Review: The Pursuit of Mary Bennet

ImageTitle: The Pursuit of Mary Bennet

Author: Pamela Mingle

Rating: ★★

Provided Synopsis: For most of her life Mary Bennet has been an object of ridicule. With a notable absence of the social graces, she has been an embarrassment to her family on more than one occasion. But lately, Mary has changed. She’s matured and attained a respectable, if somewhat unpolished, decorum. But her peace and contentment are shattered when her sister Lydia turns up-very pregnant and separated from Wickham. Mary and Kitty are bustled off to stay with Jane and her husband. It is there that Mary meets Henry Walsh, whose attentions confound her. Unschooled in the game of love, her heart and her future are at risk. Is she worthy of love or should she take the safer path? In her journey of self-acceptance, she discovers the answer.

Review: I once said in a review that no one would ever read a story about Mary Bennet because she is — to put it quite simply — not interesting. Fast-forward a few weeks and it is time for me to eat crow now that I did the thing I said I would never do. In The Pursuit of Mary Bennet, Pamela Mingle decides to flesh out Mary’s character and provide her with a future. The Mary in this story is acknowledged to lack social graces (as exhibited by the scenes in which she is present in Pride and Prejudice), but she is also reminded numerous times by her elder sisters, Jane and Elizabeth, that she has matured into someone they can admire. With relations improved with her elder sisters and her father, Mary often spends her time with the Bingleys and is allowed to flourish.

However, I still, unfortunately, must remain adamant in my opinion that Mary is not interesting. The alterations to her character did nothing for me, nor did her romance with Henry Walsh — they were cute together, but they were also incredibly generic. In this sequel to Pride and Prejudice I continued to find it difficult to reconcile the story I know so well with what other authors want to do with the characters and their futures. It never works for me to see how Elizabeth and Darcy’s marriage is faring, or to see how Lydia and Wickham are getting on. In the eyes of Mary and in the storylines that were set there was simply nothing to make me believe that this is what would, or even could, have happened. I think Jane Austen ended her story where it did, and did not develop Mary beyond the comical caricature she represents for a reason, and I guess I wish authors would abide by that.

In that regard, I should also resolve to stop reading these sequels.

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