THE INDEPENDENCE OF MISS MARY BENNET
McCullough jumps on the Austen
bandwagon with her interpretation
of what happened to Mary Bennet
20 years after Pride and Prejudice. Though Mary is the main focus of this "sequel," the Bennet sisters and Darcy play key roles, fleshing out the world McCullough has created. Purists may find this version surprising and shockingly violent. However, if read on its own readers will see a tangled tale of
a family caught in a web of ambition.
Since her sisters left home Mary has been her cantankerous mother's caretaker. Mrs. Bennet's death frees her to follow her dream of helping the poor.
Meanwhile Elizabeth is trapped in her marriage as Darcy pursues his political career, domestic Jane cares for her brood of boys, flighty Lily parties and widowed Kitty is the town gossip. They are pulled together when Mary is robbed and abducted by the leader of a cult. Darcy, more concerned about hushing up the Bennet's scandals, sends his henchman, Ned Skinner, to deal with the problems as secrets, intrigue and love are revealed. (SIMON AND SCHUSTER, Feb., 352 pp., $26.00)