Monday, 10 December 2012

The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet by Colleen McCullough (AUDIO BOOK VERSION)

OH NO NERD ALERT!!!! I love public libraries. Besides books, you can also get dvds, cds, magazines and surf the internet. There are free activities for little kids, like story time and art and craft. Adults can meet up and discuss books, brush up on their computer skills and meet new people. It makes me happy that there is a peaceful place where everyone can go to chill out and learn something new.
I recently discovered that my library offers ebooks and audio books to download for free. Check to see whether your library does.  The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet by Colleen McCullough is one of the audiobooks that I borrowed from the library.
The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet is a spinoff of the book Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  Mary Bennet is a minor character in Pride and Prejudice. She is Elizabeth Bennet’s sister who is the main character of Pride and Prejudice.

Mary is a perfect candidate for a spin off because there’s not much about her in Pride and Prejudice. She’s a dull person who is too pious and serious. Mary is the fun police, the kill joy. Mary is the middle child with no close relationships in her family. Elder sisters Elizabeth and Jane have a strong friendship. Younger sisters Lydia and Kitty are in cahoots. Mr Bennet’s favourite daughter is Elizabeth and Mrs Bennet loves Lydia and Jane.
So, there are lot of spin offs about Mary learning to lighten up and getting her own happily ever after. The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet takes place twenty years later from where Pride and Prejudice left off. While the other Bennet girls fell in love and got married, Mary stayed to look after her aging mother.

The Bennet Girls. Mary is the dowdy one in the right hand corner.  

When Mrs Bennet dies, Mary is left wondering what to do with herself. At age thirty seven she is considered unmarriageable but that doesn’t worry her because she doesn’t want to get married. Mary is determined to lead an independent life which was a radical idea for someone in her situation. She’s a lady of comfortable means and from a respectable family so to work for a living is frowned upon.
There were limited job opportunities for women in the 18th century; Mary doesn’t want to be a nurse or a governess, she wants to be a bigger impact on the world.  She decides to write a book about the plight of the poor.
The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet received a lot of bad reviews. Some people stop reading it after the first chapters. While McCullough keeps within the same style of Jane Austen’s writing, her interpretation of the characters are drastically different.  What really irks people about the book is the relationship between Elizabeth and Darcy.  They are one of the most romantic couples of all time so it’s hard for Austen fans to read about the Darcys’ unhappiness (don’t worry they have a reconciliation).

Mr and Mrs Darcy

Mary gets into all kinds of situations which would never happen in an Austen novel. There’s kidnapping, murder, drunkenness, sex and foul language in the novel which is another factor to why some people dislike the book. Jane Austen books are about relationships, romance and social class but in a refined way.
 Initially, I didn’t want to continue listening to the audiobook but I learnt to like it. I really enjoyed listening to the audiobook. I was able to multitask while listening to the audiobook. The only thing I didn’t like was trying to find where I had left off whenever I had to shut down the computer. I’d love hear what you thought about the book or about your public library.
 (images sourced by google images)

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