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Mary B: An Untold Story of Pride and Prejudice
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Mary B: An Untold Story of Pride and Prejudice

2.97  ·  Rating details ·  121 Ratings  ·  75 Reviews
The overlooked middle sister in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice casts off her prim exterior and takes center stage in this fresh retelling of the classic novel.

I will tell you the story of how I knew myself to be plain and therefore devoid of the one virtue which it behooves every woman to have.

What is to be done with Mary Bennet? She possesses neither the beauty of her
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: July 24th 2018 by Random House (first published June 24th 2018)
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Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley

I still count Pride and Prejudice as my favorite novel of all time. So, it’s always with some trepidation that I tackle any book that’s meant as a continuation or spin off or story told from a different viewpoint. There have been some that have worked well. Longbourn comes to mind. But Mary B, not so much. Told from the perspective of Mary, the plain, nose in a book, middle sister, it was boring in the extreme. Mary longs to be noticed, by her father, by the young officers, by Mr. Collins, by an
Sherwood Smith
Warning, a semi-spoilers rant ahead.

The latest cash-in on Jane Austen, I think, might have been an okay book if it had been set in Austen's period with original characters, instead of wrenching and distorting the plot, characters, and moral substrate of Pride and Prejudice out of all recognition (amid countless details of the period gotten wrong) in order to turn it into melodrama with a contemporary moral overlay.

Chen's narrative voice attempts a period flavor, without being aware of period tur
J. W. Garrett
“Gloom, despair, and agony on me… Deep, dark depression, excessive misery…” GLOOM, DESPAIR AND AGONY ON ME From the TV show “Hee-Haw” (1969 – 1992) Buch Owens & Roy Clark

Warning: To those who love P&P and Austen’s characters… this could be hazardous to your blood pressure. What was I thinking? Apparently, I wasn’t. Reading a story that features secondary and even tertiary characters of a popular book is iffy at best. This story focused on Mary, the middle child of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet in
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Jul 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
Die-hard Jane Austen fans, those especially smitten with Pride and Prejudice, may find themselves in a fit of rage or tears (...or both) if they pick up this retelling covering the events before, during, and after the timeline of the original story.

Told by overlooked middle sister Mary Bennet, she explains how she understood from a young age that she was not valued as her older sisters were because she was plain and unlikely to find a suitable husband. 

Mr. Collins, the cousin who will take contr
Apr 08, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was really excited to read a book about an often overlooked character from Pride and Prejudice, Mary Bennet. Unfortunately I did not end up liking the book at all. The author seemed to go out of her way to make every other character in the beloved book become selfish and awful in order to elevate Mary to heroine material. I was very upset with how Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth were betrayed and it made no sense at all. If you are a true Pride and Prejudice fan I would not read this book.
Judy Lesley
This is not a sympathetic Pride and Prejudice variation. Readers for these books usually fall roughly into three categories: (1) the readers who want a new slant but keeping the main characters intact, (2) the readers who want to go completely off the rails from the original story, or (3) those who are reading for the historical fiction alone with no particular interest in Jane Austen's work. I fall into the first category and consequently found this variation changed too many characters' person ...more
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Okay... So, here’s what we’re not going to do... we are not going to take THE most beloved characters of THE most beloved classic, and rewrite them to be completely and utterly devoid of the virtues and morals that made Pride & Prejudice the masterpiece that it is.

You want to expand and expound upon what happened after the I Do’s at Pemberley? — fine. You want to imagine what it must have been like for a middle daughter to watch happiness appear to pass her by in favor of her more reputedly
Kristin Davison
Apr 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: arcs
2.5 stars

I would like to thank netgalley and Random House Publishing for the opportunity to read this book.

Just about any tragic thing that could happen to the Bennets did happen to them in this book. The plot became ridiculous and the only redeeming feature is that lots of books from the time period were mentioned.
May 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
As I worked my way through the first third to half of the book, I came to the realization that its biggest challenge is Mary Bennett. She is just not that likable. You do feel a little sorry for her, but at the same time, she is her own worst enemy. Honestly, she's irritating.

