The Other Bennet Sister

Holt. Mar. 2020. 448p. ISBN 9781250129413. $28. F
DEBUT The “other Bennet sister” in this delightful semi-sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is Mary, the plain middle sister between the beautiful Jane and Lizzy and the pretty, flighty, and irresponsible Kitty and Lydia. But instead of the moralizing and slightly censorious spinster of the original, this Mary is shy and withdrawn, deeply wounded by her mother’s constant comparisons between her and her sparkling sisters. Instead of turning into a prig, Mary takes her life into her own hands as is possible for her time and finds her own way to love and happiness. This is a charming and enchanting story featuring one of the overlooked characters of a beloved classic. While the cast feels very much as remembered from the original, Mary comes into her own after being browbeaten by her overbearing mother at every turn. In adulthood she manages to find the inner fortitude to make her own path once she emerges from her family’s shadow.
VERDICT Readers with fond but not necessarily exhaustive memories of Pride and Prejudice will love this story, as will historical fiction readers looking for intelligent heroines with agency and heart who belong to their time and place without quite fitting in.
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