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The Forgotten Sister: Mary Bennet's Pride and Prejudice Paperback – Import, 14 Jan 2014
MP3 CD, Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged
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About the Author
Jennifer Paynter is the author of the plays God's People, Balancing Act, and When Are We Going to Manly?, the last being nominated for a Sydney Theatre Critics' Circle Award and the NSW Premiere's Literary Award. Her plays have been produced in Sydney and Canberra and for ABC Radio, and her short story "The Sad Heart of Ruth" is an ABC Bicentennial Award winner. The Sydney Morning Herald hails the Australian edition of The Forgotten Sister as an "impressive literary achievement and a delightful read," and the Brisbane Courier Mail says it "succeeds in inviting us back into the world of Longbourn and the Bennet family and their preoccupation with marriage, money and social class." Paynter lives in Australia with her family.
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Mary's story, of course, is at the forefront. This book is told in the first person, and follows her from her childhood at Longborn, through new friendships in Bath and Meryton, and even delves into the world "down under". Her personal journey is an identifiable one, and was well worth my time. What I think is really telling, however, is how well Mary's voice made me reevaluate some, if you'll excuse the term, universally acknowledged truths about the Bennett clan. The reason we all read P&P repeatedly, and look for fan fiction, or read sequels, is because the characters of Elizabeth and Darcy are so enjoyable. However, in watching Elizabeth's actions from Mary's perspective, the author makes you question some of your preconceived notions on Elizabeth, and at times (ok, many times), I really didn't like her! Her actions were no different than Austen's Elizabeth, but this change of POV reminds you that reality is often in the eye of the beholder. Afterall, while Elizabeth may bask in the joy of her close relationships with her sister Jane and her father, how does that effect the rest of the family?
Overall, I found this very enjoyable and a refreshing change on the P&P novels widely distributed on Amazon. If I were able (if Amazon let me do halves), I'd be giving this 4.5 stars instead of 5, simply because there were a few places that I felt things starting to drag a little bit, particularly when the events started overlapping events from the original story. Nothing overly tedious, and these parts were still good, they just made things move a little slower than I like. Still, I was very pleased with Mary's story and was very happy that she found her not-so-traditional happy ending.
It is quite long and detailed, and for that reason it might not appeal to everyone, but I was completely engrossed. It is also told in the first person point-of-view, not everyone's favorite, but the author does a great job. There is great sensitivity and insight on every page as we learn what makes Mary tick. At times I found her hypersensitivity an annoyance, but it is true to canon, and there are clever details: how Mary came to speak in platitudes, the roots of her social isolation; even a bout of melancholia is aptly described; and it all makes sense against the gently and subtly portrayed background of the original story.
There are "extras" in the original story who have major parts in this telling, and there are new personalities. And everything fits together well and is told in a fascinating way that kept me engaged the whole way through.
If you enjoy continuations featuring the lesser characters of Austen's novels, you will love this. I am particularly fond of Mary Bennet retellings, and this one did not disappoint.
trash the rest of the family just to give Mary an excuse to be a pain in the butt. It is true that this period would be a nightmare
for a modern woman, but these women had known from birth what was expected from them In life. It might have helped if
some of the humor of an Austin novel had made it in.