Book Review: 'Mary Bennet' by Kate Allan

by - March 21, 2014

No one who has ever seen me would suppose me a heroine. My situation in life, the character of my father and mother, indeed my own person and disposition are all against me.



Mrs Bennet is determined that all five of her daughters must marry. Mary overhears a conversation between her parents that shatters her already fragile sense of self-worth. She knows she is the least attractive of the sisters but to hear that her attempts to overcome this by being intelligent and accomplished are laughable sends her into a deep depression.

Mary and her her sister Kitty are sent to Derbyshire so that their elder sister, Mrs Darcy, can introduce them to suitable young gentlemen. Mary is satisfied to remain a spinster and is shy with gentleman. But she does decide she should try and improve herself.

On the way to Derbyshire she meets a strange gentleman who she considers ill mannered. However she is intrigued by his knowledgeable conversation about old buildings.

On arrival at Pemberley, the home of the Darcy’s, Mary discovers that the stranger is a Mr Sharnbrook of Kent and also a house guest. Mr Sharnbrook is an amateur archaeologist and has come to Pemberley to excavate possible burial mounds as part of his studies. Mary is interested in his work and offers to help him sort out his notes. Engrossed in the work, her spirits begin to lift.

A continuation of Pride and Prejudice beginning eight months after the end of Jane Austen's novel, Mary Bennet tells the story of how the Bennet's neglected middle daughter tries to overcome the disadvantages of her character and find happiness.


I have to admit that when I was approached with the opportunity of reading a book that was linked to the Jane Austen novels I had very mixed feelings. As a loyal Jane Austen fan, I was hugely excited at the idea of her characters coming back to life. However, on the other hand, I was sceptical about how authentic the story would be and how believable it would be.

I can say that Kate Allan has brilliantly resurrected the characters from the infamous Pride and Prejudice - they are impressively true to the characters that Jane Austen dreamed up all those years ago. The issues raised within Mary Bennet are relevant to the conflicts and difficulties faced during the turn of the 19th century, where manners, upbringing, education and marriage were all key focuses for the women of this time. 

Jane Austen explored these issues in great depth in Pride and Prejudice, and Kate Allan has beautifully linked her story to follow in Jane's style. As an admirer of all Jane Austen's characters, I was really pleased that Kate was giving Mary, the quieter and more reserved of the Bennet sisters, her own voice. 

Mary is criticised by her own family, and society, for having no desire to find love and marry. I have a lot of admiration for strong women who stand up for themselves, especially at this time where society was so condemning of those who did not conform. I love that Kate Allan retains Mary's true identity by keeping her true to herself. 

And it is by maintaining this sense of self-respect and self-belief, that Mary becomes involved in assisting Mr Sharnbrook in his Archaeological Research, that Mary unwittingly finds love. It is through this where we find the illicit love triangles and complications becoming intertwined with the complexities of 19th century life. I loved the development of these relationships throughout the novel.

I really enjoyed reading Mary Bennet, as it was beautiful to see some familiar characters brought back to life, with Mary, previously hidden in the background, taking the forefront of the story. I always love to read a novel exploring the strength of a woman giving her the ability to stand up for themselves during a difficult time.

As an avid Austen fan, I must confess that, although authentic and true to the work of Austen, for me there is only one Jane Austen, and it will always be difficult to be compared to her works. For me, as many others say, there is only one Jane Austen.

But having said this, I do recommend Mary Bennet as is it beautifully written and magically familiar for any Austen fan. Kate Allan took on a very brave challenge, and in her own right, has created a gorgeous novel.

About the Author:

Kate lives in the Bedfordshire countryside, England, close to the Chiltern Hills. She developed plans to be a novelist at the age of seven after reading about the career of prolific children's author Enid Blyton, whose adventure and mystery story books she read avidly. She taught herself to use her mother's typewriter to try and make her stories look like "proper books". Endlessly fascinated by "the past", Kate took a degree in History before starting a commercial career.

She began seriously writing in 2001, taking a notebook with her on the train to make best use of her commute to work. She wrote two historical novel manuscripts before receiving an offer of publication for the second - a short novel - in 2004 from DC Thomson. Fateful Deception is a romantic adventure set in the early 19th century and was shortlisted for the 2005 RNA New Writers Award. 

2006 saw the publication of Perfidy and Perfection, Kate's romantic comedy set in Jane Austen's England, and the publication of two short novels: Fateful Deception and The Restless Heart.

Kate also writes in partnership with author Michelle Styles under the name Jennifer Lindsay. Jennifer Lindsay's first novel, The Lady Soldier, is a romantic adventure about a lady who disguises herself as a man in order to join Wellington's army. It was published in 2005.

The kind of stories Kate writes are those that she would like to read, and she hopes that others will find them enjoyable and entertaining too.

Kate is member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors.

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  1. Jess, an awesome review of Mary Bennet.

    Thank you for taking part in Kate's tour.


  2. Aww thanks Shaz! Hope everyone enjoys it :)

    You're welcome - thanks for including me.



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