Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Match for Mary Bennet by Eucharista Ward

The soft music soothed Mary's wandering mind, and she thought about Lizzy, whose marriage puzzled her more.  How brave she was to accept such a man, and no one expected her to find her happiness in him.  She wondered that her father had seemed content with Lizzy's choice.  The few times Mary had visited Pemberley, Lizzy certainly did not seem unhappy, and how surprisingly easy she seemed with Mr. Darcy!  Was marriage some magical step to happiness?  This might be the clue to Mrs. Bennet's urgings to her daughters to enter the state.  Well, Mary felt she could be content without such a change in her life, and she was grateful for Lizzy's sacrifice that made it possible to choose against it.  (from A Match for Mary Bennet, page ix in the ARC)

Jane Austen sequels, particularly sequels to Pride and Prejudice, have become a guilty pleasure of mine.  Whether they involve vampires or zombies or bedroom scenes that may have made Austen blush, my only requirements are that they are fun, engaging, and well written.  It helps if the author actually has read Austen and understands the characters and their motivation, but I might be forgiving if they tell a good story.

I didn't have extremely high expectations for A Match for Mary Bennet, given that Mary isn't the most exciting or engaging character in Pride and Prejudice, but I thought it would be entertaining to find out how the least marriageable Bennet sister handles the marriage-obsessed Mrs. Bennet (one of the most annoying characters I've ever encountered) after Jane, Elizabeth, and Lydia all are married off.  But the book completely blew me away.  Eucharista Ward completely "gets" Jane Austen.  The language, the characters, and the mannerisms of the Regency era (as I understand them, anyway) are spot on, and A Match for Mary Bennet quickly became my favorite of the Austen sequels I've read thus far.

In A Match for Mary Bennet, Jane and Bingley are happy with a two-year-old daughter in Nottingham, Elizabeth and Darcy are living happily at Pemberley and expecting their first child, and Lydia is who knows where with the scoundrel Wickham.  While Mrs. Bennet plans to parade her last two unmarried daughters, Mary and Kitty (known as Catherine through much of the book), to whatever ball or event might attract marriageable men, Mary would much rather be reading, playing the pianoforte, and going to church.  She has no plans at all to marry, and she admires Elizabeth for "sacrificing" her happiness by marrying the arrogant Mr. Darcy so that she will never be penniless or homeless if she remains unmarried.  As she travels between Longbourne, Pemberley, and Otherfield (the nickname for the new Bingley estate), Mary has time to observe her sisters' marriages, and she discovers she may have things all wrong.  And while Mary juggles the attention of three (count them -- three!) men, she aims to set herself up so that marriage never has to be an option.

Ward gives Pride and Prejudice fans plenty of scenes with Elizabeth and Darcy, Jane and Bingley, Mr. Bennet, Georgiana Darcy, Mrs. Reynolds, and Mrs. Gardiner, and even Lady Catherine, Anne, Mr. Collins, Caroline Bingley, and of course, Mrs. Bennet appear.  She introduces plenty of interesting new characters as well, namely Miss Johnstone, a kleptomaniac with a crush on Darcy; James Stilton, a fashionable man with some musical talent and a gambling problem; and Steven Oliver, the charming pastor at Kympton who gets Mary to see that maybe her opinions of Lydia have been too harsh.

I loved that A Match for Mary Bennet was so well written and authentic that I never questioned a character's actions when comparing them to Pride and Prejudice, and I actually forgot several times that I wasn't reading a book written by Austen herself.  It was a tad predictable, but that didn't ruin it for me at all.  I highly recommend this book, especially if you've never thought about reading an Austen sequel.

If you're interested in giving A Match for Mary Bennet a try, you're in luck!  I have 1 copy to give away, courtesy of Sourcebooks Just leave a comment on this post telling me what you think about the numerous Austen sequels being released these days, and include your e-mail address.  Because the publisher is handling the shipping, this giveaway is open only to U.S. and Canada.  This giveaway will close on Sunday, Oct. 18, at 11:59 EST.


A Match for Mary Bennet counts toward the Everything Austen Challenge.  Two down, four to go.

Disclosure:  I received a free copy of A Match for Mary Bennet from Sourcebooks for review purposes.

27 comments:

Serena said...

For once we wholeheartedly agree on an Austen sequel! Hurrah for Eucharista Ward! I hope we see more of her Austen in the future.

bermudaonion said...

