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The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet

2.82  ·  Rating Details ·  2,293 Ratings  ·  533 Reviews
Everyone knows the story of Elizabeth and Jane Bennet in "Pride and Prejudice." But what about their sister Mary? At the conclusion of Jane Austen's classic novel, Mary, bookish, awkward, and by all accounts, unmarriageable, is sentenced to a dull, provincial existence in the backwaters of Britain. Now, master storyteller Colleen McCullough rescues Mary from her dreary fat ...more
Hardcover, 337 pages
Published December 30th 2008 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2008)
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Amelia A little under twenty years after the close of Pride and Prejudice.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Set twenty years after the end of Pride and Prejudice, the chessboard of characters are in some new positions: Mary has spent the last seventeen years caring for Mrs Bennet, who has just died; Kitty married a Lord who kindly left her a young, wealthy widow; Lydia is carousing and drunk, sleeping around while George is on duty in America; Jane has had 12 pregnancies and they're worried about her health; and Lizzie is unhappy in her marriage to Fitz (Mr Darcy), who thinks their first and only son, ...more
Holly (2 Kids and Tired)
Sep 25, 2008 Holly (2 Kids and Tired) rated it did not like it
Shelves: not-shelf-worthy
Terrifically disappointing. With few exceptions, I haven't enjoyed many Pride and Prejudice sequels, but this one looked promising. While Colleen McCullough, thankfully, doesn't try to be Jane Austen, I think she seriously misses the boat when it comes to these characters. Anyone who has read Pride and Prejudice has their own ideas as to who Mr. Darcy is and how he acts, just as they have pictures in their minds of Elizabeth and her sisters. Even understanding that, I cannot envision these chara ...more
Dec 24, 2008 Karina rated it did not like it
I hated this book so badly, that when I realized how she had butchered Austen's characters, I couldn't even bring myself to read any further.

Anyone who's been married understands there are bad times and bad days, but to tell me that Darcy and Elizabeth have been unhappy since their marriage...and to have Darcy think that it wasn't worth marrying down is ridiculous and not true to the character Austen built. In addition to this, Darcy apparently practically rapes Elizabeth on their wedding night
Jan 16, 2009 Tamra rated it did not like it
A truly bizarre "sequel" to Pride and Prejudice. I'm not sure you could even classify it as a sequel. Ms. McCullough simply took the characters from the beloved novel and incorporated them into a strange and unbelievable story. I was looking forward to reading how poor Mary Bennet overcame her setbacks but I absolutely detested the futures Ms. McCullough gave each of the characters and the violence she wove into the story seemed unfitting and crass for a Jane Austen sequel. She very easily could ...more
Allison (The Allure of Books)
Jul 10, 2009 Allison (The Allure of Books) rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009 can obviously see from all the other reviews that this is not the most popular of Pride and Prejudice sequels. Darcy and Elizabeth do not spend 99% of their time having sex, and he does not cater to her hand and foot all the days of their lives.

*shrugs* Sorry. Those things don't happen in reality. McCullough had the gumption to write something that could have.

I DO think that Darcy's buttheadedness WAS a little extreme on two points:

1. Caroline Bingley. Obviously she isn't his favorit
Jan 07, 2011 Cass rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was a tedious read. The book focuses on the life of Mary Bennett who has been living and caring for Mrs Bennett (her mother) since the death of her father.

The author completely rewrites the personalities of all the major characters so that they only resemble the original characters of Pride and Prejudice in name alone. The author describes Mary Bennett as having lived years of boredom with her mother, an odd description given Jane Austen described Mary as the type of person who was for
May 14, 2010 Wealhtheow rated it did not like it
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: Tamara
This novels picks up Mary Bennet's story several years after the end of [Pride and Prejudice]. A lot has changed since then, very little for the better. Romantic Kitty is glad her husband is dead and thinks only of her clothes; funny Lizzie has no life and no interests and doesn't understand her young children; Jane constantly weeps; Darcy bribes and outright physically forces the Bennet sisters from seeing their mother until she's dead, hates his children (especially his son who is kind and gen ...more
Jun 25, 2009 Kandice rated it it was amazing
I understand why some people didn't like this book, and maybe felt strongly enough to be offended by it. McCullough takes beloved characters Austen created and un-romanticizes them. In McCullough's hands they become more real and believable. She treats the world Austen created a little like Dickens would have, had he written Pride and Prejudice.

I read Austen as a teenager, and her perfect view of English society was exactly what I needed and wanted at the time. As a middle aged woman, McCullough
A wild irreverent ride that will more than surprise Austen fans!

Any Janeite who makes it to the third chapter of The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet is in my opinion free to think author Colleen McCullough an impudent rapscallion.

