THE PURSUIT OF MARY BENNET, by Pamela Mingle. William Morrow, 2013, 9780062274243
Six years ago I read and reviewed this novel. The review appeared in the November, 2013 issue of Historical Novels Review. As I recently shuffled through my old reviews–all 83 of them with a couple more pending–I realized that this story was one of my favorites. I purchased another copy of the book, re-read it carefully and critically, and liked it even more the second time around. I’m giving it a permanent home on my bookshelf. Here is the review:
This Regency novel is a continuation of Pride and Prejudice. It takes place a few years later, and focuses on Mary Bennet. Jane Austen portrays Mary as awkward and irritating, but now Mary has changed. She is a good sister and daughter, she has managed to polish her own rough edges, and it looks as if she will have her own chance at love and marriage. A pleasant young landowner seems interested in her and perhaps she will not be the spinster sister after all, left at home to care for her chronically unhappy parents. Jane and Lizzie, both happily married with children, are pleasant and supportive. Devious Kitty seems to be trying to snatch Mary’s suitor, and the deplorable Wickhams cause dire problems that may undermine Mary’s hopes for a happy future. Without ever stepping outside the mores of the time, Mary continues to mature, and builds herself into a strong, worthy woman as she struggles to find happiness and security for herself and those she loves.
This novel is hard to put down. As an emotionally deep story of one woman’s re-invention of herself, it is a character piece that transcends genre. Anglophiles will love the masterfully-drawn scenes of the English country settings and the elegant prose with its British voice–always difficult for an American author to get right. Highly recommended.