I've only tried one Austen sequel and it didn't do much for me, so I'm not sure if this is for me or not.

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

I've always been a little apprehensive about sequels to literary classics, but I've read two or three reviews now on the authenticity and quality of this novel. I would love the chance to read this one!

fitz12383(at)hotmail(dot)com

Lori said...

I have a serious addiction to Austen sequels, particularly P&P, so when I see or read about a new one, my heart starts pounding and I feel like it's Christmas morning! (I told you, it's an addiction).

I am thrilled to see this new book and would love to read it!

Thanks for giving me the opportunity!

- Lori (mrshedgy@yahoo.com)
www.psychoticstate.blogspot.com

Pam said...

Well, I have to admit that I'm not sure I've actually read Pride and Prejudice yet but all of these sequels sound so good that I've added P&P as well as the sequels onto my must-read list!

melacan at hotmail dot com

teabird said...

I've also wondered about Mary - she didn't seem as much unmarriageable as a woman who'd be extra-ordinarily hard to please. I'd love to read this! Thank you-

teabird / ravelry

Marie said...

Sounds charming :-) I might have to try one of these one of these days.

Tricia said...

It's great when you find a great Austen sequel. Some of them are iffy!

Veens said...

I just read another review.. and I must say everyone is raving about this one!
I haven't read any Austen sequel.. i guess someday i will give it a try!

Nise' said...

I like to give sequels a try and have read some good ones and some really awful ones! This one look like it would be a good one!

nisethusfarATyahoo

Linda said...

Not having read any sequels to these Austen classics, perhaps I shouldn't comment on them. This one sounds enjoyable, but as a general rule I'm pretty leery of authors who capitalize on some other author's work. Remember the disaster of Scarlet. IMO a slap in the face to Margaret Mitchell. But I would like to give Ms. Ward's novel a try.
lcbrower40(at)gmail(dot)com

carolsnotebook said...

I've gotten tired of seeing all the sequels, but the only one I've read is the Zombie one. This one sounds like I might enjoy it, though.

carolsnotebook at yahoo dot com

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, babe. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this up at Win a Book for you.

southernmatrix said...

I haven't read any of the sequels so, I am anxious to try this one! Libby sutherland46@gmail.com

Haleyknitz said...

i think it's cool. it means that everyone loves the characters so much that they can't let go of them :D

haleymathiot at yahoo dot com

mariag said...

I have enjoyed reading many of the Austen sequels. Looking forward to this one as well.

Jenny N. said...

I have read a few Pride and Prejudice sequels and really enjoyed them. I always wanted to know what happened to the characters after P&P ended and reading these books satisifys by curiosity.

jen4777[at]hotmail.com

MoziEsmé said...

I love it! It's like a never-ending series...

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Lee said...

I know I'm drawn to the sequels because the original was such an enjoyable experience. Unfortunately the ones I've read don't live up to Austen herself. Glad to hear there's a good one out there.

Janel said...

So far I've only read one sequel, but I really liked it. I can't believe how many reviews for other ones I've seen lately! Please enter me for this one. Thanks!

jgbeads(at)gmail(dot)com

Sarah said...

I like the idea of Pride and Prejudice sequels, although I have yet to read any! This one sounds great, as if it picks up right where Jane Austen left off.

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah Emmerson

Kristen said...

I am a complete and total Austen sequel fan. I snap them all up without reservation. Of course, once in the pages, some are better than others. It's reassuring to hear that this one is a good one and I'd love the chance to win it.

whitreidsmama at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

I am an Austen fan...I enjoy them.

karen k
kmkuka(at)yahoo(dot)com

Linna said...

Usually I avoid reading any sequals. But these days some sequals seem to have really wild or hilarious twists to the original ones, which makes me really want to read. I'm also interested in this book. Please enter me.

linna.hsu at gmail dot com

CherylS22 said...

I don't really mind the Austen sequels, especially the ones that continue the characters that were in the original. But I'm not fond of the ones that are vampire or zombie stories - both are overdone right now.

Thanks ~ megalon22{at}yahoo{dot}com

pippirose said...

I haven't read any of the sequels, either. Since this one comes so highly recommended, I'd love to read it!
:o)
pippirose59 at gmail dot com

Anna said...

This giveaway is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered and/or publicized the giveaway. I really appreciate it. I will announce the winner soon.