The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow is her first novel.
In Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice, Mary is the middle sister of the five Bennet girls. In the 18th century a young woman, if not born into wealth, must marry into it. To achieve this she must be born beautiful. Of the Bennet sisters, only Mary was plain and of such a retiring nature that she was doubly overlooked by any prospective suitor.
What Mary did have was an intelligent and inquiring mind, but this was of no interest either. Women were not expected to have their own opinions, only those of their husbands.
Her father rather grudgingly allowed her access to his library of which her mother was entirely disapproving. However, Mary revelled in learning from the books she read and, as a consequence; she retired even further from society.
As her sisters married, Mary was fated to lead the life of an ‘old maid’ and would eventually be forced to rely on the charity of friends and relatives. At best she may find employment as a nanny or governess.
When her father dies her home is lost, as it has been bequeathed to the despised Mr Collins, and so Mary’s fate is realised. Or is it?
This is the heart-warming narrative of a young, intelligent woman who strives to overcome her social difficulties and to feel comfortable in her own skin.
In an age where women, whether rich or poor, were expected to be subservient to their menfolk, this is a refreshing take on those principles.
Miss Austen would wholly approve!
A must read whether or not you are a Jane Austen devotee.
The Other Bennet Sister is available in paperback, hardback and e-book
About Janice Hadlow
Janice Hadlow was born in London and studied history at university. After a few years working for the House of Commons, she joined the BBC and became a television producer. She was the recipient of a number of awards, and is a Fellow of the Royal Television Society, as well as of King’s College, University of London. She currently lives in Edinburgh with her husband and has two sons.