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The Other Bennet Sister Reviews

The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow

The Other Bennet Sister

Janice Hadlow

3.22 out of 5

4 reviews

Imprint: Mantle
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication date: 9 Jan 2020
ISBN: 9781509842025

For Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice fans everywhere, this is Mary Bennet's story.

  • The TimesHistorical Fiction Book of the Month
3 stars out of 5
Antonia Senior
18 Jan 2020

"It is a truth wearisomely acknowledged that a renowned novel in possession of earning potential must be in want of a sequel."

The second half follows events after all Mary’s sisters make their marriages. Mary bounces between her sisters’ houses, never quite wanted. She ends up at her Aunt Gardiner’s house, and two young men vie for her attention. Released from Austen’s plot and characterisation, Hadlow struggles to find her own story. A narrative about a woman’s bold attempt to find purpose outside marriage becomes a novel about whom she will marry. There is much in this debut for Austen diehards to love and I read it happily enough in a mince-pie-and-whisky haze. If you cannot name all five Bennet sisters in order of birth, this is not for you.

Reviews

3 stars out of 5
Stephanie Merritt
20 Jan 2020

"The Other Bennet Sister reads as an enjoyable kind of fanfic"

The difficulty with trying to rewrite one of the best-loved novels in the English language is that the original is always there as the gold standard. So it is in the second part of the novel, which takes place two years after the events of Pride and Prejudice, when Hadlow’s version really takes on a life of its own. Away from her family, Mary has the chance to free herself from their (and the reader’s) narrow view of her.

The Other Bennet Sister reads as an enjoyable kind of fanfic and if it feels a little pedestrian by comparison, the fact that the appeal of these characters endures in hands less deft than their original creator’s is testament to how vividly they were first drawn and the place they have established in readers’ affections.

4 stars out of 5
11 Jan 2020

"Hadlow builds an immersive and engaging new version of a familiar world"

In The Other Bennet Sister, Hadlow builds an immersive and engaging new version of a familiar world; her approach feels at once true to the source material and to life. In Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet, readers glimpse the person we might aspire to be – brilliant, beautiful, ending up with all the prizes – but in Hadlow’s Mary we recognise a more familiar figure: self-sabotaging, low on self-esteem, struggling to get through the day while others seem to sail effortlessly by. Hadlow’s great achievement is to shift our sympathies so completely that when happiness becomes a possibility for Mary, it’s difficult not to race through those final pages, desperate to know if she will, after all, be allowed – will allow herself – a happy ending.

3 stars out of 5
2 Jan 2020

"ry, one of the five impoverished Bennet sisters. Unlike her siblings, Mary is possessed of neither beauty, wit nor charm, so her prospects in the marriage market are deemed negligible. Knocked back by a first unsuitable attraction, and constant put-down"

An obvious labour of love, impeccably researched, this lifts Mary from obscurity, as she breaks out of her mother's world and follows her own path. Whether such an earnest, self-absorbed heroine merits quite such a lengthy account is with the jury.