Cover Image: The Other Bennet Sister

The Other Bennet Sister

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Member Reviews

Of the five Bennet sisters of "Pride and Prejudice," Mary is the sad sack. She lacks the charm and beauty, or the vivacity and silliness of her four sisters, and sure enough, upon the death of Mr. Bennet, she is living her worst fears. She is the only unmarried sister and will be living  with relatives, the Reverend Collins having inherited Longbourn as the famous entail decrees.

The first part of the book takes us through familiar episodes in P&P from Mary's point of view.  The story gains momentum once she's freed from the familiar story and is on her own to find a place for herself. She stays with Jane, Elizabeth, and even Charlotte Collins. She has encounters with Lady Catherine de Burgh who is eager to force Mary's worst nightmare on her. It is only when she escapes the world of Jane Austen does she begin to flourish and have a chance to live the life she has always hoped for.

Who doesn't love a novel where a maligned character has the opportunity to come into their own? How Mary does this is satisfying and in keeping with the  story.  Reliving Mary's role in Pride and Prejudice" is painful and I wish there were less of this in Janice Hadlow's book, but I understand the need to show how her mother's dislike and her father's indifference cast her in a role she could never escape as long as she was in the bosom of her family.

P&P lovers will enjoy Mary's journey thoroughly.

~~Candace Siegle, Greedy Reader
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What do you do if you're the middle child, when your older sisters are on their way to greatness and your younger sisters are the life of the party? Mary Bennet is the awkward one, a bookish girl whose prospects for marriage pale in comparison to that of her sisters. This weighs heavily on her, and when Mr. Bingley arrives and throws a party, that changes everything. We view many events of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice from Mary's perspective, and learn more about her and other characters because of this perspective shift.

Fast forward a few years, and life has changed. Elizabeth and Jane are married, and Mary must find her own way in the world. Eventually she finds solid footing by staying with her aunt, and begins to build her own life, and personal esteem for herself, away from the glamour and excitement of her sisters' lives. While Mary is not Elizabeth or Jane or Lydia, that's okay, because Mary is her own brand of woman, and she believes in finding freedom first, and happiness can follow after.

