The Unexpected Miss Bennet

Written by Patrice Sarath
Review by Arleigh Johnson

Among the plethora of Jane Austen continuation novels, this story is distinct in that its central character is the least inspiring Bennet sister, Mary. Realizing that her sermonizing and lackluster pianist skills had been the object of ridicule among her limited society, she gave up on the endeavors and found a sense of open-mindedness the old Mary would have scorned.

Beginning at Longbourn and with a short stint at Pemberley, most of the story takes place at none other than Rosings Park, home to one of the main antagonists from Pride and Prejudice, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Mary had secured a position as companion to Anne de Bourgh, though she had caught the notice of more than one gentleman. Should she continue in her elevated – though somewhat oppressive – surroundings, or find happiness like her much admired elder sisters?

This is a story of self-discovery, understanding and acceptance. We get a glimpse at the underlying thoughts and motives of key Austen characters: Lady Catherine, Mr and Mrs Collins, Mr and Mrs Bennet, and, of course, Mary. New and unexplored personalities make this a refreshing take, possessing an authenticity that would make Jane Austen proud. Fans will count this sequel as an amusing addition to a saturated genre.