The Pursuit of Mary Bennet: A Pride and Prejudice Novel, Virtual Book Launch Party with Author Pamela Mingle & Giveaways

The Pursuit of Mary Bennet:  A Pride and Prejudice Novel, by Pamela Mingle (2013 )It is a pleasure to welcome author Pamela Mingle here today at Austenprose. I had the pleasure of reading her new novel The Pursuit of Mary Bennet: A Pride and Prejudice Novel months ago and was very pleased to supply the blurb in praise of this great novel. I felt it is the best continuation of Jane Austen’s character Mary Bennet so far, and I hope you will add it to must read list. Pamela has joined us today to talk about social awkwardness, something that some characters in Pride and Prejudice exhibit. Enter a chance to win a copy of this fabulous new Austenesque novel by leaving a comment. Details are listed below. Good luck to all, and congratulations to Pamela! 

Welcome Pamela!

At the JASNA AGM in Minneapolis, the phrase “socially awkward” was used several times in reference to a character in Pride and Prejudice. Mary Bennet, much on my mind these days, was surely the only person in the book who could justifiably be called socially awkward. She’s the clueless sister who frequently embarrasses her family with her actions as well as her words. Mary’s smug moralizing on the difference between pride and vanity may be why Jane Austen describes her as “pedantic” and “conceited.” And we cringe as Mary lectures Elizabeth about the dangers of a lady sullying her reputation.

I was surprised, then, that the character everyone was referring to was none other than Mr. Darcy! Arrogant, reserved, disdainful—these are all terms I would have used to describe him, but never socially awkward. He’s too refined to be termed that. Isn’t he? Early in the novel he offends Elizabeth at the assembly, and his manner continues to be insulting, even when he proposes to her. Later in the book he admits that he does not have “…the talent which some people possess…of conversing easily with those I have never seen before…” Elizabeth famously tells him he should do what she herself does in these situations. Practice.

But perhaps it was time for me to re-think Mr. Darcy. I had always believed he knew how to behave, but it suited him to play the role of wealthy, snobbish gentleman when in society. Could it be that he simply lacked some of the social graces, like Mary Bennet? Their unease manifests differently, of course, but in many ways he is as “socially awkward” as she. Mr. Darcy, afraid of meeting new people, is haughty and reserved; Mary, held up to ridicule by her family, unwittingly makes herself ludicrous through her attempts to gain attention.

Jane Austen gave Mr. Darcy his chance to redeem himself, at least in Elizabeth’s eyes. He took her criticisms to heart, and because of the power of his love for her, he changed. This is most obvious when they unexpectedly encounter each other at Pemberley. It’s as if his social muse is standing on his shoulder telling him what to say, but he can’t quite get it right. He stumbles over his words and repeats himself. There is much at stake. He knows that to win Elizabeth, he has to go beyond his comfort zone, and he finally proves, with his deft handling of Lydia’s affair, that he’s capable of doing so.

In The Pursuit of Mary Bennet, I wanted to give Mary the opportunity to change. How would her life be different if she could see herself clearly and set herself a new course? She is on her way to a different, more independent life, when she’s thrown back into self-doubt by a suitor. Like Mr. Darcy, she stumbles along the way, but perseveres. The story is as much about Mary’s pursuit of a new identity as it is a lover’s pursuit of her affections.

Thank you for visiting today Pamela. I hope that readers will enjoy this great new Mary Bennet continuation as much as I did! 

Author Pamela Mingle (2013)Author Bio:

Pamela Mingle, a former teacher and librarian, lives in Lakewood, Colorado. She is the author of Kissing Shakespeare, a time travel romance for young adults set in Elizabethan England (Delacorte Press, 2012). Pamela is a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Pikes Peak Writers, Romance Writers of America, and the Jane Austen Society of North America. She and her husband are frequent visitors to the United Kingdom, where they enjoy walking and visiting historical sites. Visit Pam at her website pammingle.com; on Facebook as Pam Mingle Author, and Twitter as @PamMingle. 

A GRAND GIVEAWAY 

Enter a chance to win one of three copies available of The Pursuit of Mary Bennet, by Pamela Mingle by leaving a comment asking Pamela a question about her inspiration, writing process or by leaving your favorite Mary Bennet quote from Pride and Prejudice. The contest is open until 11:59 pm PT, Wednesday, December 04, 2013. Winners will be announced on Thursday, December 05, 2013. Shipment to US addresses only. Good luck to all.

