The Independence of Miss Mary Bennett
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The Independence of Miss Mary Bennett

2.74 of 5 stars 2.74  ·  rating details  ·  1,665 ratings  ·  436 reviews
Everyone knows the story of Elizabeth and Jane Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. But what about their sister Mary, she of the atrocious singing voice and the staidly religious bent of mind?

Master storyteller Colleen McCullough paints a life for Mary Bennet twenty years after Jane Austen's novel closes.

So far on in time, each of Mary's sisters is settled in her own way. Happil...more
Paperback, 467 pages
Published August 7th 2009 (first published January 1st 2008)
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Holly (2 Kids and Tired)
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
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
Karina
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...more
Tamra
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
Cass
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...more
Kandice
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...more
Allison (The Allure of Books)
Okay...you 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...more
Sally
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!
'chris d
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...more
Kathryn
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...more
Melissa
Mar 14, 2010 Melissa rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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...more
Laurel
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...more
Deb
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.
Aili
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.
Vilja
Overall, I found this novel enjoyable. It did, however, have such an easily quantifiable incidents of win and fail that I will attempt to list them here.

Of course, you might not agree. I realize that for many what I cound as wins they would rather be quantified as fails, and vice versa.

Spoilers below!

Win:
- Mr Darcy is a dreadful lay.
- Lydia uses the C-word and calls Mr Darcy a bugger. At an important dinner.
- The f-word is used.
- So are Austenish run-on sentences.
- Mary, the heroine, acts wonder...more
Shelley
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
Leslie
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
Chelle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sara
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...more
Poonam
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...more
Vic
"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...more
Haley
It's been over a year since I last attempted to pick up a Pride and Prejudice fan fiction, and well, it was a distasteful disaster.

So why did I think this one would be any different? I couldn't tell you. It seemed as if it had potential. After all, the book claimed to be centered around Mary - a character whom Austen purposefully neglects throughout the duration of Pride and Prejudice. There was room for leniency. From what I knew of her, I liked Mary. I admired how different she was from her s...more
Barbara
I just cannot read this book. I am sure it is very good, but I just cannot handle what she has done to Elizabeth and Darcy. The whole point of Pride and Prejudice was that Elizabeth was prejudiced against Darcy and could not see the truly good man he was. Darcy, on the other hand, did not let on his true nature and the truth about Wickham due to his pride. In the Independence of Miss Mary Bennet, the Darcy character is proven to be exactly the person Elizabeth originally thought him to be - cold...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘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...more
Vicki
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
Colleen
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...more
Jude
Genuinely entertaining. jane can handle it, and McCullough had a great time - i like books that feel that way. I like the revisionism - why hold back: if you are not Austen, hold true to her perspective, but use what you know.

not that i agree with everything - there's a whole mystery/kidnap thingy that seems truly out of form...

then again, for all my irritation at having psychology 101 lectures delivered by book characters, I also think Jane would have enjoyed pursuing such a way of trying to un...more
Isa
I am not much of a purist. I love Jane Austen and I would be intimidated to try to take on the kind of pressure/criticism that would come from attempting to do justice to one of her beloved characters...That being said, I can admire the chutzpah of anyone brave enough to take this on, to at least attempt to read their book with an open mind.

I have long felt Mary Bennet was one of the unsung heroines in Pride and Prejudice. Why did her story have to be ignored? I liked the turn that Colleen McCu...more
Sarah
Where do I begin with this book? The things I didn't like: character development was atrocious! When you're continuing another author's story like Pride & Prejudice the reader needs to feel like the characters are still the same people but I didn't feel as if they were. This author uses an annoying amount of incomplete sentences which drove me mad! Also, the characters weren't very real and at times overly sentimental. On the dust jacket, a reviewer exclaims over how well researched this boo...more
Sumi
It was so jarring to hear Darcy called 'Fitz' throughout the entire novel there was no way it was going to get a lot of stars from me. Petty, perhaps, but that's just the way it is.

While the character of Mary as an approaching middle-aged spinster wasn't bad the whole thing just didn't 'feel' like Pride and Prejudice. It was like reading a story that happened to have characters that were all named for the characters in Pride and Prejudice. I might have liked the story better if there had been n...more
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hi 6 41 Oct 06, 2013 02:44PM  
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Colleen McCullough AO (born 1 June 1937) is an internationally acclaimed Australian author. Colleen was born in Wellington in central west New South Wales to James and Laurie McCullough.

She grew up during World War II. In her first year of medical studies at the University of Sydney she suffered dermatitis from surgical soap and was told to abandon her dreams of becoming a medical doctor. Instead,...more
More about Colleen McCullough...
The Thorn Birds The First Man in Rome (Masters of Rome, #1) The Grass Crown (Masters of Rome, #2) Fortune's Favorites (Masters of Rome, #3) Caesar (Masters of Rome, #5)

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