I have read, and re-read, Pride and Prejudice, many times. It is my favorite book that Jane Austen wrote, although I am a huge fan of all of her work. In this book, Mary Bennet, Kate Allan uses much of the same pattern, experiences, and characters that Jane Austen created in Pride and Prejudice. It helped create a natural extension of Jane Austen’s book, and was crafted in a way, that the characters in Mary Bennet stayed true to their characters, first revealed in P&P.
Mary is the middle child, the forgotten one (so it seems), and she is quite content to be so. Why? Because she has already decided that fate has determined she will be a spinster and will not marry. While it is difficult for her parents to accept, Mary is content reading, singing, and enjoying the activities that were often limited for her male counterparts. However, rather than feel comfortable doing so, her parents and family see that if she were to only “change” and be more “girl-like” with dancing and entertaining…well, then, perhaps she may find someone to marry. Kitty is no different- in that she is also wanting to marry and while she wants love, more than anything she wants security.
I loved the storyline, how Mary and Mr. Sharnbrook become friends and to see how they both evolve over the course of the book. As in P&P, Mary also is in a bit of a triangle with Mr. Sharnbrook and Mr. Collins, and Kitty quickly becomes a little like Lydia, in attitude and choices-although not quite ( I won’t divulge). Fans of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth will absolutely love how their relationship evolves and the new adventures they embark on. With so many cameos from the P&P cast, readers will enjoy learning more about their journey, relationships, and little adventures along the way.
I appreciated Kate’s desire for Mary to be accepted for who she is and to see that everyone is meant for someone, just as they are. I also loved the research that Mr. Sharnbrook and Mary collaborate on together. It was amazing to be reminded again, how limited their resources were back in those days and how they excavated and recorded their findings. Those little tidbits were what made this book fascinating.