I thoroughly loved this book, not merely because of my passion for all Austen works, but also because it felt so refreshing to see Mary and so many side characters from Pride and Prejudice with new life breathed into them. Additionally, you can tell that Janice Hadlow is an enthusiastic Austen fan because of the many "Austenisms" peppered throughout this spin-off take on a previously less considered character's life. Be like Mary, and pick up this book to read with utmost swiftness. Fear not, for its charms shall not bring dishonor on you, or your house, but it will of a certainty warm your heart, charm your mind, and leave your soul with lingering hope. Dismissing The Other Bennet Sister would be a grievous mistake, so make haste to your favorite reading nook and rediscover one of Jane Austen's most belatedly appreciated Bennet sisters anew.
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Jane Austen.  Those two words, that one name, bring to so many readers not only the stories Jane wrote but the emotions each reader felt as they identified with one sister or another.  Now Janice Hadlow has given us an absolutely heart stirring story of The Other Bennet Sister, the one that was always last, always forgotten.  She continues Mary's story while maintaining the wonderful style of the original books.  Stories that continue the stories of Jane Austen are often less satisfying as the original.  This one is.  I loved the story, the style and the happily ever after at the end.  If you love the Austen books, you'll definitely love this one too.
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REVIEW: "The Other Bennet Sister" by Janice Hadlow. I received an e-ARC of this book from #NetGalley and #HenryHoltandCo in exchange for my honest review. A full review is posted on my blog, link in bio. This book takes the point of view of the often forgotten sister from "Pride & Prejudice", Miss Mary Bennet. The book starts shortly after Jane Austen's classic ended and follows Mary beyond Longbourn and into a whole new life. I'm pleased to report...Mary Bennet is VERY misunderstood! This book started slow but picked up quickly and I could not put it down. Release Date: 3/31/20 TODAY! GET IT! Rating: 4 stars
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The Other Bennet Sister is a transformative story told through the eyes of one of Pride and Prejudices most maligned characters. I am always hesitant to read a Pride and Prejudice sequel or retelling. I love Jane Austen and her books and can find fault with all the many attempts that try to take up the mantel of her characters. The Other Bennet Sister is therefore a surprising delight. The first part of the novel is a retelling of the events in Pride and Prejudice through the eyes of Mary, the middle Bennet sister. Alternately ignored or laughed at by her sisters and father; and constantly abused by her mother for her failure to be more like her sisters, Hadlow changes this one-dimensional character into one who elicits our sympathy and creates our hopes for her success. Hadlow doesn’t just re-create the scenes from the novel but enhances them through the sensibilities and actions of Austen’s minor characters.
The second part of the novel begins after the marriages of Jane, Lizzy and the other sisters. Mr. Bennett has died and Mary, alone of the sisters, finds herself without a home or money of her own. Adrift and looking for a place to settle, Mary is shifted from Jane’s house to Lizzy’s, feeling unwanted in both places. See receives an invitation to visit Charlotte Collins who, along with the infamous Mr. Collins, has settled in at Mary’s old home. Mary begins to feel sympathy for the oft maligned Mr. Collins and the two begin a friendship that soon provokes the jealousy of Charlotte, leading to Mary once again being set adrift.
In the third part of this story, Mary settles in at her Aunt Gardiner’s house in London. Finally finding a home with people who truly love and value her, Mary begins to change. Gaining confidence and self-worth, she soon attracts the attentions of two suitors who vie for her affections. In one of the novels most satisfying scenes, Caroline Bingley finally gets her comeuppance at the hands of Mary Bennet.
This is a fantastic re-telling of a classic novel and its characters, reforming our view of Mary Bennet, and elevating her into a heroine in her own right. Mary’s emergence into a woman of intelligence and self-assuredness is delightful to read. Hadlow maintains the style and feel of the period, creating a wonderful sense of time and place. My reading of Pride and Prejudice will be forever transformed after reading this novel. A must for fans of Jane Austen, as well as for those who love novels that feature strong intelligent heroines of any periods
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In her novel The Other Bennet Sister, Janice Hadlow gives readers a more complex picture of the famed Bennet family of Jane Austen's classic Pride and Prejudice.  Many Austen fans identify with younger sister Mary, a bookish and sometimes awkward young woman who is not an especially likeable character in P&P.  Hadlow, in this debut novel, lets us see more deeply into Mary's world.  In the first section, the novel tracks Mary's perspective on the events of Pride and Prejudice.  In the remaining sections, the plot moves on to future years when Mary creates a fuller life for herself.  This novel is a fascinating attempt to reanimate a character whose original creator sketched her merely as an amusing irritation.  I love that by the end of Hadlow's novel, Mary has at least partially become a fierce and independent woman.  I was far less interested in the somewhat trite portrayal of her earlier years, where she comes off as a whiny young woman with self esteem issues.  The author's narrative voice would have fit better in the Victorian period, where intense seriousness seemed to have been prized more than Jane Austen did herself in her witty novels.
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The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow is an excellent followup of one of the lesser-known Bennet sisters, Mary, from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

I was so excited to be able to read this book as I am a HUGE fan of Austen. I also have very high expectations from authors that use any of her beloved characters to create either a new novel, or a “part two” concept from a previous novel. Some have not been very impressive I have to say. 

BUT, this book definitely fits the bill. There were so many things I loved about this book:

The prose and pace elegantly matched P&P and I really did feel as if it was just a continuation of the original classic.

Mary was described appropriately, however the author was able to add more interest and depth to her character. One could see that while she was smart and independent-minded, she was also a bit of a drag and Debbie Downer at times, which I think totally describes her perfectly.

I liked the multi-faceted approach to describing her life and thoughts not only during the time of which the book originally takes place, but also in the years ahead. 

I also loved that Mary finally got to have her day, happy ending, and her spotlight for a time. 