I am confident that she will have no problem agreeing with me since she admitted that her motivation in writing a sequel to Pride and Prejudice was to stick it to the literati. Since it is doubtful that the good men and women of the arts and letters will read this nov
Oct 26, 2008 Sally rated it liked it
This book is fun to read, but it certainly isn't Jane Austen. McCullough is definitely better at writing plot than at creating nuanced characters who grow and develop realistically. I would recommend this book for a day at the beach, or in my case a day off the beach while freezing rain whipped around my house and kept me inside!
Oct 17, 2013 Sara rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It is a truth universally acknowledged that many authors have tried to continue the stories of that great literary maven Jane Austen. Some have succeeded to great acclaim, hell there's some fantastic fan fiction that's never seen a bookstore or library shelf that nails everything from the dialogue to the characters and even manages to spin a new and refreshing story. Would that this were the case with "The Independence of Miss Mary Bennett."

I'm concerned that Colleen McCullough hasn't actually r
Aug 16, 2014 Elaine rated it really liked it
Shelves: spring-challenge
After a rocky start with this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was a bit apprehensive initially when McCullough seemed to totally shatter all my impressions of Austen's most loved characters. I realised though to do this was imperative to the story and that the author had a reason for portraying Mary, Darcy and Elizabeth the way she did. Very clever Ms McCullough!!! Mary Bennet's misadventures had me turning the pages to find out what the outcome would be. I'm glad I persevered as I was rewarded ...more
'chris d
Feb 04, 2009 'chris d rated it liked it
If you are a Jane Austen fan, you will probably be offended by the liberties that Ms. McCullough has taken on one of my favorite Austen characters.

To refresh some of you, Mary is the middle daughter and next younger sister to Elizabeth Bennet of the famous Pride and Prejudice Bennet family.

She is plain, pedantic, bookish, very religious, plays the piano and cannot sing, but she does anyway. Austen clearly did not care for this character but 20th century readers recognize her as a modern woman tr
I wasn't sure when I first started this book how much I was going to like it. Having first enjoyed Pride and Prejudice many years ago, this book picks up 20 years after where Jane Austen's ends, but without the realisation of the rose-tinted hopes hinted at by Jane Austen. Instead, this book holds nothing about Pride and Prejudice sacred - everything you think you know about the characters is fair game to be turned on its head by Colleen McCullough!

So this irreverence for the original text initi
Mar 13, 2010 Melissa rated it liked it
Recommends it for: "Fanfiction" Fanatics
Shelves: 2010
I have mixed feelings about this book. In fact, I stopped reading it numerous times and then had to will myself to go back to it. I debated on whether to give it 2 or 3 stars, but ended up choosing 3 because there were parts of it that I genuinely enjoyed.

From reading through the other reviews briefly, I gather that many people don't like the direction that McCullough chose for the characters, especially the direction of Lizzie and Darcy's marriage. I myself didn't mind, because basically anythi
Mar 16, 2009 Deb rated it it was ok
How to rip off Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer at the same time, with a bit of gothic horror and Trollope thrown in! I did always feel sorry for Mary, the foolishly wise sister in Pride and Prejudice. McCullough imagines a transformation of body and soul for her, which is the attractive part of the book, but making Darcy (and his father) into villians, and then transforming Darcy back in an instant, really does not work.
May 30, 2010 Aili rated it did not like it
Shelves: stupid
This book was stupid in so many ways. Plus it was offensively sexual. Let me list some of the ways it was stupid: the marriage relationships, the parent-child interactions, the author's views on children in general, the "growth" of key characters, the plot. I wish I hadn't read it.
Jul 26, 2009 Vicki rated it did not like it
Shelves: austen-spinoffs
Look, no offense to the one person who apparently liked this book, but mother of all that is good on this planet, how this book disappointed me! Where to begin? That Mary Bennet has become a woman of great sense, and yet thinks it's a good idea to off on her own in England without any help? She's independent, and it's beyond awful that any woman ever needed accompaniment outside of her own door, but for the sake of safety, I think she'd be sensible enough to see the need to have somebody with he ...more
It wasn't poorly written, but I really disagreed with where she felt the characters would be twenty years down the line. That's a major basic point to disagree on and makes the rest of the book hard to enjoy. I felt sad for Lizzy, but I also felt sad for Fitz, and especially for their kids, and for Lydia and Jane and everyone, really. (But never Caroline. Or Ned, and his relationship with Fitz was really weird.) Also, the title is misleading because it's just as much about Lizzy as Mary, possibl ...more
Kristin Davison
The author seems to have missed the events that occurred in p&p that change Darcys' character so dramatically and describes him as if he still proud and pompous. Lizzy is misjudged and for some reason Darcy finds her teasing unbearable. On the other hand I like that we get to see a different side of Mary.
Dec 17, 2010 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has received terrible reviews, but I must say I quite enjoyed it. I thought it a sad and realistic look at what may have happened twenty years after Pride and Prejudice ended. I loved that Mary became the star of the story and the portrayal of how the various marriages evolved. Many thought it ridiculous and unworthy of both McCullough and Austen, but I re-read it right after I finished it. It was a bit ridiculous and lacked Austen's subtle (and often not so subtle) wit... but it was a ...more
Jul 12, 2009 Gail rated it it was ok
I'm a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America and count myself as a loyal Janeite. Which might explain why I didn't like this book very much. I really only read it because it was picked for my book group. I have no objection to books inspired by Austen's novels -- I loved "Jane Austen in Boca" and thought the movie "Clueless" was great. But books that supposedly continue the stories of Austen are unnecessary. Her books are perfect as they are. Let's leave Elizabeth and Darcy alone and ...more
Idril Celebrindal
Jun 08, 2015 Idril Celebrindal rated it did not like it
How on earth could anyone, thinking "I'll write the story of Mary Bennet after the events of Pride and Prejudice," come up with this?
Feb 16, 2017 Nicole rated it did not like it
A real slog right the way through. A promising idea (Mary Bennet!) taken on a plot ride that is too, too ridiculous and not even really about her. Do not even bother. The book has none of the things that have made centuries of people love Pride and Prejudice.
Jennifer (JC-S)
Mar 29, 2010 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it it was ok
‘Oh, how much longer?’

