(Review) The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow

Publisher and Publication Date: Henry Holt and Co. March 31, 2020.
Genre: Austenesque. Historical fiction. Women and literature.
Pages: 480.
Source: NetGalley eBook.
Audience: Readers of Jane Austen stories. Austenesque readers.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon link/the Kindle copy is $14.99/Paperback copy is $20

Link at the publishers to read more information about the book, author and an excerpt: The Other Bennet Sister.

Summary from the publisher:
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 Janice Hadlow’s The Other Bennet Sister, a debut novel with exactly the affection and authority to satisfy Jane 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.

My Thoughts:
The Other Bennet Sister is the behind the scenes story of the Bennet family, but its focus is on the life of Mary Bennet.
I don’t know if you remember? Mary Bennet is the middle sister in the Bennet family of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The older sisters are Jane and Elizabeth. The two younger sisters are Catherine and Lydia.
Mary is an overlooked, mousy character both in the book and films. She’s a character I’d not been attracted to nor had an interest in exploring. I’m ashamed.
The Other Bennet Sister is a gem. I love everything about it.

Reasons why I love this story:
~Mary is a surprising, interesting, and heroine figure in the book. She is a character that comes from behind everyone else (if you can picture a stage in your mind) and stands squarely front and center. She does come across as “uninteresting” at first. But then I began to understand how she felt about herself. She felt as if she didn’t belong in the family. She felt as if she didn’t have a role and purpose. She was a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. She wanted what we all want: to be accepted, loved, and feel connected to people. This is a huge reason why I love this story. It is easy to identify with Mary. At some point in life, we wrestle with trying to have a connection to people.
~The Other Bennet Sister is a lengthy book. I didn’t know what to expect when I began reading this story. Sometimes books explore a certain chapter in a person’s life and then the book ends. This book explores several places in Mary’s life, because of this, I felt a full scope had been given to me about Mary. I knew her as a young girl, young woman; and, how she develops in her personality, character, thinking, spirit, and life choices.
~I was given a peek at the married lives of Jane and Elizabeth. Not perfect. I’m not saying there is anything scandalizing, but their marriages were no more perfect than anyone else’s.
~The Other Bennet Sister is a strong study on people’s character (definition -the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual) and the choices they make.
~Other lesser known characters in Pride and Prejudice are revealed more. For example: Charlotte, Mr. Collins, Mrs. Bennet, and the aunt and uncle who live in London.


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