Apr 182018
 

Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Bennet’s Perspective

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Source: Review Copy from Author

Instead of retelling Pride and Prejudice from the hero’s point-of-view as many authors have done before, Mark Brownlow opts to share another character’s unique perspective. While not present for much of the action in Jane Austen’s tale and often described as indolent and apathetic, Mr. Brownlow shows us there is much more to Jane Austen’s sardonic and bookish gentleman farmer and father of five In the first book of this series (not sure how many books are planned at the moment), readers will see Mr. Bennet’s thoughts as Mr. Bingley, Mr. Collins, and the militia come into town, learn more about his past and early adulthood, and encounter several new characters, including the young John Barton who seeks Mr. Bennet’s help. In order to help his friend’s son, Mr. Bennet becomes embroiled in speculation, schemes, strategies, and thankfully copious amounts of sponge cake!

I love alternative point-of-view stories, especially when the author thoughtfully develops the character and shows some previously unknown facets of their life. In Cake and Courtship readers learn all about Mr. Bennet’s habits – his trips to bookstores, his reading preferences, his interests in insects and the natural world, and his Meryton Natural History Society meetings (which I loved!). Not only do I appreciate that Mr. Brownlow fleshed-out Mr. Bennet’s character, I admire how he did it. Mr. Bennet’s friends were a delight to encounter and I enjoyed seeing Mr. Bennet’s interactions with them.

Even with the arrivals of Mr. Bingley and the militia causing its usual stir, Mr. Brownlow introduces one more significant bachelor to the mix, the son of his comrade in arms – John Barton. John Barton is a most intriguing new addition as he grew up as a playmate of Jane and Elizabeth but for the last decade or more has been traveling the world. Now John has returned and is seeking Mr. Bennet’s advice in an area that Mr. Bennet feels very ill-qualified to provide counsel in – how to successfully court a lady.

It seems John has fallen for a lady at first sight, without being introduced to her! I loved seeing Mr. Bennet commiserate with John’s plight and contemplate ways to help him out. While he is a realist and will tell John exactly how bleak the situation is, he is also somewhat of a romantic and never allows John to abandon hope. I loved following along on this shared romantic adventure and witnessing all the schemes and surprises in store for both Mr. Bennet and John. Especially Mr. Barton tongue-tied attempts at conversation with his fair lady love that turn into unexpected verbal sparring matches. My only quibble is that the romance felt like it changed pace a little too swiftly towards the end.

I enjoyed how this retelling shed some light on Mr. Bennet’s past and his own romantic history. So many readers wonder why and how he came to be married to Mrs. Bennet, and it looks like Mr. Brownlow has laid the foundation to shed some light on that time in Mr. Bennet’s life. To learn that he has been in love and lives with disappointment paints him as quite the tragic hero, and I personally cannot wait to see what else we learn about his romantic past. (It might terrible of me to say it, but part of me hopes he somehow finds his own happiness in love!)

What a splendid debut to this series!  With subtle wit, charm, and cleverness Mark Brownlow proves he can capture the essence and spirit of Jane Austen’s sardonic Mr. Bennet. This is the spotlight on Mr. Bennet for which I have been waiting and I am excessively eager to see this series continue!

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  26 Responses to “Cake and Courtship (Mr. Bennet’s Memoirs Book 1) – Mark Brownlow”

  1.  

    I, too, read this story. It does leave one wanting more, IMHO. I was not expecting that there would be so little about Darcy and/or Bingley in this story. I am not expecting a happy ending for Mr. Bennet as it would mean that Mrs. Bennet would have to disappear. But I am hoping to read about the romances of his own daughters in future books. Great review.

    •  

      It will be interesting to see if Mr. Bennet becomes more involved with his daughters now that he has had a little experience with assisting John. I didn’t mind that we didn’t see Mr. Darcy in this story, and I guess it didn’t surprise me since Mr. Bennet doesn’t have a lot of interaction with him in Jane Austen’s novel. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next book brings!

  2.  

    Looking forward to reading this, having won a copy of the paperback

  3.  

    So looking forward to reading this one Meredith! I loved your review as it gives us enough insight without really giving away the details. Getting a history on Mr. Bennet and fleshing him out can only be a positive. So glad you loved it!

    •  

      Thank you, Carole! I so appreciate you saying so! I’m worried I get close to spoiling parts, it’s hard because I want to bring up what I liked about the book! I hope you get the chance to read it soon!

  4.  

    Great review, Meredith!

  5.  

    I, too, like the fleshing out of minor characters from our favorite novels (I have written the story of Kitty Bennet), and am very interested to read this about Mr. Bennet. His marriage to the unlikely Mrs. Bennet just begs for explanation!

    •  

      It does! There is an interesting story there for sure! That’s so wonderful that you wrote a story for Kitty Bennet! I love when secondary characters come into the spotlight!

  6.  

    Looking forward to reading this soon! It seems such an original idea, to have the story told from Mr Bennet’s point of view. Lovely review Meredith. You’re clearly itching to read more of this series. I wonder what we’ll find out about the Bennet family next.

    •  

      Thank you for checking out my review, Elaine! Yes, I am! It should be interesting to see what is in store! 🙂 I love seeing things from Mr. Bennet’s perspective!

  7.  

    I’ve long wished for a telling from Mr Bennet’s point of view that could actually do justice to his intellect. Sounds like this is a possibility! Thank you for bringing it to our notice.

  8.  

    Looking forward to reading this.

    denise

  9.  

    I’m really looking forward to reading this. I entered a lot of the competitions to win it but unfortunately wasn’t one of the lucky ones. I have a soft spot for Mr Bennett and will enjoy seeing his character fleshed out. I also didn’t realise it was a series . Even better.

  10.  

    I confess that I am vastly curious because this one is from Mr. Bennet’s perspective. Glad to see that it has some depth and insight as well as a behind the scenes feel.

  11.  

    Definitely different and interesting. Lovely review Meredith. As with most other books which are part of a series I will wait until they are all published then I can read them all in one go. This Mr Bennet does seem to be a bit more involved with family life so that’s very welcome.

    •  

      Thank you, Glynis! That is a wise choice! I’m not sure when the next installment will be published, but I know I’m eager for it! 😉 Yes, Mr. Bennet is being pulled into action a little bit. It will be interesting to see if he continues to be as active.

  12.  

    I’m a fan of minor/secondary character books, so this one has to go on the list. There are days I see my own father in Jane’s Mr. B so I look forward to reading this!

  13.  

    Excellent review Meredith. This certainly sounds interesting. Thanks for giving us the low-down. Have a great rest of the week. Oh… and Hello to Mr. Bingley.

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