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.
After almost nine years of writing book reviews for Historical Novels Review, I thought I’d like to share some of them here. I’ve discovered some “keeper” authors and series while writing for HNR.
Reading critically has led me to be more selective about what’s on my own bookshelves. Most of my books are adult historical fiction of one kind or another, but I also have Young Adult titles, non-fiction, and even a few children’s books that are so enchanting they deserve a place in anyone’s library. (Scuffy the Tugboat. No laughing, please.) There is a good deal of fantasy, mystery, some good reference books, and even a three-volume set of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. I’ve always been a reader as well as a writer. I was always that girl with her nose stuck in a book–and I still am. I want to share some of that fascination and excitement with others, but how do I quantify magical fairy dust? What is it about a story that can pull people into another life, another land, another century–and make them hate to leave it?
I don’t have a cookbook recipe for what makes a compelling read, but I do have some ideas–and some books to recommend that I think others will enjoy as much as I do. You should be seeing a new post every Friday morning. So welcome to my blog–I’m looking forward to taking this journey with all of you.
I’ve been writing and publishing short non-fiction under other versions of my own name since the early nineteen-eighties. I’ve had a long career in health care, which segued into some heavy years of family caregiving and the resulting aftermath. I’ve always thought that a writer needs something to write about–and being ringside for birth, death, and every other stage of the human condition certainly provides the material. I think caregiving–that nitty-grittiest of lifestyles–helps to inform whatever type of art you’re attempting–whether it is writing, drawing and painting, music, or something else.
I’ve lived across the USA in seven different states, on the American territory of Guam, and in Sweden. Currently, and I think forever, home is in New York’s mid-Hudson Valley. I share my space with a small dog, a harp, a piano, two guitars, and many, many books.