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The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet [Hardcover]

Colleen McCullough
2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Sep 2008

Lizzy Bennet married Mr Darcy, Jane Bennet married Mr Bingley – but what became of the middle daughter, Mary? Discover what came next in the lives and loves of Jane Austen’s much loved Bennet family in this Pride and Prejudice spin-off from an international bestselling author

Readers of Pride and Prejudice will remember that there were five Bennet sisters. Now, twenty years on, Jane has a happy marriage and large family; Lizzy and Mr Darcy now have a formidable social reputation; Lydia has a reputation of quite another kind; Kitty is much in demand in London’s parlours and ballrooms; but what of Mary?

Mary is quietly celebrating her independence, having nursed her ailing mother for many years. She decides to write a book to bring the plight of the poor to everyone’s attention. But with more resolve than experience, as she sets out to travel around the country, it’s not only her family who are concerned about her. Marriage may be far from her mind, but what if she were to meet the one man whose own fiery articles infuriate the politicians and industrialists? And if when she starts to ask similar questions, she unwittingly places herself in great danger?

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (1 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007271832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007271832
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.6 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,029,903 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Praise for Antony and Cleopatra:

‘An irresistible read’
Daily Mail

‘Full of passion, greed, intrigue and betrayal…a thoroughly entertaining read’
Glasgow Herald

Praise for Colleen McCullough:

‘Fast-moving and immensely readable…this book is a page turner from start to finish’ Maeve Binchy

'McCullough piles on the drama' Daily Mail

'Absorbing’ Sunday Telegraph

'Compelling, passionate and gritty' She

'Deliciously addictive…a classic tale of wealth and power–an engrossing read' Sainsbury's magazine

About the Author

Colleen McCullough, a neuroscientist by training, worked in various Sydney and English hospitals before settling into 10 years of research and teaching in the Department of Neurology at the Yale Medical School in the USA. In 1974 her first novel, ‘Tim’ was published in New York, followed by ‘The Thorn Birds’ in 1977 and a string of successful novels, including the Masters of Rome series. She lives in Norfolk Island, with her husband, Ric Robinson, and a cat named Shady.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor Jane 2 Feb 2009
The shades of Pemberley are turning in their graves. This is definitely not a book for Austen fans. Mr. Darcy, sadly reduced to a mere 'Fitz,' is now the son of a whoremonger and the wealth of Pemberly is all due to below-the-belt dealings of his not so noble father.

The book is a take off on the Gothic novels Jane Austen hated and lampooned in Northanger Abby. It bears not the least resemblance to Jane Austen's work.

In this sad sequel Elisabeth is frigid, Jane is serially pregnant, Kitty is a merry widow and Lydia a drunken floozy. That leaves Mary, suddenly transformed into raving beauty at age 38. She survives all her mishaps and misfortunes to fall into the arms of a rich and handsome man and wastes no time loosening her corset stays to make love on the drawing room floor.

This is Sex and the City circa 1820. If it hadn't been written by a big name hasbeen it would have landed in any third-rate publisher's slush pile. Newswoman.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a sequel, just a bad novel 8 Mar 2009
Calling this book a sequel is misleading. In a sequel one expects to meet the characters from the original story, while this book is a wild historical pulp fiction with a distorted Pride and Prejudice retelling enhanced.

I will not say that McCullough hasn't understood the original, because I highly doubt she ever read it. Her image of the characters and plot seems to have come rather from one of the various movie adaptations.

Her Darcy and Elizabeth never lived through Pride and Prejudice, never learnt the lessons they had to learn, and they aren't even the two people who they were at any point of the original story. McCullough created two monsters in a love-hate relationship who have to learn their lessons anew. Clearly lacking any genuine idea for the couple she just retold Austen's plot in a manner devoid of style, creativity and purpose.

Mary Bennet is a Mary Sue in it, and one wonders if McCullough can create non-cliché characters at all. She seems to be repeating popular calques and merging them with her own from her previous novels. Far too little to call it a good writing.

I'm surprised that this historical romance is advertised as well-researched. Having studied the Regency era for years I was dismayed at the great number of mistakes. McCullough has little idea about anything - from travel speed to money value. However, her Regency facts estimations were the only moments that I found truly hilarious in this book, so they're very much appreciated so that Austen fans could have a good laugh at the author's ignorance.