The Pursuit of Mary Bennet: A Pride and Prejudice Novel, by Pamela Mingle
William Morrow (2013)
Trade paperback (320) pages
ISBN: 978-0062274243

Cover image courtesy of William Morrow © 2013; text Pamela Mingle © 2013, Austenprose.com

61 thoughts on “The Pursuit of Mary Bennet: A Pride and Prejudice Novel, Virtual Book Launch Party with Author Pamela Mingle & Giveaways

  1. My favorite Mary Bennet quote … Ah, to be lectured by Mary … “Unhappy as the event must be for Lydia, we may draw from it this useful lesson: that loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable; that one false step involves her in endless ruin; that her reputation is no less brittle than it is beautiful; and that she cannot be too much guarded in her behaviour towards the undeserving of the other sex.”

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    • My husband and I go out to eat, and this usually always involves gelato! The real celebrating comes when an editor falls in love with it.

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    • For The Pursuit of Mary Bennet, the inspiration came from my love of Jane Austen’s books, esp. Pride and Prejudice. I think we all wish for more of Austen, which we can’t have! We imagine what might have happened to the characters after we closed the book. In creating a story for Mary, I hoped to recapture some of the joy, the romance, the humor, the wit of Jane Austen.

      I find if I just keep writing, even if it’s not the best, inspiration usually returns. A walk, a day in the mountains, just getting away from it for awhile helps too.

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  2. What is your process of writing? Do you find that you have to write every day? I think it woudl be great fun to find out what happens to Mary! –Kim

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    • Hi Kim! A writing routine is important for me. I like to write early in the day, preferably as soon as I’m up and have a cup of coffee or tea in my hand! Glad you’re looking forward to Mary’s story.

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  3. Mary is hilarious, but I always feel a little sorry for her. She is the butt of other’s jokes on the movie adaptations and made up to look so plain and awkward. My favorite quote:
    “Pride,” observed Mary, who piqued herself upon the solidity of her reflections, “is a very common failing, I believe. By all that I have ever read, I am convinced that it is very common indeed; that human nature is particularly prone to it, and that there are very few of us who do not cherish a feeling of self-complacency on the score of some quality or other, real or imaginary. Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.”

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  4. Hmmm, there are several books out there focusing on Mary and not all of them good. It’s true she doesn’t get much mention in P&P, so you tend to ignore her which is what most in the family do. This is a good premise though. I think most of us go through some sort of change as we grow up. Maybe Mary is just the ugly duckling and it took her longer than the others. Now to have someone pursuing her before she’s completed her transformation, he must be an interesting character. I’ll definitely be looking into this.

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  5. Poor Mary is indeed portrayed in P & P as ‘socially awkward’, and in many adaptations that gracelessness is highlighted. I look forward to reading about her maturation and ultimate blooming

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  6. “The pleasures of Brighton should have little charms for me. I should infinitely prefer a book. ” It is absolutely one of life’s truisms (at least my life).
    Congratulations and much good luck with the launch of “The Pursuit of Mary Bennett” – and thank you for this opportunity.

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    • Yes, for my life too. Though I do love the beach, part of its charm for me is relaxing in a beach chair with a good book. Thanks for your good wishes.

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  7. With so little to know about Mary from the text of Pride and Prejudice beyond her moralizing, what clues did you pull to help you as you gave dimension to her character?

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    • Hi Ann, You’re right, there is not much to go on, since Mary is only either in a scene or mentioned a dozen and a half times (approx.) I used her bookish nature and inferred from that that she had a certain curiosity and a desire to learn. Otherwise, I attributed her desire to change to the influence of her elder sisters.

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  8. I am fascinated by the thought of being interested enough in Mary Bennett to wish to write a whole story about her! And the lecture on social awkwardness does seem so appropriate for her, though I can see it relates to Mr. Darcy as well… You had already written your book when you heard that lecture, though, right? I do look forward to reading your development of Mary into a more positive individual! And my favorite quote is also the “I should infinitely prefer a book!” … and would only add, especially a Jane Austen or JAFF one!
    My best wishes to you for a great success with this book!

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  9. Mary has always been a bit of a favourite of mine, partly because she appears so clueless about her awkwardness. Why did you choose to have her experience her self doubt through a love interest and not something else?

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    • Good question, Carol! Before Mary’s suitor enters the story she has been growing in self-confidence. Her father has encouraged her reading and intellectual pursuits and she is resisting the traditional roles that her mother expects of her. But love is a new experience. It seemed natural that the old self-doubts would return. And of course I wanted my book, like Pride and Prejudice, to be first and foremost a love story!

