September 25, 2008

More to Pride and Prejudice?

I have a confession to make... I love to read anything even slightly related to Jane Austen and her novels.

I have a secret dream (maybe not so secret now) that someday a dramatic discovery of a large number of her lost novels will be found and I will not have to read and re-read her only published works over and over again - not that this is really a problem for me!

So, until that dream becomes a reality I grab onto any "sequel" or alternative Jane Austen story that comes along - and today I found a new offering.

The latest novel from a significant Australian author, Colleen McCullough - The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet. The information on the book from the publisher says:

Everyone knows the story of Elizabeth and Jane Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. But what about their sister Mary, she of the atrocious singing voice and the staidly religious bent of mind?
Master storyteller Colleen McCullough paints a life for Mary Bennet twenty years after Jane Austen's novel closes.
So far on in time, each of Mary's sisters is settled in her own way. Happily married Jane is the mother of many children; Elizabeth has to cope with an unwelcome social pre–eminence she had not envisioned; Lydia is still entranced by military officers; and Kitty is one of the stars of London's fashionable salons.
Events transpire that free Mary from her family obligations and dangle the allurements of independence before her hungry gaze. Fired with zeal by the newspaper letters of the mystery man Argus, she resolves to publish a book about the plight of England's poor. Plunging from one predicament into another, Mary embarks upon a mission of investigation that eventually leads her into mortal danger and reveals the surprising identity of Argus.
The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet is both a page–turning look at the ongoing lives of the Bennet sisters, and a sparkling romance that shows it is never too late to find love. Abounding with beloved characters in new guises as well as people we have not met before, it is funny, tragic, and eminently satisfying. This is a novel for every woman who has yearned to leave her mark upon the world – Colleen McCullough at her lively best.

I must admit I have not read anything of Colleen McCullough's before but I just couldn't say no to this story.


Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

Interesting premise for a book. I think I definitely need to read this one too. Great review.

Karen said...

Hi Holly - yes, I started this one last night and am really enjoying it so far. It is taking a very different angle to Pride and Prejudice which is very interesting!

nutmeg said...

I must admit to stumbling past this book earlier this week and seeing "Bennett" in the title but not making the connection - shame on me! I still have two Austens to read - Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey - and it's like I am keeping them at bay knowing that when they are done there is no more - woe. I have not read any "sequels/prequels" to Austen's books but I madly dash out to see any movie or miniseries concerning Austen or her works.

Like you I have not read any McCullough before - many people rave about her Rome series and I have contemplated the Thorn Birds but not got 'round to it. I hear she is quite a good writer though and you have certainly piqued (sp?) my interest. I await your final thoughts when you are finished.

Karen said...

Hi Nutmeg - definitely loving the book so far! People who are really attached to the original story and characterisation of P&P might be a little put off by this book - all is not well in "paradise" so to speak and McCullough has certainly turned the fairytale of Elizabeth and Darcy around. But I'm loving the interpretation.

LiteraryMinded said...

I have heard great things about the book actually :-)
Hi Karen - can I ask a favour while I'm here. My blog has moved and I'd love for you to update the link. Cheers!
Angela :-)

Karen said...

Thanks Angela - have updated!

vvb32 reads said...

this sounds like a nice one. glad to hear good things go to Mary as well.