I feel that this is a great read that does Mary, P&P, Jane Austen proud. I am impressed.

5/5 stars

Thank you NetGalley and Henry Holt & Company for this ARC and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon and B&N (posted as Rachel_Denise on 3/31) accounts upon publication.
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As an avid reader of Jane Austen's novels, I am always looking for good-quality fan-fiction or fiction based on Austen's novels. The Other Bennet Sister focuses on the middle sister from Pride and Prejudice - the plain and bookish Mary. In the original novel as well as in film adaptions, Mary is annoyingly prudish, sanctimonious, overly serious, and strikingly unpretty - a caricature of a grouchy spinster in making.

About a third of the novel is dedicated to the events that transpired in Pride and Prejudice. However, rather than recounting the story, Hadlow gives us a glimpse into Mary's thoughts and feelings. She does a great job explaining why Mary is the way she is and provides justifications for her behavior, including her disastrous performance at the Netherfield ball and her marked admiration of the unlikable Mr. Collins.

We then jump two years into the future. All Bennet sisters but Mary are married, their father is dead, Mr. Collins and Charlotte take possession of Longborne, and Mrs. Bennet moves in with Mr. Bingley and Jane. Mary, however, cannot tolerate living under the same roof with her mother and Mr. Bingley's sister Caroline. Between her mother's sharp criticisms and Caroline's scornful bullying, Mary's existence is entirely unbearable. Only when she distances herself from her mother and sisters and their expectations, is she able to finally be herself and seek out her one path to happiness.

I thought this book was an excellent take on Austen's well-beloved novel. Mary is not a likable character in the original book. But why is she so? Hadlow masterfully examines the fate of a girl who is not as beautiful or as lively as her four sisters and their mother. She is bookish, intelligent, and shy. She wears glasses, does not know how to dress, and is socially awkward. Being constantly badgered by her mother, and laughed at by younger sisters, makes her even more awkward and shy. She is painfully unhappy and scared that her life will never be more than existing at the mercy of her relatives.

I also loved how Hadlow zeros in on social conventions of the time, especially as they pertained to women. A well-behaved girl could never write to an unmarried gentleman even though she knows they had a misunderstanding and yearns to provide an explanation. All she can do is wait and hope that the young man will one day pay her a visit.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and highly recommend it to all Austen fans. 4 out of 5 stars. My only complaint about the writing is that it was too long and slow in the beginning.
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I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I’ve always felt some kinship with Mary Bennet as the sister with the least prospects in Pride and Prejudice, and have always found myself disappointed with the overall execution of the stories, even though they do interesting things with her character. The Other Bennet Sister, sadly, was another such disappointment.

Mary’s character is still probably the best part of the book. I enjoyed seeing the first part of P&P from her perspective to start off, providing context to the situation the Bennet family’s financial uncertainty. I also like how, even though Hadlow is yet another author who doesn’t fully deliver on it, she entertains the idea that Mary saw Mr. Collins as a suitable match in a practical sense, as well as their sharing similar interests, which makes a good jumping-off point for her to compare to as she begins to come into her own and actually experience love.

But this book was so long, and it felt tedious at times. I appreciate it objectively from an artistic standpoint, as it highlights the journey Mary goes on perfectly, but there was so much of it that was so boring, I ended up skimming in hopes of getting it over with. And I don’t know that I fully felt engrossed by Hadlow’s style either, as it failed to fully engross me.

This was kind of just ok, but I think this of one of the better books about Mary Bennet I’ve read. I think if you love Austen, it’;s wotth a try, to see if you love it more than I do.
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The Other Bennet Sister is definitely NOT a book to be judged by its cover. I really hated that cover – and this is one of the rare occasions where the UK cover is just as bad. Both covers seem to picture Mary Bennet exactly as she was in Pride and Prejudice. She seems washed out in the US cover and judgmental in the UK cover.

But I loved the book.