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  10. My favorite Mary Bennet quote is when Mr. Bennet says “You have delighted us long enough. Let the other young ladies have time to exhibit.” I love his wit!

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  11. After many readings and re-readings of P&P, I’ve become a little intrigued with Mary also. I’ve always thought she would have been the perfect wife for Mr. Collins. But that’s a different story. Here’s my question–when you are writing about a character like Mary, does it take much effort to ‘recreate’ her each time you sit down to write? Or is she always present for you?
    Thanks for the chance to win this book.

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    • Hi Char–Where she is at the beginning of the story and where she ends up (her character arc) is what I really had to think about. I had to be sure each part of the book showed change in Mary that was believable based on the story actions, her own internal thoughts and feelings, and how other people are influencing her.

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  12. I have a soft spot for Mary Bennett, and I love the idea that she’s almost like a mini “Greek Chorus” in P&P in the way that she summarizes and quotes from the leading literature of the day and, quite often, provides insight that summarizes the theme of the novel. One example is in this quote which, while probably obnoxious to hear parroted at you over the breakfast table, is really quite wise considering the circumstances surrounding its delivery:

    “Pride,” observed Mary, who piqued herself upon the solidity of her reflections, “is a very common failing, I believe. By all that I have ever read, I am convinced that it is very common indeed; that human nature is particularly prone to it, and that there are very few of us who do not cherish a feeling of self-complacency on the score of some quality or other, real or imaginary. Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.”

    If only Elizabeth had listened a little more carefully!

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    • You make an excellent point, Jordan! I do see Mary’s resemblance to a Greek Chorus, and I admit I’d never thought of that before.

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  13. You are definitely Mary Bennet’s best friend, giving her a much needed make-over.

    I’m really enjoying your book, and I wondered if “Pursuit” in the title would have a double meaning. Nicely done.

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    • Hi Janet! I’m guessing most of us have made ourselves over a few times. For Mary (my Mary), it was choosing between languishing at Longbourn or taking a chance at a more fulfilling life. So glad you’re enjoying the book!

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  14. I always wondered if Mary was born right around the time her father kind of gave up on the possibility of an heir, and became the man who was always in his library, not to be disturbed. It seemed like the way she threw herself into her books and music was an attempt to overcome the innate silliness that shows itself in Kitty and Lydia, and prove herself worthy to join her elder sisters in her father’s esteem, only to become too serious and pedantic because she didn’t have the same guidance as Jane and Elizabeth in molding her character. What factors do you think helped make Mary Mary?

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    • Hi, Courtney. I think her isolation was a huge factor in Mary’s development. She was sandwiched between her two elder sisters, Jane and Elizabeth, both beautiful and confident, and the two younger, Kitty and Lydia, flirtatious and often outrageous. Not feeling a part of either set, she withdrew into her own world, as you point out. She suffered a great deal of ridicule from her family, and most likely felt unloved.

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  15. This quote from Mary Bennet is very interesting and true! “Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.”

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  16. I have always felt a little sorry for Mary,especially after seeing her portrayed in films as plain. Though her speeches may seem annoying or out of place at time, I never thought we were truly seeing the real Mary. Perhaps she hides behind her sermons because she thinks she is too plain to be noticed and protects her feelings. Mary deserves love. Does your book rewrite Mary or help her to change?

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    • Definitely, to change. I agree with you–I think Mary uses her moralizing as a way to relate to people…but not in a good way!

      Thanks for your comment.

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  17. Like others, I’ve always had a soft spot for Mary. I used the Bennet sisters as my example when I did one of those college sociology papers on birth order. Poor girl didn’t stand a chance getting the parents she did and having such older and younger sisters. I’m surprised socially awkward was all she ended up with. I’m so glad to see her getting to be a heroine and a chance to shake off the awkwardness. I look forward to reading this one.

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  18. It will be wonderful to read a continuation of Mary for she so often gets left in the corner as they say. How do you think she is in action behind the scenes supporting the story in ways that are perhaps not obvious? As a character she did much more than it might appear on the surface. Excited about the new book.

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    • I guess I’ve always seen her as more of an observer of the action going on around her. She provides comic relief, although not to the extent of Lady Katherine or Mr. Collins. Her character contrasts with that of Elizabeth, her father’s favorite, and perhaps Mary wishes she could be like Elizabeth and Jane. In The Pursuit of Mary Bennet, I’ve built on that last idea.

