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vilja

Vilja Reads

I'm a student, so I don't have nearly as much time for leisure reading as I'd like. If I manage to read an entire course book instead of just the assigned chapters, I'll review that here, too.

Independence of Miss Mary Bennet

The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet - Colleen McCullough Overall, I found this novel enjoyable. It did, however, have such an easily quantifiable incidents of win and fail that I will attempt to list them here.

Of course, you might not agree. I realize that for many what I cound as wins they would rather be quantified as fails, and vice versa.

Spoilers below!

Win:
- Mr Darcy is a dreadful lay.
- Lydia uses the C-word and calls Mr Darcy a bugger. At an important dinner.
- The f-word is used.
- So are Austenish run-on sentences.
- Mary, the heroine, acts wonderfully "spinstery", wanting to write a book on "the ills of England" and wearing dreadful clothes and giving everyone stern advice on education of children.
- Caroline Bingley finds a useful occupation.
- This novel is definitely not above character assassination.
- The poker up Mr Darcy's arse didn't just magically disappear at the end of Pride and Prejudice, and still doesn't.
- The poker gets mentioned by one character.
- Mr Darcy is somewhat sinister and certainly not likeable (though he gets better).
- Gay people and premarital sex exist.
- Mary's love interest, while sort of handsome, is not perfectly so, and rather funny-looking. Also I actually liked him. This is not commonplace - characters written to be the hero or heroine's lovers tend to be dreadful one-dimensional dreamboats.
- Jane's character is flawed.
- Mr Bingley owns sugar plantations in the Caribbean, i.e. keeps slaves.
- There was a scene with the Bennet sisters with birch rods and aprons vs 50 rowdy uneducated children.
- Good characterisation all around.
- 40-something romance with no 20-something romance to upstage it.
- Some good banter, like between Mary and Angus in the end.
- Not really a comment on the novel, but at the end of the book you had adverts for the author's other books, and one of them was a thriller. It could be evidence of the author's wide interests or a ruthless attempt to corner all markets; either way, I like it. It also makes me think some of the fail listed below might instead be a deliberate attempt to court romance novel enthusiasts, though, quite frankly, I think the author lost them at "Mr Darcy is a terrible lay."

Fail:
- The only non-white character in the novel, Ned, while intelligent and articulate, was somewhat evil, slavishly devoted to Mr Darcy, and described in the end by Elizabeth as being like a "great, black loyal dog". I'm not, shall we say, entirely comfortable with that going unchallenged by the author.
- A murder is blamed on someone innocent of it who conveniently turns out to be guilty of other murders.
- Mary in her more advanced age had become beautiful and was (I suspect to suit contemporary fashion) elegantly thin and, oh god, had lavender eyes. So wholly unnecessary!
- Elizabeth also, unfortunately, had lavender eyes.
- Mr Darcy and his son's rift is rather conveniently smoothed over and then they talk about it. Clumsy.
- The romances and marital issues were resolved rather too conveniently too.
- Elizabeth's children were a touch too adorable.
- Elizabeth in one scene walks to Mr Darcy on her knees, so we can get a good romance novel cover pose with her at his feet. What.
- There's a proposal on a flowering field in the first scene in which Mary actually wears a nice dress.
- For many chapters Mary is in peril in a dungeon. (But then I think this might be ironic, a reference to gothic romances.)
- Minor issue, but the author's punctuation. Disturbed me. Sometimes you just should use a comma. Instead of a full stop. Is what I think.
- At the end of the book there was also an advert for another book by the author and this one was about the love of Cleopatra and Mark Antony. Makes it harder to respect the author. Then again the thriller advert sort of negates it.

In conclusion: It was not terrible and I rather enjoyed it, despite its flaws. It's not easy to judge on a novel that has both unforgivable fail and such priceless win.

(I might add to this later if I think of more points of contentions.)