Sourcebooks Landmark (October 1, 2009) ~ 368 pages
Fiction / Jane Austen Spin-off
Edition Reviewed: Advanced Reader Edition ~ Many thanks to Sourcebooks for sending me a copy of the book for review.
Perfect for : Personal reading, book club read
My Thoughts: This is another fun follow-up story to Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice (one of my favorite books). One thing I particularly liked about this book, is that Eucharista Ward O.S.F. took a character that I think was really overlooked in the original Pride and Prejudice and focused on her character and development in this book.
For me, the first few chapters were a little slow, as they focused on so many little details while developing Mary's character (yes, this IS needed, just made it a tad slow for me), but soon after, the book started to pick up. It was nice to watch Mary transform from her almost singular focus on improving her mind through the pursuit of reading and music, to a more well-rounded young woman.
Initially set on living a solitary life, she meets two very eligible young men who both show an interest in her. The first is Stephen Oliver, who has come to the local area to become the vicar of Kympton. He has a love of books and initially seems to be the perfect match for Mary, who thinks he would be perfect for Kitty. Next, we are introduced to James Stilton, who enjoys music and who seems to be just a little shady.
While being encouraged to accept an expected marriage proposal (that Mary does not desire) by her mother, and simultaneously being told to reject the proposal by her father, Mary is ultimately given her freedom in a very unexpected manner. . . with the help of Mr. Oliver and Darcy!
One thing I particularly liked was that while Mr. Collins turned the Bennett family (or at least some members) against Lydia and the poor choices she made by asking them to consider her as though she were dead, Mr. Oliver tried to open Mary's eyes to the fact that Lydia's life had most likely not turned out as she had expected, and that she should be embraced by the family. He also helped her to see a few other people in a different light as well, which I found to be refreshing and in turn, helped Mary to grow as an individual.
Another fun perk of reading this book - we got to catch up with Darcy and Elizabeth as they welcomed a new addition to their family, Jane and Bingley, Georgiana, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, et al. About the only thing that I will add is that in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice we came to know and love Kitty as "Kitty," not as Catherine as she is referred to in this book. I kept reading about Catherine and trying to place her among everyone. After a few chapters, it became easier to remember that Catherine is really Kitty.
From the Publisher:
A unique and inspirational Pride and Prejudice sequel that will resonate with all readers who can relate to Mary Bennet's determination to live according to God's wishesAbout the Author: (From the book)
Written by a Franciscan nun, this is a sympathetic tale of the middle Bennet sister from Pride and Prejudice. Pious Mary Bennet tries to do her duty in the world as she thinks God envisions it.
Initially believing (mistakenly) that her sister Elizabeth married well only in order to provide for her sisters, Mary is happy to be relieved of the obligation to marry at all so that she can continue her faithful works.
But she begins to have second thoughts after further studying marriage through her sisters' experiences as well as spending time with two young men. One is a splendid young buck whose determined courtship must have ulterior motives; the other is a kindly, serious young clergyman whose friendship Mary values more and more. One day she realizes that God very much made man and woman to be together...but which is the man for her?
Eucharista Ward is a Sister in the order of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio, with an MA in English. After retiring from teaching she became a licensed nurse's aid and currently works nights in an assisted living residence, where—to pass the time—she writes sequels to Jane Austen's beloved novels.
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