The story was silly and boring. Unless you're a fan of Australian soap operas it's not a book for you.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars No stars - God-awful drivel. 7 May 2009
I'll admit that the idea of the story intrigued me which is why I decided to give this book a chance despite the awful reviews. Oh really is shockingly bad. Poorly written, ridiculous plot and generally absolute nonsense. If this had been written by a first time author I doubt it would even have found a publisher, it really is that atrocious.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful drivel 21 April 2009
By Cathy G
Unfortunately, no stars is not an option or that's what I would have awarded. The author has obviously never read the original "Pride & Prejudice". Most of the characters, main and peripheral, are completely unrecognisable from their P&P incarnation. For Darcy ("Fitz"??!!) and Elizabeth, it's as if P&P never happened - they're back prideful and prejudiced. The errors with the other characters are legion - the story relating to Darcy's father is ridiculous.

Ignoring the P&P aspect, this is still an awful novel - the dependence on coincidence to prop up the plot is unforgiveable. I'm not a Regency expert but even I could spot flaws with the language and the concepts.

Avoid at all costs. Your time would be better spent re-reading the original and the best.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Such a disappointment 3 Aug 2012
Having read a few "Pride and Prejudice" spin offs by other authors, I was interested to find something that gave us an account of Mary. Unfortunately I only lasted for 2-3 pages. To suggest that Mr Darcy (a man of breeding) would think such things about his mother-in-law (even though she was very silly) and that his and Elizabeth's marriage had deteriorated so much - I just couldn't read any more.

I gave it 1 star because there is no half star!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars `Oh, how much longer?' 7 April 2010
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER
Of the five Bennet sisters in `Pride and Prejudice', Mary is perhaps the least visible: considered plain and with `neither genius nor taste'. In this novel, Ms McCullough makes Mary her heroine and describes a life which becomes interesting, to say the least. Two decades after the events described in `Pride and Prejudice', Mary has spent seventeen years caring for her widowed mother in a remote house, Shelby Manor, which happens to have an extensive library which Mary has plenty of time to read.

Mrs Bennet dies, conveniently, on page 2 of the novel and Mary, now aged 38, is offered a home either with the Darcys at Pemberley or with the Bingleys. Mary refuses either offer, and decides that: `I will journey to see England's ills, write my book and pay to have it published.' Mary ants to entitle her book `The Ills of England' and plans to visit `orphanages, factories, poorhouses, mines ..a thousand-and-one places where our own English people live in impoverishment.'
Thus begins the story proper, with Mary setting out on a public stagecoach. Her adventures see her plunging from one predicament to another. At the same time, we see aspects of the lives of the other Bennet sisters: aspects of this depiction may please some Jane Austen fans, but not others.

I found the fast moving adventures of Mary entertaining at times, implausible at others. The biggest problem for me was that I could not really relate to Ms McCullough's depiction of most of Jane Austen's characters. They were not as I would envisage them twenty years after `Pride and Prejudice'. Still, I liked the idea of the adoption of Mary Bennet as a heroine and while I didn't much care for the direction of Ms McCullough's sequel, I suspect I would have enjoyed the story had it not involved characters who have been a part of my life for over forty years.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
Well written. Up to Colleen McCullough,s usual high standard. Characters all well developed. If you liked the original Jane Austin, this is one to enjoy!
Published 2 months ago by gill russell
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing
I have loved Ms McCullough books on Ancient Rome, so was excited to see she had written "a sequel" to Pride and Prejudice, especially as the heroine was Mary Bennet. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Christine ONeill
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bennet saga continues
A bit contrived ending but overall a very good read. I never tire of Mrs Bennet etc, however she does die in the first chapter and then Mary picks up on life and love. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Christine Davies
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read
I love Colleen McCulloughs writing, so naturally I loved the book and the way she wrote the story, though I don't believe the original author would share my sentiments at all. Read more
Published 9 months ago by C. A. Chugg
4.0 out of 5 stars Oh Mary
would she have developed this way? I wonder, she did seem very narrow minded in the original P & P. However, I did enjoy the book very much
Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars talented author, great read
Colleen McCullough is an excellent writer and I always enjoy her work. Her imagination and skill make this a very worthwhile read.
Published 11 months ago by travelreader
3.0 out of 5 stars So bad it's good
I bought this book waiting for a plane before going on holiday - one of those Austen geeks who can't resist - it certainly made for interesting holiday reading! Read more
Published 18 months ago by Glasgow
5.0 out of 5 stars Really liked this
I was recommended this book on one of my nightshifts and got it to read. I enjoyed reading this about the poor sister that was left to look after the aged parents while her sisters... Read more
Published 19 months ago by The Book Squirrel
5.0 out of 5 stars funny and exciting
I was put off reading this for a long time because of all the negative reviews, but i'm SO happy i read it! Read more
Published 22 months ago by D. White
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and Dull
Whilst this book might be called a sequel it clearly isn't. Darcy and Elizabeth are still in contact with Jane and Bingley and Darcy still doesn't want to know about Lydia (who's... Read more
Published on 30 Aug 2011 by Ms. J. K. Moore
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