The Other Bennet Sister

The Other Bennet Sister

A Novel

Book - 2020
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"What if Mary Bennet's life took a different path from that laid out for her in Pride and Prejudice? What if the frustrated intellectual of the Bennet family, the marginalized middle daughter, the plain girl who takes refuge in her books, eventually found the fulfillment enjoyed by her prettier, more confident sisters? This is the plot of The Other Bennet Sister, a debut novel with exactly the affection and authority to satisfy Austen fans. Ultimately, Mary's journey is like that taken by every Austen heroine. She learns that she can only expect joy when she has accepted who she really is. She must throw off the false expectations and wrong ideas that have combined to obscure her true nature and prevented her from what makes her happy. Only when she undergoes this evolution does she have a chance at finding fulfillment; only then does she have the clarity to recognize her partner when he presents himself--and only at that moment is she genuinely worthy of love. Mary's destiny diverges from that of her sisters. It does not involve broad acres or landed gentry. But it does include a man; and, as in all Austen novels, Mary must decide whether he is the truly the one for her. In The Other Bennet Sister, Mary is a fully rounded character--complex, conflicted, and often uncertain; but also vulnerable, supremely sympathetic, and ultimately the protagonist of an uncommonly satisfying debut novel"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, New York :, Henry Holt and Company,, 2020
Edition: First U.S. edition
Copyright Date: ©2020
ISBN: 9781250129413
Characteristics: 463 pages ; 25 cm


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Nov 21, 2020

Mary Bennet. Plain. Ignored. Unloved. A pebble lost amongst shining stars, Mary buries herself in books to seek the key to happiness. Some time after P&P ends, all of Mary’s sisters marry and she alone remains at Longbourn, but when her father suddenly dies, to whom shall this penniless girl turn? ⁣

I will not say that Jane Austen has returned to life because that would be sacrilegious. However I will say that this book is my favorite of the year and even the author of Pride and Prejudice would be proud of our ugly duckling. The Other Bennet Sister mirrors P&P in so many ways, whether through paraphrasing, matching scenes, or overarching structure, but Mary also manages to grow much more than Lizzy does, probably precisely because she once had so much less. ⁣

Janice Harlow is a historian and it shows. It is evident in the smallest details—the authors mentioned in passing, quotations incorporated into the dialogues, and situational ironies that made me chuckle. Her words were also a sensual pleasure to behold: I inundated in every single intellectual exchange, exuberated in every psychological growth, and swooned at every step closer to our ultimately Austenian ending. ⁣

There are so many aspects of this novel that I would like to discuss, but I especially admired Mary’s struggles between freedom and propriety as well as rationality and sentimentality. They come in the form of a choice between two men and the quiet observation of many familial dynamics, but ultimately, Mary is able to overcome her worst fears and determine her own future. At its closure, the beginning of the book already feels lightyears away, which speaks for both Mary’s progress and the author’s success in its depiction. ⁣

My words pale in the utter wonder of this work. Highly, highly recommend to anyone who has ever enjoyed Pride and Prejudice.⁣

For more book and movie analyses, visit me on Instagram @ RandomStuffIRead :)

IndyPL_AngieL Nov 17, 2020

“The Other Bennet Sister” by Janice Hadlow is the story of Mary, the middle sister from Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” Mary has the misfortune to be born without the wit and beauty of her other four sisters, and so earns her mother’s scorn and her father’s indifference. The two elder Bennet sisters, while kind to Mary in their own way, are sometimes her allies but certainly don’t go out of their way to look after their younger sibling. And the two youngest sisters are simply cruel to Mary. Without anyone to direct her, the floundering Mary begins to follow her sometimes misguided heart…frequently with disastrous outcomes, but often with very good results. And as she learns to trust her own instincts, Mary grows into a truly strong, confident young woman!

Sep 22, 2020

I love Jane Austen, but I struggled with this adaptation. Great idea, but it was so relentlessly sad for so long that I skimmed quite a bit.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Sep 09, 2020

I've always wanted Mary Bennet to get to be the center of the story. I've been disappointed with previously published works that have attempted it. This time I was not disappointed. It was lovely...with elements that will appeal to Janeites AND without making modern feminists cringe. So much fun.

Sep 09, 2020

The middle child of the Bennet clan comes alive in this brilliant re-imagining of Jane Austen's beloved classic, 'Pride and Prejudice'! Janice Hadlow provides Mary Bennet a story that is both heart-breaking and beautiful, and I could not put the book down, finishing all 450+ pages in two days!

I know many people disliked that Hadlow recovered the events of P&P in the early parts of the book, but I did not mind it. She did not go into too much detail, saddling us with a blow-by-blow recount of the original novel, but rather took specific events within the story and allowed Mary herself to witness and take part in them, with her own views and impressions. We see the Netherfield Ball from her point of view, as well as Charlotte Lucas' engagement to Mr. Collins. So really, the events of P&P (not to mention the first part of the story which gives us a heart-wrenching view of Mary's childhood *before* P&P) wrap up within the first 100 pages. Really, I think it was necessary to include the events of the novel (and what came before), if only to establish Mary's character and just what she endured as the middle sister and, essentially, least-loved of the five girls. The results of this retelling are heartbreaking. I was reduced to tears more than once.

'The Other Bennet Sister' is perhaps one of the best P&P pastiches I have ever read (and I've read quite a few over the years). In focusing on a character other than Elizabeth, we are given new and fascinating insight to the characters of the novel, and a closer, deeper look into the dynamics that bound the characters. The Bennet family shines in a whole new light in this book, one that is not entirely to their credit. We see the end result of decisions the characters made in the novel, and the consequences of them. The final result of all of this is a fascinating, brilliant book. Definitely worth the time of any P&P fan.

Aug 18, 2020

This was absolutely charming.

Aug 17, 2020

I gave this book a 3 because it started out quick paced which is what I like, then it started dragging out the limited story line and bless her heart (the main character) nobody is that dumb. I think she was supposed to appear naive but that’s not how I saw her.

Aug 06, 2020

In the sea of Austen spin-offs, this stands out for several reasons. Firstly, the reader is not forced to re-live P&P (those situations are only referenced briefly). Secondly, while consistent with the original, Mary changes from the rather flat character (can anyone truly be a flat character?) into a sympathetic one who captured my interest. Finally, throughout are many important messages about self-realization and the treatment of others that resonates strongly today. Much better than I was anticipating.

TSCPL_JulieN Jul 09, 2020

Poor bespectacled Mary Bennet - is it any wonder she is priggishness personified when her four lively attractive sisters ignore her and her own mother mocks her? Janice Hadlow drags Mary from her books and music and puts her center stage in The Other Bennet Sister. Warmly humanizing the plain jane middle sister, Mary is characterized as an intellectually curious young woman who wishes to be loved for herself. With a little help from some unexpected friends (looking at you, Mr. Collins!) and a bit of meddling from an old enemy (oh Caroline Bingham, your insults are so deliciously evil!) Mary may just find her own happily-ever-after.

Apr 19, 2020

I knew I’d never match the other vivacious, beautiful sisters in Pride and Prejudice. My identity was much closer to the bookish Mary. Not that my mother ever scorned me because I needed eye spectacles, but because if left to my own entertainment, I’d much rather be reading and learning than to participate in social chitchat. I spent the first half of the book watching Mary and worrying about her choices, knowing they weren’t in her best interests. Halfway through the book, with the support of her mother’s sister in London, Mary came into her own and, of course, all ended well. Well written in the style of Jane Austin, it doesn’t quite have the social satire Austin’s writings emit, but still it’s a good story about the forgotten Bennet sister.

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