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  19. I love a character embracing or at least pursuing the opportunity for change. It shows growth and perseverance. As Mary stumbled along her new path (as we all do as we change habits), did you find yourself cringing? And did the cringing lessen as Mary grew into a new person?

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  20. Hooray! Thanks for telling Mary’s story – I can’t wait to read it. Why did you chose to write about her? I have seen novels about Lydia, Jane, and even Kitty, but I believe this is the first about the sister I often felt like earlier in life!

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  21. I think that if I were very honest with myself, I would have to admit I probably resemble Mary more than any of the other Bennet sisters. I’m not beautiful or exceedingly nice like Jane, I’m not as witty and outgoing as Elizabeth, I’m not as silly and heedless as Lydia, I’m not as impressionable as Kitty… but I’m shy, sometimes socially awkward, and would rather read a book or play the piano than flirt with strangers.

    So my question for Ms. Mingle is: which of the Bennet sisters do you feel you’re the most like?

    Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of your book! If I don’t win it, I’ll buy my own copy if my library doesn’t have it! Sounds very sweet.

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    • I think, when I was a young girl, I shared some of Elizabeth’s not-so-admirable qualities, like making too-hasty judgments about people and refusing to re-think my opinions. And falling for the wrong guys! But I also share Mary’s qualities–I’m definitely bookish and somewhat of an introvert. I remember going through a phase in high school when I was very self-righteous and moralistic. Oh–I don’t like remembering that girl!

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  22. It’s easy for me to make assumptions about Lizzy/Darcy and Jane/Charles and their lives after the story ends.

    Even the Lydia/Wickham duo, one without a clue and the other without a care, seems destined for one outcome only. I smile to imagine they end up with 13 unmanageable children and Wickham deaf from Lydia’s screeching.

    And with Lydia’s influence removed,some instruction from her sisters and time away from her mother, I can see Kitty finally managing to get her act together and marry a fine fellow. She’ll never be bright, but she’s not mean.

    Mary Bennet, however, hangs in my mind. She’s obviously quite intelligent. But it seems the only social skill she has is managing to dress correctly. Conservatively, but correctly. People regard her as being fairly two-dimensional, but I don’t think she is at all.

    She’s not a geek and she’s not a nerd. She’s…different. Socially awkward for sure, but it seems a little more than that. She is excruciatingly self-conscious, yet craves to be noticed. When I read about Mary I keep thinking the phrase “still waters run deep” may well apply to her. I have a sense there is something in Mary that she is fighting to keep buried. She’s like a bird locked in a cage of its own making. True, I roll my eyes at her speeches and moralizing and general talent as being obnoxious, but I also feel sorry for her.

    So instead of being handed another “poor Mary” story, I am delighted she’s finally been given what she needs to become her “real” self and move on. Bravo! I can’t wait to read how she does it. (This is sooo on my reading list.)

    Thank you, Pamela!

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  23. I’m excited about a Mary that blossoms and has a chance to love and be loved. Have you been inspired to write about any other background characters in other novels?

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  24. I am quite intrigued by your plot here. Socially Awkward. That is truth for both both Darcy and Mary. How did you come up with the idea? I look forward to reading your book and discovering how it plays out. Since you write many Young Adult fiction, would a 14 year old girl who loves Pride and Prejudice enjoy reading your book also? Is it appropriate for that age?

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  25. This novel sounds intriguing and unique. I would enjoy this book greatly as it is filled with wonderful characters and simply delightful. Your talent is to be admired and envied.

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  26. I can’t think of any Mary Bennet quotes. I think it was Kitty who coughed and it annoyed her mother. Maybe Kitty had allergies! My allergies make me cough.

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  27. My favorite Mary Bennet quote is definitely, ‘I should infinitely prefer a book. ” I’m looking forward to seeing the growth and change in Mary in your book. I would like to know if you begin writing with a plot already outlined from start to finish, or if you begin with the character and an idea and see how it flows from there. (Yes, it’s the old, “plotter-or-pantser question.:) I’m looking forward to reading this — thanks for offering the chance to win it!

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  28. I am very intrigued! Mary is a character I never thought would deepen and develop. I often wondered why she seemed “written off” and left for spinsterhood. I would love to read your book!

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  29. I love coming across variations that develop Mary’s character. I look forward to reading your spin. Thank you for the giveaway.

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  30. Pingback: Giveaway Winners Announced for The Pursuit of Mary Bennet | Austenprose - A Jane Austen Blog

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