This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I adore Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and I love it that the author took a rather minor character in the story and made her come to life as the heroine of her own story. This particular short piece is a parallel story. It follows chronologically to what could have happened in the background of the original story. The story is faithful to P&P, but everything happens through the eyes of Mary King. There are scenes that look familiar like the fateful Meryton Assembly, the card party at Mrs. Phillip’s house, the Bennets meeting Mr. Wickham, etc, but there are also new scenes that told what went on just in Mary’s story line and all from her point of view. I enjoyed it thoroughly even if I was disappointed at the brevity of the piece.
Mary King is a forgettable young lady compared to other young girls of her acquaintance or so it would seem to her. Her companion, Anne, is always telling her that she is just as worthy of the regard of nice gentlemen as others. It’s hard to be persuaded to this line of thinking when before her eyes she sees the newest marital prospect in the neighborhood, Mr. Bingley, focus on the oldest Miss Bennet.
But then Mary sets sight on a handsome militia officer, Lt. Wickham, who is new to the regiment and the neighborhood. It frustrates her to see that yet again the Bennet sisters capture his eye first and she goes unnoticed. However, that all changes when by a stroke of good fortune she inherits a significant amount of money making her an heiress. Now she has Mr. Wickham’s attention and his words and expressions are everything they should be when she dreamed of a romance with him. Too bad Anne is not in favor of Mr. Wickham and suspects his motives. Even when her father weighs in against Wickham, she still thinks they are both wrong. Then events take a bad turn and she is left miserable and bereft of her dream. How could it all fall apart so fast?
Reading this one was such a pleasure. I love the alternate plot path, the development of Mary’s character, seeing a different view of the P&P story and even relishing the opportunity to see the slimy Wickham in action once again. My only niggle is that I felt the story just abruptly ended. There is a small amount of closure and hints as to future path, but I wanted something more solid to feel that her story was wrapped up.
Because of the nature of this story, I think it would be best appreciated by those who are familiar with the P&P story either through the book or one of the movie/tv adaptions out there. I felt like the book is more of a companion story that needs the other to give it depth. So instead of recommending this to Regency Romance/Regency fiction lovers in general though I suppose it would not be impossible for those folk to appreciate the story, I’d recommend it to those who are familiar to the P&P world.
My thanks to the author for sending me a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.