Happy Friday Gentle Readers. I hope that you are ready for Halloween. I understand that it will be the first night since 1944 that all three time zones in the US will have a full moon. How appropriate.
To put you in the mood for the season, I am happy to welcome debut author Jennifer Duke to Austenprose today in celebration of her first novel, Back to the Bonnet. This new novel is a time-travel reimaging of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice featuring middle sister Mary Bennet as the primary character. Mary Inherits a bonnet from a Bennet family member that has special time-travel powers that give her the advantage of moving back and forth within the story of Pride and Prejudice. Will her abilities affect the outcome of the relationships and events within the story?
Please check out the complete book description and exclusive excerpt compliments of the author. Enjoy!
Uncover the secret life of Mary Bennet and the extraordinary adventures you had no idea were hidden between the lines of Jane Austen’s classic tale.
Matrimony is not a destiny that attracts plain but clever Miss Mary Bennet.
With her family’s fortunes threatened by their own foolish mistakes, deceptive rogues and the inconvenience of male heirs to her family home, the future looks unstable, even bleak. But Mary possesses a secret weapon . . . a bonnet that allows her to travel in time.
In orchestrating events according to her own inclinations, Mary takes an unconventional route to protect her family from ruin. However, she is unprepared for the dark path down which duty and power will lead her.
The oft-forgotten of the five Bennet sisters who may have been a reader’s source of amusement or irritation, engendered pity or magnanimous sympathy comes endearingly alive in Janice Hadlow’s gentle opus to Mary, the other sister who must follow a very different path to happiness.
The Other Bennet Sister opens when Mary Bennet is a young girl happy and content with herself and her life until slowly, she becomes aware of a miserable truth. She’s plain and unattractive. Jane the pretty sister and Lizzy the witty favorite of their father’s pair off as they all get older, her father is entrenched in his library sanctum, and her mother laments Mary’s looks and hurls painful remarks to her and about her. Even her younger sisters take their cue from this to draw together and tease her when they do notice her. Mary searches for ways to please and be noticed though she works hard to avoid her mother who twits her on her looks or quiet manners.
In short, Mary is miserable and is willing to try anything even securing the interest of the bumbling and bothersome cousin Collins who has come to Longbourn in search of a wife. If she thought her homelife was misery, being overlooked by Mr. Collins even after she put her best foot forward and made a horrid spectacle of herself at the Netherfield Ball teaches her that being invisible is even worse.
Her sisters’ triumphs in being wed, a family death, and feeling at a loss sends Mary on a journey of self-discovery.
The Other Bennet Sister worked hard to be true to Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Mary’s childhood and her debut on society along with the story flowing on parallel lines fit hand in glove with the P&P story. It had a broodier Jane Eyre feel to it, but this works since it is Mary’s story. It was intriguing to see that by focusing on Mary the author shows all the familiar characters in a slightly different light. Some even get more of a stronger role like Mrs. Hill the Longbourn housekeeper who has a soft spot for neglected Mary and by Charlotte Lucas who sees Mary as sharing a similar personality and needs since they are both plain. I will offer the warning that the usual sparkling favorite characters in Pride and Prejudice to not always appear in a favorable light so be prepared to see a different interpretation to many familiar characters. Continue reading →
What is it about Mary Bennet—that pedantic, unromantic middle daughter in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice? She has less than a dozen lines of dialogue in the entire novel, but what an indelible impression she has made on centuries of readers. How could anyone forget such gems like these?
“I admire the activity of your benevolence,” observed Mary, “but every impulse of feeling should be guided by reason; and, in my opinion, exertion should always be in proportion to what is required.” Chapter 7
“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.” Chapter 47
Priggish, sanctimonious and asexual, there is nothing like a big challenge to inspire modern writers into a major makeover for her character and create a happy ending. Over the past few years, we have received a wide variety of Mary Bennet sequels, both good and bad. Pamela Mingle’s The Pursuit of Mary Bennet and Jennifer Paynter’s The Forgotten Sister land in the praise camp, while Colleen McCullough’s The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet lies somewhere between awful and atrocious. (I apologize in advance to my Victorian grandmother for speaking ill of the dead if she happens to run into the author in the afterlife.) Continue reading →
With only half a dozen speeches in Pride and Prejudice Mary Bennet still manages to make an impression. Bookish, socially awkward, and prone to moralizing, it’s hard to picture her as the heroine of a romance novel. Though I’d laugh along at her cluelessness Mary has always had my sympathy, so when I discovered Jennifer Paynter’s The Forgotten Sister: Mary Bennet’s Pride and Prejudice I couldn’t wait to read it. Would this book rescue Mary from the shadows of Pride and Prejudice? I hoped so.
The Forgotten Sister opens before the events of Pride and Prejudice, with Mary recounting her story in her own words. She begins with an admission of early worries, “For the best part of nine years–from the age of four until just before I turned thirteen–I prayed for a brother every night.” (8) By then family life is strained, but early on Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are carefree and happy. Young Jane and Elizabeth are doted on by their parents, who are optimistic there is still time to produce a male heir and secure their entailed estate. Everything changes though when Mary, a third daughter, is born. Worries set in. The Bennets begin bickering. About a month after Mary’s birth Mrs. Bennet has an attack of nerves so acute that Mary is sent away to a wet-nurse, Mrs. Bushell, with whom she stays for several years. From then on, neglect by and separation from her family become recurring patterns in Mary’s life. Continue reading →
Please join us in celebration of the new release of author Jennifer Paynter’s debut novel, The Forgotten Sister: Mary Bennet’s Pride and Prejudice, published this month by Lake Union Publishing.
Jennifer has joined us to chat about her inspiration to write her book, a revealing look at one of Jane Austen’s most misunderstood characters from Pride and Prejudice, Mary Bennet. Her publisher has generously offered a giveaway chance for a paperback or Kindle digital edition of The Forgotten Sister to three lucky winners. Just leave a comment with this blog post to enter. The contest details are listed below. Good luck to all.
What first led me to think of Mary Bennet as a possible heroine was an observation by Jane Austen scholar, John Bayley. In his memoir of his wife, British novelist Iris Murdoch, Bayley wrote that ‘the unfortunate Mary is the only one among Jane Austen’s characters who never gets a fair deal from the author at all, any more than she does from her father.’Continue reading →
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!
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. Continue reading →