantic interest, Mr Walsh, also has his faults and secrets and as a result, the love story that ensues becomes an emotionally charged, 'will they, won’t they' tale, full of misunderstandings, false impressions, proposals and rejections, in a similar vein to the original love story between Lizzie and Darcy.
Mingle has done a wonderful job recreating these well-loved characters, who, for the most part, came across exactly as I had imagined them. I particularly enjoyed the scenes involving Lydia, the disgraced youngest Bennet sister, as she tries and fails miserably to come to terms with the loss of freedom that comes with the birth of her new baby, Felicity. Because of this, Mary forms an intensely close bond with the infant, which affects her relationship with her family and threatens to quash any prospect of marriage.
I enjoyed the story, which sticks to the tried and tested Austen formula with a sweet romance, lots of missed opportunities and of course, a perfectly happy ending. Unfortunately though, the narrative was not without its faults. One problem was that the book failed to convincingly transport me to the Regency period. The language sounded quite contemporary at times and even contained some glaring Americanisms, like someplace, diaper and even poop! Unlike Austen’s books, this one seemed to contain far too many references to children and included a rather unsettling scene where Mary puts her sister’s child to her breast, which may be off-putting to some readers. As a result, I did not find the book as engaging as I had anticipated it to be.
The Pursuit of Mary Bennet is an enjoyable, light-hearted historical romance story, but I get the impression that Mingle has set the bar rather too high for herself by writing a sequel to one of the world’s best-loved books. Die-hard Austen fans may find it somewhat lacking, but there is no denying that the book has a genuine, beating heart at its centre that may soften even the hardest of critics.
I recently reviewed the fantastic The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by Syrie James, which is the perfect example of how to write an Austen sequel. Witty, engaging and deeply romantic, I found James' style virtually indistinguishable from Ms Austen herself. A real treat.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Pursuit of Mary Bennet: A Pride and Prejudice Novel by Pamela Mingle at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Pursuit of Mary Bennet: A Pride and Prejudice Novel by Pamela Mingle at Amazon.com.
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