Mary B

Katherine J. Chen. Random House, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-0-399-59221-8
Chen’s charming and thoroughly satisfying debut shines a light on frumpy 19-year-old Mary Bennet, the overlooked sibling of beautiful Jane, desirable Lizzy, and winsome Kitty and Lydia of Pride and Prejudice. Following social tenets, the Bennet clan is engrossed in marriage prospects, which are all but secured for the quartet but not for unattractive Mary. An intellectual, Mary finds solace among books and her own writing, believing her life could never rival her imagination. Although Mary fades into the background at social gatherings, she discovers a newfound independence that her sisters could neither appreciate nor possess: “if no one would speak to me, then I had no cause to speak to them, and my time remained my own.” Mary’s staid life changes trajectory when she is invited to Pemberley, the English estate belonging to Mr. Darcy and Lizzy after they marry, and finds her brother-in-law intrigued by her writing. She even discovers a kindred spirit in surly Colonel Fitzwilliam, Darcy’s visiting cousin, and learns there are different ways to capture a man’s attention besides appearance. Chen’s lively retelling proves that centuries after its creation, Mary’s story deserves to be told. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/14/2018
Release date: 07/24/2018
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-525-63181-1
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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