For fans of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Janice Hadlow's The Other Bennet Sister tells Mary's story...
It is a sad fact of life that if a young woman is unlucky enough to come into the world without expectations, she had better do all she can to ensure she is born beautiful. To be handsome and poor is misfortune enough; but to be both plain and penniless is a hard fate indeed.
In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Mary is the middle of the five Bennet girls and the plainest of them all, so what hope does she have? Prim and pious, with no redeeming features, she is unloved and seemingly unlovable.
The Other Bennet Sister, though, shows another side to Mary. An introvert in a family of extroverts; a constant disappointment to her mother who values beauty above all else; fearful of her father's sharp tongue; with little in common with her siblings - is it any wonder she turns to books for both company and guidance? And, if she finds her life lonely or lacking, that she determines to try harder at the one thing she can be: right.
One by one, her sisters marry - Jane and Lizzy for love; Lydia for some semblance of respectability - but Mary, it seems, is destined to remain single and live out her life at Longbourn, at least until her father dies and the house is bequeathed to the reviled Mr Collins.
But when that fateful day finally comes, she slowly discovers that perhaps there is hope for her, after all.
Simultaneously a wonderfully warm homage to Jane Austen and a delightful new story in its own right, Janice Hadlow's The Other Bennet Sister is, at its heart, a life-affirming tale of a young woman finding her place in the world. Witty and uplifting, it will make you feel - and cheer - for Mary as you never have before.
Equal to the best Austen spin-offs, including Jo Baker's Longbourn, this will delight Janeites as well as lovers of nuanced female coming-of-age tales -- <i>Publishers Weekly</i>, starred review Vivid and convincing * Sydney Morning Herald * Entertaining and thoroughly engrossing * Kirkus starred review * A wonderful, absorbing, accomplished book. I loved it -- Stephanie Butland, author of <i>Lost for Words </i>and <i>The Woman in the Photograph</i> Impeccably researched, this lifts Mary from obscurity, as she breaks out of her mother's world and follows her own path * Daily Mail * Puts Mary front and centre stage exploring why she was so heartbreakingly sidelined by Mrs Bennet and gives humour and sensitivity to the most overlooked of the sisters * Stylist magazine - best books of 2020 * Jane fans rejoice! I loved this thoroughly estimable, worthy homage to Austen. Exceptional storytelling and a true delight -- Helen Simonson, author of <i>Major Pettigrew's Last Stand </i>and <i>The Summer Before the War</i> Fans will need no persuasion . . . Worthy of any Austen heroine * Metro * I absolutely love this novel - as will any young woman who has felt herself plain, shy, bookish and crushed -- Amanda Craig, author of <i>The Lie of the Land</i> and <i>The Golden Rule</i> This gorgeous book pays homage to Pride and Prejudice - and follows Mary Bennet, the overlooked middle Bennet sister. It's a wonderfully warm, comforting read - perfect on a winter's night * The Sun * It's difficult not to race through those final pages -- Jo Baker, author of <i>LongBourn </i>and <i>The Body Lies</i> Immersive and engaging * Guardian * Janice Hadlow has dusted down Mary, the ugly Bennet sister, and fashioned her into a heroine that even Miss Austen would approve of. A treat -- Daisy Goodwin, author of <i>Victoria </i>and <i>The Fortune Hunter</i> [A] novel that will delight Pride and Prejudice fans * Independent *