Apr 192013

A Look into the Soul and Heart of Mary Bennet

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Source: Review Copy from Author

Mary Bennet. Is. An island. Or at least she tries to be… Growing up a home where she was continuously ignored, laughed at, and set down – Mary has built up defensive walls around herself. She prides herself on maintaing power over her emotions, of being impenetrable to the trials andtrivialities that surround her. Instead of trying to prove herself as “the most accomplished girl in the neighborhood,” Mary has spent the last couple of years achieving some independence by working as a governess to the new family living in Netherfield Park. But when her father passes away and the new owner of Longbourn comes to Meryton, Mary’s hard-won composure and self-control is put to the test…

Squee!!! Mary Bennet is such an admirable and loveable heroine in this novel! Experience and serious self-evaluation has helped Mary lose some of her vanity and pride. Working with children and witnessing the blissful unions of her older sisters has softened her rigidity and self-righteousness. I simply loved this reverent and plausible development of Mary Bennet’s character. Shannon Winslow did such an incredible job of maintaining the essence of the original Mary Bennet, yet at the same time, transforming her into a fully realized and fleshed-out heroine.

Here are some passages which perfectly display the emotional evolution Mary experiences in this novel:

“Despite her determination to remain cool-headed, uninvited emotions had instantly assailed her…she felt as if the combined pressure would burst her heart wide open, and it seemed impossible that her companions should remain unaware of her painful inner turmoil.” – page 116

“In the past, she had been able to moralize over the infamous sins of others with superior self-satisfaction, both because she had maintained a degree of detachment from their plights, and because she had never been tempted to such behavior herself. Could she say the same now?” – page 257

One of my favorite aspects of The Darcys of Pemberley (book one in this series) was the original and well-drawn characters Shannon Winslow created, Ruth Sanditon and Mr. Sanditon. In Return to Longbourn, Ms. Winslow fashions two more engaging and intriguing characters – Tristan Collins, younger brother to William Collins and heir to Longbourn, and Harrison Farnsworth, the taciturn widower of Netherfield Park and Mary’s employer. Both characters added some interesting drama, excitement, and romance to the story!

Another aspect of this novel that I was utterly delighted with was the subtle nods to Jane Eyre and Sense and Sensibility. With Mary as a governess, Mr. Farnsworth as an unpredictable and brooding master, and a large house party of fashionable friends I was often reminded of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (one of my all-time faves). In addition, a story of two unwed, diverse sisters – one impulsive and emotional, the other practical and stoic – felt reminiscent of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. And Tristan Collins, a newly arrived bachelor whose charming facade hides some secrets, seemed to share some similarities with Willoughby!

As you might already guess by reading the above review, I loved Return to Longbourn and recommend it to all fans of Austenesque literature! Reverent, enthralling, and magnificent!


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  11 Responses to “Return to Longbourn – Shannon Winslow”


    Hi Meredith!
    Mary deserves a beautiful story like her others sisters. It’s a pleasure to find references to Jane Eyre because, as you say, add more intrigue and romance. I haven’t read any book of Shannon Winslow yet but if you are so pleased with it, it must be a “must have” in our collections of austenesque novels. Have a nice day!


      I have a soft spot for Mary (especially when she isn’t sermonizing!) and I am so VERY glad that Shannon Winslow gave her such a lovely tale! 🙂 If you like Mary this is definitely a “must have!” 🙂


    I haven’t read this one yet and it sounds good. Love Mary getting her chance! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


    I can’t believe the goofy comments I read sometimes. smiles I really need to read Shannon’s book. The first was very good. I don’t know how I missed the fact that this novel is about Mary and her maturing and changes in life. Sounds like I really need to read this one.


      Yes, blogger isn’t doing such a good job of catching all my spam lately… :/

      I think you will love this book, suzan! Especially if you enjoyed the first one!


    I’m thrilled that you liked the book so much, Meredith! The “Jane Eyre” turn in the story wasn’t premeditated, btw. It was just a delightful surprise that developed as I wrote. Harrison Farnsworth simply refused to keep to the supporting role I had assigned him. He insisted on charging off into “leading man” territory!


      I love that your character had a mind of his own! And I wouldn’t change a thing about him – he was fantastic! Thanks for writing such a wonderful book, Shannon!


    This entire series is on my TBR list. I can’t wait to read them!



    I haven’t read this one yet and it sounds good. Love Mary getting her chance! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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