The real Mary, or at least the version I want to be the real Mary, does begin her story as sermonizing and judgmental. But, and it’s a HUGE but, because this is Mary’s own story and not the story of her much more brightly shining sisters, we see that Mary’s behavior is the result of being shy and withdrawn. She’s retreated into herself because she’s the frequently overlooked and often denigrated middle sister, trapped between the gorgeously beautiful Jane and Lizzy and the shallow but pretty Kitty and Lydia.

She’s not really an ugly duckling in the midst of a flock of swans, but her mother sure as hell makes her feel like it at every turn. I didn’t like Mrs. Bennet in the original story – AT ALL – and I like her even less here. Actually, I loathe her even more than I dislike this book’s cover.

Mary isn’t a diamond of the first water, as her older sisters are. She doesn’t sparkle the way her younger sisters do. But she is as pretty as any other young woman of her time, and would have been fine in any family slightly more functional than the Bennets.

But this is not a parallel story to Pride and Prejudice. Instead, it’s more like an alternate sequel, as most of the events take place after the end of P&P. Not merely after those events, but also after the long-feared death of Mr. Bennet, leaving Mrs. Bennet and her remaining unmarried daughters, Mary and Kitty.

And that is where Mary’s story really begins, as she starts the process of taking control of her own life for her own self – in spite of her mother’s frequent interference and constant disparaging – and often melodramatic – pronouncements.

Once Mary is on her own the story takes flight, as she explores the limited varieties of life possible for a spinster and begins to craft her own beliefs about who she is and how she should live – whether she manages to marry or not.

That the end of her journey of self-discovery leads her to love and happiness is the icing on a delightful and thoroughly tasty little cake of a story.

Escape Rating A-: In the end, I enjoyed The Other Bennet Sister considerably more than I expected to at the beginning. I’ve read Pride and Prejudice, but I’m not a fan or an aficionado. I found Mrs. Bennet in particular to be utterly appalling as a character, and Caroline Bingley and Catherine de Bourgh are not people I’d ever want to spend much time with. Certainly not enough time to ever attempt a reread of the book.

So one of the things I really liked about The Other Bennet Sister is that none of these petty villains are ever described as anything more than exactly what they are.

It does make for some fairly hard reading at the beginning of the story, as we pretty much suffer right along with Mary as she is first constantly berated by Mrs. Bennet, and then is forced to take on the role of charity case in the homes of both Elizabeth and then Jane as they subtly or not-so-subtly make her aware that she’s unwanted and unwelcome.

She has no place and she has no choice and that’s a difficult situation to be in.

But that’s when she takes things into her own hands and looks for other options, first with Lizzy’s friend Charlotte and her husband Mr. Collins – who was a figure of fun in the original, much like Mary herself.

It’s only when Mary takes herself off to her aunt, Mrs. Gardiner, that she finally finds a place where she is welcome and can work out her own future, whatever it might be. But all along Mary is brave and forthright, even in situations where those around her do their level best to keep her as far down as possible.

It’s fun watching her grow and expand her horizons. It’s also heartening to see her look hard at the easy way out but reject it as unworthy, over and over. She does a great job of exploring her limited possibilities and making her best choices.

