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Book Review: "The Pursuit of Mary Bennet" by Pamela Mingle

"The Pursuit of Mary Bennet" by Pamela Mingle

It has been a trend to see historical fiction authors take the great novels of Jane Austen and create their own sequels or continuing looks at the characters. In terms of "Pride & Prejudice", it is often the star, Elizabeth Bennet focused on in these creative endeavors. Yet, Pamela Mingle tells the story of Mary Bennet, the often ignored sister of Elizabeth in her novel "The Pursuit of Mary Bennet". The least popular Bennet sister finally gets her chance to shine!

"The Pursuit of Mary Bennet" takes place a few years after the events of "Pride & Prejudice". Elizabeth and Jane are happily married, Lydia is off with her scoundrel husband, and Kitty and Mary are still at home and at odds, as always. Mary is convinced she will spend the rest of her days taking care of her parents in their advancing years as all her sisters get to experience wedded bliss and children. It's not until a visit to her sister Jane that Mary encounters Henry Walsh, a man who finds the plain and dull Mary to be attractive and charming. A friendship develops between the two and Mary begins to believe that she will find love, but Henry's past, her sister Lydia's scandal, and her own insecurities may prevent her from true happiness. "The Pursuit of Mary Bennet" gives a voice to the forgotten Bennet sister.

Mingle does an excellent job capturing the true spirit of an Austen novel. Sometimes you will think it Austen writing. Mingle gives each character a voice that is reminiscent of how they were written in "Pride & Prejudice". Elizabeth is headstrong and feisty; Jane is kind and loving; Kitty is immature and catty, and Lydia is careless and frivolous. Mingle also finally gives Mary her own voice. She has her flaws, but also great qualities and you can see why Henry Walsh has such high regard for her.

Another strong element of the novel is the relationship between Henry and Mary. It is enjoyable to watch the relationship develop, change, struggle, soar and come to an exciting conclusion. As a reader you'll understand why Henry is drawn to Mary and why Mary knows deep down that Henry is the one for her.

"The Pursuit of Mary Bennet" is a great read for any fan of "Pride & Prejudice" who want to see the saga of the Bennet sisters continued. Here's hoping that Mingle continues to write these "Pride & Prejudice" inspired novels in the future!

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