What I did like about the book is how it makes you truly realize just how limited the choices were for women in those days. Marriage was the goal and women were judged by how much money they might bring to the union and/or
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-07, netgalleyarc
Full review closer to publication date, but here are a couple of quick comments.

In the JAFF world there are many unwritten rules which most authors follow. This story basically breaks almost all of those rules. Chen chooses to demonstrate a few things which may have been hidden from the reader during the main story of Pride and Prejudice. In addition, characters change after Austen’s story ends in ways that pushed me out of my comfort zone.

Mary B is such a stretch for this hardcore reader of P
Linda Zagon
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Katherine J. Chen, Author of "Mary B" An Untold Story of Pride and Prejudice, writes her novel on Mary Bennet the middle sister.  The author deals with "What if"about Mary  using a unique and fresh perspective. In the original "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austin, there is very little input about Mary. The other sisters overshadow Mary, and with their mother's aggressive approach to marrying well, is  basically ignored. In Katherine J. Chen's novel, Mary is set stage and center. The Genres for t ...more
Tammy Buchli
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book surprised me. Throughout the first third, I was convinced it was a 2-star book. I caught a number of anachronisms and the descriptions (a slovenly Longbourne and a diminutive Mr. Collins) made me think more of the Keira Knightly film than the original novel. But something happened once the action moved past the end of Austen’s tale — the last 2/3rds of this thing was GREAT! I read a lot of Austen variations and I appreciate one that goes all in and makes some real changes to the canon. ...more
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: retold-classic
This made me so, so angry. I thought it might be interesting to read a novel from the point of view of the overlooked, oblivious Mary, and looked forward to reading it, but the characters and surroundings are so twisted around as to be almost unrecognizable - if it had been an original novel about a family nobody had ever written about, maybe it would have been good, but you just can't take one of the most beloved heroines in all English literature and turn her into a malicious, selfish, cold wo ...more
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Mary Bennett begins her story with, "A child does not grow up with the knowledge that she is plain of dull or a complete simpleton until the accident of some event should reveal these unfortunate truths," later adding "It was therefore acknowledged" that all beauty and goodness and intelligence had been given to Jane and Lizzie, while Kitty and Lydia had ignorance, and Mary herself plainness.

The child Mary saw her future as an old maid, dependent on the charity of her married sisters, unloved an
Jun 26, 2018 rated it liked it
(If you are a Janeite like me, you may well feel that this well-written "untold" story of P&P should have remained untold.)

Was it Orson Welles who said, "If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story"? So author Katherine Chen wants a happy ending for Mary, perhaps the least popular (well, in a tie with the odious Lydia) Bennet sister from Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Poor Mary, not sweet and beautiful like sister Jane, not pretty, lively and quick-
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story is about exploring different endings than what was envisioned in Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Prejudice. The middle sister, Mary, is perceived as plain and that is how she lives her life. Until one day, she decides to escape her boring life and start writing… The writing starts Mary Bennett on a fantastic journey of adventure and heartbreak, love and sorrow as she grows into who she wants Mary B to become. Mary B is a regular pioneer in her time, fighting against the stereotypes of ...more
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
From a very young age Mary Bennet realised that she was of no consequence to her family. She would never make a match that could save her family, that was for Jane. In this variation and sequel we read of events from Mary's point of view, her view of her relations which have been coloured by her perception of her worth.
I really enjoyed this, it is a wonderful change to actually read about the flaws of the main characters from P&P, which can then send them in a different direction.
This is no
Aleen ~Lampshade Reader
A truly unique take on the world of P&P, with Mary being the main character. Imaginative and different, take all of your preconceived notions about P&P and hold them back; don't bring them with you while reading this. If you are a fan of P&P (like I am), you will be shocked by the liberties the author took with all of the beloved characters. There's already a lot of controversy about this book and all of the negative press that it's receiving. This actually made me want to read the n ...more
Becky S
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you go into this expecting it to be like the original book, then you won't like it. Nice twist on a classic by spinning off of it and developing another sister. Go into it with an open mind and you'll enjoy it for what it is.
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
It is a bold, and perhaps dangerous, mission to "reimagine" a much beloved classic novel like PRIDE & PREJUDICE. Ms. Chen demonstrated courage in taking on this challenge, as well as skill in presenting her story.

