The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet, by Colleen McCullough

Can you open a book review, by saying absolute rubbish.
After reading the first opening chapter, which I thought held some promise, from there onwards it was downhill. Victorian Gothic gone aerie. I enjoyed reading Sanditon, which was an unfinished manuscript of Jane Austen’s, which was finished in the style of her writing, so thought I might enjoy this.
Colleen Mccullough of ‘The Thorn Birds’ fame, made into the for TV series, and a book which I do very much like and would recommend, ‘The Ladies of Missalonghi‘, should never have gone down this path. I hope she writes another book to redeem herself.
Mary has been left at home, the spinster, to look after their mother, their father died two years after Lizzie and Jane married. It opens with mum dieing, Mary is now 38 and has changed so much as to be interesting and a beauty, in the line of Lizzie. She has saved up the allowance Darcy gave her for looking after the girls mother, keeping her off his hands and out of his way. With this money she intends to travel England, see the poor and write a book about it, publishing it with her own money. Mary very much likes the writings of Argus, a socially conscious person, who turns out to be Angus, the love interest in the story.
Lizzie and Jane’s marriages, have not turned out to be particularly happy. The story center’s around Mary, and Darcy’s hunger for power and his wanting to become Prime Minister, therefore having to keep his wife’s family under wraps. He regrets marrying beneath him. Lydia is an ongoing disgrace to the family.
Darcy has a younger half brother from his father’s liaison with a Jamaican lady of ill repute, who he has brought up. Ned is totally loyal and loves Darcy, who was good to him as a boy, but now as an adult willingly does his beckoning, what ever Darcy may call for and more.
Mary leaves on her travels, trying to do so as cheaply as possible, by stage coach. This leads to all sorts of problems. Eventually she is hijacked by a highwayman, found by Ned, then taken by a Father Dominus and The Children of Jesus, who live in the caves in Derby shire. Here she is held prisoner, to write a dictated book by Father Dominus. Who turns out to be an old servant of Darcy’s father. Stole the gold which was acquired illicitly by Darcy’s father and buried it under an alter in the caves. Mary thinks the children who he has acquired, probably from their parents for gin money, that help him in the caves and only leave at night, may be murdered when they reach adolescence.
Well need I say more. I did not read the book all the way through, just skipping through and read the end. It wasn’t worth the time.
Do read ‘The Ladies of Missalonghi‘ a delightful story.
Christy
P.S. Oh dear! I just found out that The Ladies of Missalonghi and L. M. Montgomery’s Blue Castle have a great similarity of ideas. I will have to find Blue Castle to read.
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