“In the midst of so large a family, (Mary) was utterly alone” and after the inevitable death of her father she is adrift in the world still attempting to find her place. I’ve often felt Mary was hard done by but this author manages to make me feel sorry even for Mr Collins and dislike the sweet Mr Bingley when they point out he only likes Jane because she’s beautiful. The book is something of a study in relationships. Charlotte becomes Mary’s confidant and they are so well suited you wonder why they weren’t friends before. Caroline Bingley rears her ugly head again as does Lady Catherine but it’s Mrs Bennet and her lack of affection for her daughter who is the real villain.
It’s a massive book, separated into five parts but it’s about half way through that it begins to feel like a different book. The first half is a continuation of Pride and Prejudice then at the half way mark it becomes your typical regency romance – a very drawn out one. The book is mostly told from Mary’s perspective (in third person) but we slide quietly into other characters thoughts and motivations reasonably regularly. At the start of the book there’s a sadness about her, a worry about finding her place which I identify with but makes it at times painful to read but don’t worry she has her happy ending.