I finished The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet last night and I'm still not really sure what to make of it.
Definitely a page turner - I have not read any of Colleen McCullough's books before (probably not something a book loving Australian should admit to) so I have nothing of hers to compare the writing or style of this book to. I did have to stop comparing the book to a Jane Austen novel though because that comparison was getting me nowhere!
The premise of the book is that we now get to follow the story of Miss Mary Bennet, 20 years after the end of Pride and Prejudice. The book still however follows the stories of the other Bennet sisters and their illustrious parents and associates. I'm not even completely convinced that Mary Bennet was the focus of the story - and definitely not the Mary Bennet of Jane Austen's story!
The book follows what I thought was a really strange storyline for a "traditional" Austen sequel - kidnappings by religious sects and murder just to name a couple of examples. But maybe that is just the point - McCullough was trying to take the story beyond the traditional.
As I said before - I was completely hooked into this book and finished it quickly - but I had to suspend my belief about this being an Austen story with her traditional characters in order to do so. I would think that Jane Austen purists might have a real problem with this one!