The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow

Mary Bennet is the plain middle daughter that no one ever notices. She is used to living in the shadow of her sisters. She would never be as beautiful as Jane or as witty as Lizzy, and even her younger sisters Kitty and Lydia are more attractive and lively. Mary is used to be pushed aside, never be a part of conversations, to be the one to hide at the balls. She would never impress her father and never satisfy her mother. While her sisters have deep connections and friendships, Mary is lonely and unwelcomed. She finds refuge in books and studies. She perfects herself in playing the piano and wants to study every book in Mr. Bennet’s library. No matter what she does she doesn’t seem to fit in any company. She is often awkward, shy, and afraid to be laughed at. When her sisters marry and leave Longbourn, Mary finally hopes to step out of the shadow of her prettier and popular sisters. But how can she live, when she has no fortune of her own and depends on the charity of her sisters’ husbands and her father’s heir Mr. Collins?

When her aunt and uncle, the Gardiners invite Mary to stay with them in London, she feels at ease for the first time in her life. The cheerful and kind Gardiners make Mary feel most welcome. She discovers new passions, opens up her heart to new experiences and adventures. Perhaps Mary, the plainest of the Bennet sisters will finally get her happy ending.

Yes! This book is so satisfying! While reading Pride and Prejudice we don’t get to know Mary, the middle sister much. She is plain, awkward, and embarrassed Lizzy for a couple of times. Let’s just say, she didn’t impress. However, this masterpiece by Janice Hadlow gives that shy and quiet girl a chance to tell her story. Why was she so shy, and how it was to grow up with four beautiful and perfect sister, to be reminded constantly by everyone that she is not like them and she is plain. Oh, poor Mary. The first part of the book re-tells the events of Pride and Prejudice from Mary’s perspective. However, the rest of the book is a completely new and amazing story of an ugly duckling turning into a beautiful and confident swan.

I must praise the author for keeping the Austen spirit throughout the entire novel. The prose was beautiful, and not for a minute I thought that it wasn’t written during the Regency era. I enjoyed following Mary’s development as a character, finding her confidence, and finally finding her place and her happy ending. Bravo!

Rating: 5/5

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