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Friday, December 28, 2012

"The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet" by Colleen McCullough~AudioBook Review


Lizzy Bennet married Mr. Darcy, Jane Bennet married Mr. Bingley - but what became of the middle daughter, Mary? Readers of Pride and Prejudice will remember that there were five Bennet sisters. Now, 20 years on, Jane has a happy marriage and large family; Lizzy and Mr. Darcy now have a formidable social reputation; Lydia has a reputation of quite another kind; Kitty is much in demand in London's parlors and ballrooms; but what of Mary? Mary is quietly celebrating her independence, having nursed her ailing mother for many years. She decides to write a book to bring the plight of the poor to everyone's attention. But with more resolve than experience, as she sets out to travel around the country, it's not only her family who are concerned about her....


  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 13 hours and 39 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: AudioGO
  • Audible.com Release Date: January 13, 2009
  • Whispersync for Voice: Ready
  • Language: English 
    Purchase:  Amazon
    Colleen McCullough, a native of Australia, established the department of neurophysiology at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney before working as a researcher at Yale Medical School for ten years. She is the bestselling author of numerous novels, including The Thorn Birds, and lives with her husband on Norfolk Island in the South Pacific.
    I took a risk.  It's been many a year since I've read anything by Colleen McCullough, let alone listened to anything.  "The Thorn Birds" was the height of a wonder to me in my young adult years, and I couldn't find any of Ms McCullough's books interesting or worthy since that one.  But, along comes this one, and I decided I'd try it on audio, though it's already been out since 2009.  Since this is Christmas Week and dedicated to Jane Austen, I thought it would be an interesting addition. 
    If you've listed to the excerpt above, I hope you've found as I did, that the narrator is an excellent one.  She has a beautiful British accent and employs it for different characters wonderfully!  I thought she was thoroughly entertaining and set the stage well for McCullough's story.
    I found the audio version and book, as well, brought mixed reviews on Amazon, but I fell in the stronger segment of them.  First, I didn't find Ms McCullough's artistic license where the Austen characters was concerned at all off-putting.  I loved seeing them shaken up!  It was a bit of a sting to the heart to initially find Darcy and Lizzie didn't end up in marital bliss, but I'm not giving anything away when I say this was an early stage in the novel.  And, Mary is a brilliant character as she's developed here!  I love her new-found spunk!  Lydia is...well, Lydia.  And, you'll find Jane's life interesting and full.  Life isn't stagnant no matter who we are, and why should it be so with the Darcy's and the Bennets?
    The storyline is a good one with strong plot development except toward the middle.  It lags somewhat and seems contrived when Mary finds herself in a nightmare of a bind....  That particular area is foggy and could have been better conceived.  The character involved in Mary's plight was strange, to me.  I know I'm being vague, but I don't want to spoil the story for you.
    This is an audio book I absolutely loved listening to while I knitted holiday gifts.  It made the hours fly by.  I loved the whole idea of bringing Mary to the forefront and giving her a feminist nature.  I  highly recommend this one for your Janeite library and for gift-giving to an Austen lover.  While it has received mixed reviews, I think most have been from those who are purists and who can't stretch their imaginations for a good time!  My sense is that Jane would love this one from a brilliant author.
    5 stars!                Deborah/TheBookishDame



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