In the end, Mary is a fascinating character, a woman with agency but one whose thoughts, beliefs and choices reflect her time and not ours. The Other Bennet Sister is a lovely story that uses its original as a springboard to something better!
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Sadly, I could not bring myself to finish The Other Bennet Sister. I was so excited to read the story of Pride and Prejudice from another sister’s point of view but this just didn’t work for me. Mary, the least liked sister in the Bennet family, tells her side of the story from a very depressing angle. Nothing goes her way. No one ever likes her. When I finally thought she had a suitor Mrs Bennet Stone him away. It seemed that the book was mostly Mary telling the reader how she has the worst life ever and her sisters have all the fun. The other crucial flaw for me was the lack of that classic Austen wit to really bring the story to life. That’s the key to Austen’s work for me and unfortunately, that’s that’s the main component missing from The Other Bennet Sister. Perhaps other Austen lovers will still love this other view of Pride and Prejudice but it simply was not for me.
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This is a must read for lovers of Jane Austen. It tells the story of Mary, the Other Bennett Sister, and her struggles. This story shows readers how Mary’s intelligence and need to learn new things was a burden to her in a time where educated women were not admired. We also learn about how the continued comparisons made by her mother to her sisters forced Mary into a place of depression and sadness.
This book does a wonderful job of mimicking  the style of an Austen novel, but the modern touches throughout allow this story to be more receptive to today’s reader.
I very much enjoyed this story and it gave me some final closure on the Bennet Family.
I both read and listened to this book. The audiobook provided wonderful narration that was a pleasure to listen to, and reading was a breeze as the story was written in an easily digestible way. The book did in some ways resemble Pride & Prejudice but I found it reassuring rather than annoying to find these similarities.
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This was truly the best novel I have read in some time. I felt as if I had stepped back in time and were walking in the pages of an Austen novel myself. 
Mary Bennett is known as the boring, bookish and plain Bennett Sister-but who is she really?
This author takes a closer look at the heart and soul of a woman scorned by society, rejected by her own family, and bullied by Caroline Bingley. 
The transformation of Mary Bennett is very complete and the reader cannot help but feel triumphant with her when she learns to be confident in her own skin and finds her true inner strength and beauty. 
I would love to read more novels by this author and shall recommend this highly to everyone who loves Jane Austen’s works.
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The story is about Mary Bennet, the almost forgotten Bennet sister. What a beautiful historical fiction that pays homage to Austen. . Hadlow does a great job of capturing Austen's style and details of the time period. The first part of the story drags a bit, in part because you are re-reading Pride & Prejudice from Mary's point of view. The pace picks up during the second half of the book when Mary starts telling her own story. A brilliant debut novel.
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There is real surge in the popularity of Jane Austen. The PBS series of Sanditon and the re-imagination of Emma for the big screen are probably the reason. I know it was one of the factors in my request of *The Other Bennet Sister*. I was totally there for the rest of the story featuring the forgotten Bennet, Mary. I am usually wary of books that continue or re-image the classics. I hate it when it appears more like fan-fiction. This book, however, it a respectful interpretation of the rest of the story. Austen fans will like this one!
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There are many types of books that I do not particularly care for but the top of the chart is people who write for other people's characters.  Yet I still fall for it and then am unhappy with myself. How does another author really know what happened to Scarlett? How can anyone else really write for Robert Parker or Rex Stout?  Yet I persist in trying them hoping for the best.

  And what characters seem to be rewritten the most? It seems to be Jane Austen for some reason. So here I try it again, this time with Mary Bennett, a somewhat shadowy character. Now I know why. She is boring. She is so boring that a book centered around her is boring. Her insecurities just go on and on from the way she dresses to the way she plays the piano. Does it never end? You just want to pick her up by the shoulders and shake her.

  Her best "friend", Charlotte, is a doozy. She stops her dancing with a young gentleman. She deliberately goes after the man Mary has told her she wants. She kicks her out of the house after a visit. Will Mary ever be able to get the knife out of her back? No wonder she is so insecure.

  The author does her no favors droning on for 480 pages. This is longer than the original work by 50%. Is there more story to be told. No. Just someone without a good copy editor. Please do us all out of our misery by editing a good 100 pages out of this book. It really needs it.

 Thanks to Net Galley for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.
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This book is absolutely charming, romantic, heartbreaking at times, heartwarming at others, and is such a beautiful continuation of “Pride and Prejudice”. Every time I picked up “The Other Bennet Sister”, I felt like I traveled back in time to Regency Era England, and was there with all of the characters. 

Ms. Hadlow’s writing style is vivid, poetic, beautiful, and very Austen-esque. She is truly able to bring everything in her book to life, and her characters, settings, and storylines jump right off of the page. The tone, pacing, and arc of the story felt very true to Austen’s novel, while still allowing for the plot to expand past the original book. Everything from the characters inner thoughts, to conflicts, to dialogue with one another felt extremely authentic and were exquisitely written.  Hadlow stays very true to various characters while still allowing for them to grow and change. Seeing some events before and during “Pride and Prejudice” through Mary’s eyes was really interesting, and seeing her story continue, and her own personal growth was a beautiful story to read. I also loved the various references to books that were often read during this era as well. You can tell how much Ms. Hadlow loves Jane Austen and the Regency Era!

