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I have a Rant

March 8, 2009

This doesn’t particularly pertain to infertility but just one of my loves.

Books specifically.

I don’t know if I have mentioned it but my favorite author is Jane Austen.  I love all of her works and those that stem from those works that expand fringe characters and remain true to the spirit of Jane.

There is now a book out by Colleen McCullough titled “The Independence of Mary Bennet: A Novel“.

While I think it is an interesting angle for a novel I believe that her conclusions about the marriages of both Elizabeth and Jane to be completely out of character for a Austen novel.  The whole point of Pride and Prejudice is that love is above class issues.

Here are some other reviews (very similar to mine- though I am glad I didn’t buy the thing):

This novel picks up 20 years after Austen’s Pride and Prejudice leaves off; taking the almost completely unknown Mary and making her the story’s focal point.

I really wanted to like this book, and I approached it with an open mind (despite some pretty harsh Amazon reviews). I read the book with no bias towards Austen, contrarily, my bias is toward Colleen McCullough of whom I am a fan.

Because of that, I was able to divorce myself from the notion that this is a “sequel” of sorts to Pride and Prejudice. I think you have to, because other than the names, there’s not much recognizable. I felt it important to view this book as a stand-alone. And of its own accord …. it was just plain boring. I really had to push myself to get through it.

There was little charm in the characters; the circumstances they found themselves in were downright ridiculous; and there were parts which were so exceedingly sappy, I actually felt nauseated.

The best thing about this book was that it got me to read Pride and Prejudice, but I can’t recommend this follow up. Sorry, Colleen. I still love you …

and these:

Horrible if you imagine a happily ever after to Elizabeth & Darcy. I had such a hard time listening to this portrayal of Darcy. I can imagine his personality possibly creating some hurdles in their married life, but never to think that they would be of such a nature as to not be easily resolved by their love. To venture to say that their wedding night was like a rape and that he would so loath his son is crossing the line!

So as much as I like to see what Mary’s independence would be like, I will be returning this book.

I bought this book because I’m a big Colleen McCullough fan. I believe her Masters of Rome series to be one of the finest I’ve ever read – and have re-read. I am less of a Jane Austen fan, though I’ve read all of her published works and think that the first chapter of Pride and Prejudice is one of the most hilarious in all of literature. So you see, I am coming at it from a different direction than the most rabid of Austen fans. Having said that, I felt angry to see the P&P characters so sullied – especially the delectable Mr. Darcy. And frankly, despite some interesting plot twists, this was just not a great read. It was a little silly and a little boring and I just didn’t love it. It was published because of who the author is – not because of its quality and content. I did finish it but would not recommend it. Disappointing…

This book is a bizarre adaptation of the story of the Bennet sisters, if it can even be called an “adaptation” in all fairness. There is very little Austen to be found in this book beyond a familiarity in the names and places depicted in the story. I cannot review this book more thoroughly than is has already been reviewed, by extremely competent minds, in my opinion. I completely agree with all the negative reviews posted thus far. This book is merely a testament to the vanity of the author, who sought to put right Mary Bennet’s poor treatment from Austen’s pen. In doing so, she creates a fantasy in which the Bennet sisters rub elbows with outlaws, religious heretics, brothel madams and kidnappers. She may have put the Bennet sisters on the moon, for all the sense this story makes in the context of Jane Austen’s society.

To be fair, Mary Bennet does become a much more likable character in this book, which seems to be the author’s intent. Mary, however, is the only character that receives any charity. The other characters are slandered and distorted to the point of ridicule.

Bottom line: If you like Jane Austen, you will not like this book.

There are so many more reviews like these all over the internet!  I had no idea but at Barnes and Noble yesterday I picked it up for a read while the hubbs was looking for “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” and I didn’t make it past the first couple of chapters.

It really got me upset that a woman would take the wonderful escape of Jane Austen’s world and sully it with such a divation of what Austen would write herself.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 9, 2009 12:12 am

    I admire Austen also and McCullough’s Miss Mary Bennet was a big disappointment. Thank you for your insights.

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