Readers of Pride and Prejudice will remember that there were five Bennet sisters. Now, 20 years on, Jane has a happy marriage and large family; Lizzy and Mr. Darcy now have a formidable social reputation; Lydia has a reputation of quite another kind; Kitty is much in demand in London's parlors and ballrooms; but what of Mary?
Mary is quietly celebrating her independence, having nursed her ailing mother for many years. She decides to write a book to bring the plight of the poor to everyone's attention. But with more resolve than experience, as she sets out to travel around the country, it's not only her family who are concerned about her....
©2008 Colleen McCullough; (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks America
I have read all of the Jane Austen stories and was excited to listen to this one, it started a little slow and not very warm. I was not to thrilled with the Darcy debuacle and at one point thought possible homosexuality within the novel but as the story winds down everything comes to light. It was not a bad story but it was not a great 'Austen' story either. The priest and his slaves in the caves was wayout in left field along with a couple other things. I could take it or leave it.
This is just a silly book. I though perhaps it would be a tale of a woman finding independence in early 1800s England. But no, there was a demented monk with child slaves, hidden gold, secret half brothers, it was just a silly book that got sillier as the reading went on. Save your money.
An interesting exploration of life after "Happily Ever After" for the beloved Bennet sisters. However, prepare yourselves for a Mr. Darcy who practically twirls his mustache with schemes and maliciousness in the first half of the story. The plot has many odd twists and turns more consistent with Harlequin romantic fantasy than Austen's world of social realism. The characterization of Mary Bennet as keener and more sensible than her sisters is difficult to reconcile with the ridiculous predicaments she gets herself into. It can be summed up as an interesting, even satisfying, story that happens to have some familiar names.
Mark Twain said in effect, a library without a single Austen volume was well on its way to greatness. So what do we do? We invent even more Austen books such as this one. I am of two minds about Austen completions and Austen knock-offs. As a sucker for anything Austen, I have read Sanditon, Charlotte, and The Watsons and Emma Watson as well as a number of books which carry Austen's stories into the future such as this one. At times, it appears that some of these authors are arrogant and have a disdainful superiority to Miss Austen. After wavering back and forth, I finally concluded that even these authors are in a way, paying their respects.
Separately from the Jane Austen characters, this is an interesting book. I was a bit put off by changes in Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy's relationship as well as the use in places, of coarseness in language, thought and deed which would not have been alluded to by Austen. I certainly don't like the way Mr. Darcy's father was thrown under the bus. In addition, there is the Feminazi attitude toward men which is unattractive. Other than that, this book fairly gallops full out from start to finish and is full of plot twists and surprises. The young Mary Bennet was an awful bore always quoting some threadbare wisdom at inappropriate moments. This older Mary Bennet has been knocked about a bit and spent the intervening years in self-denying care for her mother, extensive readings from a large library and in reflections. This Mary is much improved and admirable. The author invents a back story to (a history before) Pride and Prejudice which together with the original book inform this work. There is cold blooded murder, kidnapping, a religious cult, several tons of gold, thievery, lawlessness...definitely far from Pemberley but almost touching Pemberley.
It was well-spent in that it satisfied my curiosity about the book, but the plot was a bit over the top for me.
She did a very good job differentiating the characters with accents and tone of voice. Unfortunately, the tone she gave to Mary Bennet made her sound like a woman in her 60's or 70's instead of a woman in her late 30's.
No, the over-the-top melodramatic plot was blech.
If you have grand romantic notions about the marriage between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, this novel will squash them.
It may be hard to follow in Jane Austen's footsteps, however Colleen McCullough has done a wonderful job in this novel. I hated to see this book end. If you love Pride and Prejudice you will enjoy this book. It was well narrated too, easy to follow her characters. I highly recommend this book!
Very disappointed in this book...it was offered on sale and I can guess why. Shocked that someone of McCullough's reputation would put her name on this...perhaps a student of hers wrote it? To piggyback on one of Austen's great novels and to do it in such a shlock way should be embarrassing to the author and publisher.
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