Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
Modern-day wife and mother Alison Bateman is an ardent fan of Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice, and similar to that book’s matriarch, she has five daughters (and yes, they all have the same names, but that began more coincidentally than intentionally). However, unlike Mrs. Bennet, Alison Bateman is sensible, calm, and loves all her daughters equally. Unexpectedly, Alison finds herself transplanted into the pages of Pride and Prejudice, but instead of having a chance to be the heroine of the tale and fall in love with Mr. Darcy, Alison instead becomes the heroine’s mother and finds herself in the role of the noisy, small-minded nerve-obsessed Mrs. Bennet. But Alison still has control of her actions and thoughts, so perhaps she is becoming the heroine of her own Pride and Prejudice adventure after all…
Yes! What fun! I love Austen-inspired body swap stories! There have been many that have readers or modern-day women change places with someone in Jane Austen’s time: Attempting Elizabeth, Ditching Mr. Darcy, Searching for Captain Wentworth, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict to name a few. But this is the first time I’ve seen a reader step into the story as Mrs. Bennet! It seems an unconventional choice, yet at the same time a brilliant one as supplanting Mrs. Bennet can produce such dramatic changes in the lives of many of the story’s characters.
I immediately liked Alison Bateman at the beginning of the story, she is a no nonsense kind of mother and I loved seeing her happy yet-not-perfect relationships with her daughters and husband. And I grew to like her even more as she steps into the role of Mrs. Bennet with relish and determination. With actions that would be make any Janeite applaud Alison makes it her mission to work on Lydia Bennet! Woot woot! Attagirl, Alison! Readers cannot help but cheer her on as she goes toe-to-toe with spoiled and petulant Lydia!
And Alison doesn’t just stop there, she pays attention to all her daughters and provides what they need – whether it be notice, encouragement, or gentle steering in the right direction. It was heartwarming and oh-so-satisfying to see such harmonious and happy relationships amongst the Bennet family. I especially enjoyed witnessing the relationship develop between Mr. Bennet and Alison Bateman – I appreciated her initial exasperation and distance with him, and it was lovely to see Mr. Bennet’s reaction towards Alison and how he feels about his altered “wife.”
I really enjoyed seeing Alison adapt to her supposed “character” and experience all aspects of living in Jane Austen’s time. She makes Janeites proud as she does not make any terrible social blunders or speak with modern slang. Instead, she puts her Regency knowledge to good use while still adhering to her own natural habits and proclivities, such as: preferring not to take laudanum, having a penchant for morning walks, and requesting a bath whenever possible. (I don’t blame you Alison, I would do the same!) In addition, I absolutely loved seeing how Alison fan-girled at significant moments in Pride and Prejudice – such as meeting Elizabeth Bennet for the first time, visiting Pemberley, the Lady Catherine showdown.
My only small quibble for this book would perhaps be (SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT!) the moments when Alison revealed some things she shouldn’t. And even though she regrets what she revealed, I do sort’ve wished she didn’t do that in the first place. It would have been interesting to see how the story would have progressed without that knowledge being shared, but at the same time, I do understand why it might not have been possible.
With Being Mrs. Bennet, Alexa Adams once again delivers a well-crafted and inventive Austen-inspired tale that is very deserving of recognition and praise! A fantasy-filled adventure that is as diverting as it is astute! We definitely recommend!