Mary B: A Novel: An untold story of Pride and Prejudice
“Ingenious . . . Mary B is a tribute not just to [Jane] Austen but to defiant women of any era.”—USA Today
The overlooked middle sister in Pride and Prejudice casts off her prim exterior and takes center stage in this fresh retelling of the classic novel.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY REAL SIMPLE
What is to be done with Mary Bennet? She possesses neither the beauty of her eldest sister, Jane, nor the high-spirited wit of second-born Lizzy. Even compared to her frivolous younger siblings, Kitty and Lydia, Mary knows she is lacking in the ways that matter for single, not-so-well-to-do women in nineteenth-century England who must secure their futures through the finding of a husband. As her sisters wed, one by one, Mary pictures herself growing old, a spinster with no estate to run or children to mind, dependent on the charity of others. At least she has the silent rebellion and secret pleasures of reading and writing to keep her company.
But even her fictional creations are no match for the scandal, tragedy, and romance that eventually visit Mary’s own life. In Mary B, readers are transported beyond the center of the ballroom to discover that wallflowers are sometimes the most intriguing guests at the party. Beneath Mary’s plain appearance and bookish demeanor simmers an inner life brimming with passion, humor, and imagination—and a voice that demands to be heard.
Set before, during, and after the events of Pride and Prejudice, Katherine J. Chen’s vividly original debut novel pays homage to a beloved classic while envisioning a life that is difficult to achieve in any era: that of a truly independent woman.
Praise for Mary B
“Charming and smart . . . a heedless downhill pleasure—plush, ironic and illuminating.”—Newsday
“Watching [Mary] come into her own is a delight.”—People
“A new, wholly original perspective on the classic . . . This is the ultimate Austen adaptation for our time.”—Real Simple
“The best part about Mary’s star turn is that it bears little relation to the fates of her sisters. She’s a simmering, churning, smart woman determined to concoct an independent life.”—The Washington Post
Katherine J. Chen is a graduate of Princeton University. This is her first novel.