Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Even though she has a sober disposition, a penchant for sermonizing, and can be a little vain about her accomplishments, I have always had a soft spot for Mary Bennet. Maybe it is because I feel sympathy for her loneliness and her family’s neglect. Or maybe it is because like Mary, I am fond of reading and playing the piano. Or maybe it is because I love it when an unlikely and unexpected heroine finds her happiness! For all these reasons combined I am always eager to read more about her character’s journey, and I happily seek out any Austenesque stories this feature the prudent and practical Bennet daughter.
In this delightful novella by Victoria Kincaid, Mary is seeking refuge in the gardens during her sisters’ wedding breakfast. She is perhaps a little despondent because she will greatly miss her sisters and, despite her hopes, believes that she and Kitty will not grow closer during their absence. Also seeking refuge in the gardens is Colonel Fitzwilliam. Our genial and easy-going Colonel has had his fair share of lively young ladies admiring his regimentals and blissfully happy couples that are so deeply in love. He escapes to the gardens and it is there he comes across Mary Bennet with whom he spends some time conversing. And what he discovers about her is surprising…
While both Mary and the Colonel feel a new connection with each other, they both know that this friendship cannot become anything more. Especially as the Colonel needs to marry an heiress and is about to return to war…
What I loved most about this story was Ms. Kincaid’s portrayals of Mary and Colonel Fitzwilliam (Fitz). I love that both spoke to each other with such unreserved frankness, and I enjoyed how they were both romantic idealists in nature but govern themselves to think and act rationally. It was wonderful to learn that Mary has some atypical interests (aside from Fordyce’s Sermons), and I greatly admired her bold actions and initiative (especially when she broke some rules of priority). In addition, I loved witnessing Fitz’s romantic yearnings and his earnest way of speaking to Mary. Seeing him become impassioned and encourage Mary to think better of herself was very swoon-worthy!
I loved the journey Ms. Kincaid took us on with Mary and the Colonel, and I happily found myself endeared by and believing in their romance. I did sometimes wish for a few scene more, or that some of the events developed a bit more gradually. But overall, I adored this unique, heartwarming, and sincere Pride and Prejudice novella.