Of the five Bennet sisters in ‘Pride and Prejudice’, Mary is perhaps the least visible: considered plain and with ‘neither genius nor taste’. In this novel, Ms McCullough makes Mary her heroine and describes a life which becomes interesting, to say the least. Two decades after the events described in ‘Pride and Prejudice’, Mary has spent seventeen years caring for her widowed mother in a remote house, Shelby Manor, which happens to have an extensive library which Mary has p
Aug 09, 2012 Colleen rated it liked it
The amount of Pride and Prejudice spinoffs is overwhelming at times. Having read a couple of other candidates from this well-populated field, I didn't have high hopes for The Independence of Miss Mary Bennett, but Ms. McCullough proved my low expectations wrong.

I started out with the familiar jolt of seeing some of my favorite characters changed-- inevitably changed, since time can't stand still, and the Elizabeth, Darcy, Jane, and everyone else would have of course changed since the closing of
May 24, 2010 Poonam rated it did not like it
I picked up this book since it had an interesting premise. After 'happily ever after' ending of 'Pride and Prejudice' , this book picked up from there and traced not only the marriage of Elizabeth Darcy but also how third sister Mary Bennet chose to live her life.

The book's only redeeming feature is that Mary Bennett has some spunk. However, it was a let down in terms of both narrative, style and plot. This book not only lacks memorable quotable sentences of 'Pride and Prejudice', also does't pr
Mar 16, 2009 Chelle rated it it was ok
Shelves: read_2009
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 15, 2010 LemonLinda rated it liked it
I did like this book in spite of not really wanting to like it. It went off on a couple of wild tangents that were not extremely believable in my opinion. The characters were highly familiar to those of us who have read Jane Austen, yet I was a little disappointed with where McCullough went with some of them although I do have to give her bonus points for her creative effort. The book begins about 20 years following Pride and Prejudice when Mrs. Bennet dies. Mary has been tucked away in another ...more
Sep 24, 2010 Vic rated it did not like it
"Imagine an author, Colleen McCullough, whose bestsellers have made her rich and famous. Imagine another author, Jane Austen, whose novels did not make her rich and who became famous only decades after her death. This author inspires a booming industry 200 years later that makes a profit for other authors who have been busily spinning off sequels and prequels.

Whatever impulse made Colleen McCullough jump on the Jane Austen bandwagon should have remained inside of her. This novel purports to be
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hi 5 46 Oct 06, 2013 02:44PM  
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  • The Third Sister: A Continuation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility
  • Recollections of Rosings (The Pemberley Chronicles, #8)
  • Edmund Bertram's Diary (Jane Austen Heroes, #4)
  • To Have His Cake (and Eat It Too): Mr. Darcy's Tale (Pride and Prejudice Untold #1)
  • Mrs Darcy's Dilemma
  • Desire and Duty: A Sequel to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice
  • Letters from Pemberley: The First Year
  • First Impressions: A Tale of Less Pride & Prejudice
  • Suspense and Sensibility: Or, First Impressions Revisited (Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mysteries, #2)
  • Cassandra and Jane
  • A Marriage Worth The Earning: ~To Have And To Hold~
  • The Trouble with Mr. Darcy (Darcy Saga #5)
  • The Phantom of Pemberley (Pride and Prejudice Murder Mystery #1)
  • The Cumberland Plateau: A Pride And Prejudice Modern Sequel
  • Searching for Captain Wentworth
Colleen Margaretta McCullough was an Australian author known for her novels, her most well-known being The Thorn Birds and Tim.

Raised by her mother in Wellington and then Sydney, McCullough began writing stories at age 5. She flourished at Catholic schools and earned a physiology degree from the University of New South Wales in 1963. Planning become a doctor, she found that she had a violent aller
More about Colleen McCullough...

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