Saturday, April 24, 2010

Review: The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet

Title: The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet
Author: Colleen McCullough
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 978 0 7322 8724 5
Category: historical fiction, pastiche
Rating: M for adult themes

I'm an unashamed Austenite. So an Australian author, writing a Pride and Prejudice sequel should be good right? Wrong!

I picked this book up thinking that it would be a way for my sick self to pass some time over this weekend. I only got fifteen pages in when I knew this book was not for me. This was the quote where I knew this would not end well:

It was a vile thing, he thought, to marry beneath one's station, no matter how great the love or how tormenting the urge toconsummate that love. And it had not been worth the pain.

I'm sorry, but has McCullough read Pride and Prejudice? I get that this is a sequel to the original, but within fifteen pages there are two character assassinations. Firstly, Darcy is this man who married Lizzy (it is implied) because he wanted to get his rocks off, and secondly Lizzy comes across as this woman who is so unhappy with her husband - but will not tell him. Lizzy Bennet would never hold her tongue where Darcy was concerned. She told him what she thought of him when they were not attached - do you actually believe that when she was married to him and safe in their union she would hold her tongue?

Also, Darcy has everyone, everyone, call him Fitz. Yeah.

So the main story is not about Lizzy and Darcy - and quite frankly I wish she just would have killed them off - but about Mary Bennet. Let me break this down into fan fiction terms: Mary is quite literally a Mary Sue, Lizzy and Darcy are OOC and this book is DNW.

Mary writes a treatise on the poor and then travels around being all feminist and shite. Her ideals clash with Fitz's (I shall call him that because he doesn't deserve to be called Darcy), and meets some radical Scotsman who backs her up - DUN DUN DUN. There is a stupid plotline with Darcy's dad, as well. It is so, so bad. It isn't historically accurate at all, either.

I was about to spoil the ending, but you might want to read this. I think McCullough needs to stick with dirty bird priests and leave the sequels to those who can bring depth to Austen's characters - not make them totally unrecognisable.

1 out of 5.


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