If you enjoy regency romance novels, and / or Jane Austen books and continuations, I cannot recommend this book enough! I could not wait to see what happened chapter after chapter. While the book is a bit on the longer side, I never wanted to put it down, and I so hope Ms. Hadlow continues this story in perhaps another sequel! 

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Henry Holt & Company for an ARC of this book, and to Henry Holt & Company for sending me a physical ARC as well, I absolutely loved it! I hope to read many more books by this amazing author.
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The story is about Mary Bennet, the almost non-existent Bennet daughter. It narrated what hapened to her since she was a young child until adulthood (and after her sisters were all married). 

After her sisters were settled, it seemed her fate was to travel from one relation to the other (Jane then EBD then Longbourn then Mrs Gardiner's home). This gave her the advantage to observe, learn and change her ways/decisions. 

Loved the way the author described the events in her life that could possibly explain the way she is. (explanation made sense and not out of the ordinary). Also enjoyed the riposte between  her and CB (yes instead of EBD vs CB). There were also some love interest. Happy she made the right choice (HEA). However this is a very looonnnggg story (95 chapters), but it is an engaging one.

I recommend this to all P & P fan.
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Janice Hadlow’s novel about Mary Bennet, the often-scorned and overlooked sister from Pride and Prejudice, is pure delight from start to finish. The Other Bennet Sister is a wonderful read, an impressive debut novel, a loving homage to Austen and her world both real and fictional, and a celebration of all of the myriad young women who fall outside of the “romance heroine” mold. 

The novel’s voice captures Austen’s cadences and crispness without ever falling into pastiche; also like Austen, Hadlow is able to move seamlessly between comedy and pathos, irony and deep emotion. She gets both the details and the feelings of Austen’s world just right. But while this is certainly a book “Janeites” will love, its appeal is much wider than that—it’s a moving female coming of age tale even beyond the Austen connection, with a protagonist and a story that will resonate for many readers.

For anyone who has ever felt like the odd duck, the fifth wheel, the wallflower or the family disappointment, The Other Bennet Sister will have particular meaning. I’m one of those readers. Back in the day, I was a girl who had to wear glasses from the age of four on…felt like the oddball in an outgoing, physically attractive family…and retreated into reading and study both as a means of both hiding and survival. Though my story is nowhere near as stark as Mary Bennet’s—I am lucky enough to have been raised in a time, culture and family that offer women much wider options that she had and with an exponentially more supportive mother!—it took me many years to find myself, my calling and my “tribe.” Hadlow’s Mary Bennet resonated deeply for me, speaking authentically to the kind of search and stumbles I experienced. I’m confident that many others will feel the same.

In Hadlow’s novel, Mary’s glasses serve as a kind of symbol of how clearly we do, or don’t, see the world as well as ourselves. Mary earns every bit of the clear-sightedness she attains by book’s end, as well as the rewards that go with it. Kudos to Janice Hadlow for bringing her story—and with it the inner journey of so many readers—to such convincing life. 

[PLEASE NOTE: This is the review that will post to my online journal, SOCIETY NINETEEN, on 3.25.20; see link below. I'm also reviewing the book for Publishers Weekly.]
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THE OTHER  BENNET SISTER is perfect for Jane Austen fans and readers who enjoy re-tellings and historical fiction. Hadlow does a great job of capturing Austen's style and details of the time period. I enjoyed getting to see Mary's perspective - such a creative approach. My one caveat is that the first part of the story drags a bit, in part because we are "re-reading" Pride & Prejudice from Mary's viewpoint. The plot picks up during the second half of the book when Mary is coming into her own. Overall, I'm glad I stuck with it!
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