Make no mistake, rabid Austenites may be outraged. The characters in Mary B do not conform to Ms. Austen's script and, although I really enjoyed the book, I did not approve of the behavior of most of the characters. Let's just agree that the reader who enjoys the book, as I did, has
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: retellings
I really liked this book. While I am sure that Austen fans will be split on the book as it definitely upsets the fairy tale ending to Pride and Prejudice, I was fascinated to see the transpiring events through Mary's eyes. Chen's in-depth look at a socially awkward girl who never quite fit in with her family and social circle was well-done, and I enjoyed the surprise of seeing Mary bond with Darcy during and after Austen's novel. Most readers would be able to relate and connect with Mary in some ...more
Anya Leonard
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
At first I was skeptical, having been a huge fan of all books Jane Austen. I enjoyed Longbourn, I enjoyed Austenland, and seeing that this book was due to be published, I knew I had to jump on the opportunity and fast. The story revolves around Mary Bennet, the least talked about member of the Bennet family. The story takes liberties surrounding relationships between characters and post-P&P stories I'm sure some will be unhappy with, but after having followed the Elizabeth Bennet/Mr. Darcy s ...more
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Jane Austen fans, underdog fans
Prepare to change your opinion about the ladies of Longbourn. Mary Bennett, the middle Bennett child, is typically used as an example in high school English literature exercises about flat, static characters. Katherine Chen's Mary Bennett is anything but static and flat, and the authoress takes the reader upon a journey through Mary's rich inner life. Mary's voice is fresh and lively, sounding like an Austen character and Regency Era lady, and there are but few times an expression or two might t ...more
Apr 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: arcs
*This ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

First of all, I generally enjoyed this retelling. The author's writing was engaging all the way through, taking advantage of my already-existing fondness for the characters of Austen's Pride and Prejudice.
That being said, I'm not sure I totally buy some of the characterizations as compared to the original novel. The Lizzy of Chen's "Mary B." may not necessarily resemble the Lizzy brought to the page by Austen,
Dawn Wells
I was super excited to read this book as pride and prejudice is one of my favorite books and I wanted to enjoy Mary’s story. This one was a slight disappointment. I do believe the author tried heard to give a voice to Mary’s character. Unfortunately, it was hard on the other characters which didn’t feel honest or real to me. So, it made it a long, bore of a read.
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mary B, an imagining from the perspective of the middle Bennet daughter from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, gives readers a slice of life at Longbourne (and later Pemberley) before, during, and after the events of the much loved novel. The plot is organized into three parts, each with a specific tone (maudlin?, venturesome?, introspective?) suggestive of Mary’s own levels of self-realization.

As the story begins, the character of Mary is established as a person who has already largely accepte
Maggie Holmes
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am a big Jane Austen fan and I think if she were reading now she would like this telling of Mary's story. Chen uses some of the scenes from P&P, but shows them from Mary's point of view. I don't know if I think Lizzie would have acted as she does in this book, but I can see why it is a valid approach. I loved the novel within this book about the Danish queen. That was a hoot. It supplies the humor that is missing from the rest of the book. Good descriptions of Pemberley.

May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mary Bennet, undervalued by all, finds her redemption through writing. Chen provides sidelights on Austen's characters that bring a new depth to the events depicted in Pride and Prejudice - Elizabeth Darcy is not as fun as we imagined her, and Mr Collins reveals why he is so obsequious.
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! If you are a die-hard Pride and Prejudice fan tread with caution, it will throw off everything you love about Pride and Prejudice. I loved how beautifully the author captures the nuances of being Mary. The book reveals just the right amount and yet leaves you wanting for more. The book is upsetting, it's happy, it's sad, it's everything you'd expect a novel to be when talking of Mary B.
I loved it!
Apr 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I am a sucker for almost any period piece whether it is literature, a play or some other literary device. However to make this book palatable I had to suspend any and all comparisons with the book it was supposed to imitate. OK, Pride and Prejudice is out of the mix and I am looking at this as a new period piece set in England during that wonderful period where women counted for less than nothing.

The characters in the book are despicable, unlikeable, miserable people who prey upon one another’s
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