Mary B by Katherine J. Chen
Die-hard Jane Austen fans, those especially smitten with Pride and Prejudice, may find themselves in a fit of rage or tears (…or both) if they pick up this retelling covering the events before, during, and after the timeline of the original story.
Told by overlooked middle sister Mary Bennet, she explains how she understood from a young age that she was not valued as her older sisters were because she was plain and unlikely to find a suitable husband.
Mr. Collins, the cousin who will take control of the estate once Mr. Bennet dies, arrives at Longbourn with the intentions of proposing to one of the Bennet sisters. Mrs. Bennet explains that Jane is practically engaged already to Mr. Bingley and so Lizzie is naturally next in line.
A flirtation arises between Mary and Mr. Collins but Mary soon finds herself heartbroken after learning that he has proposed to their neighbor Charlotte after Lizzie rejected him.
When Jane and Lizzie become engaged at the same time, they hold a double wedding and begin their lives at their new estates. Lydia writes often to request money from her newly married sisters as her husband Wickham leaves for days at a time and people arrive to collect his gambling debts.
Mary is invited to stay at Pemberly, where she spends her days reading, writing, and caring for pregnant Lizzie. Soon Darcy’s cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam comes to stay and though they have a rocky start, a friendship soon blossoms into much more.
I don’t want to give away some shocking details about the fate of some of the Bennet sisters but suffice it to say that things take a dark and dramatic turn, which will leave some readers shocked after the hopeful and positive ending for the beloved characters of Austen’s classic.
Shocking behavior fills the pages, loyalties are tested, and scandal and betrayal turn this retelling into a dark soap opera.
If you want a faithful retelling of Pride and Prejudice which stays true to the morals and virtues of Austen’s characters, I suggest What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean (read my review here), which is told from Kitty’s perspective.
If you want to read a retelling that will shatter all the things you thought you knew about the Bennets (and their spouses!), then Mary B will certainly shake things up!
Thanks to Random House and Edelweiss for providing me with a DRC in exchange for my honest review. Mary B is scheduled for release on July 24, 2018.