Audiobook Review: The Other Bennet Sister

The Other Bennet Sister
by Janice Hadlow
Narrated by: Carla Mendonça
Length: 18 hrs and 10 mins
Release date: 03-31-20
Publisher: Macmillan Audio


Mary, the bookish ugly duckling of Pride and Prejudice’s five Bennet sisters, emerges from the shadows and transforms into a desired woman with choices of her own.

What if Mary Bennet’s life took a different path from that laid out for her in Pride and Prejudice? What if the frustrated intellectual of the Bennet family, the marginalized middle daughter, the plain girl who takes refuge in her books, eventually found the fulfillment enjoyed by her prettier, more confident sisters? This is the plot of The Other Bennet Sister, a debut novel with exactly the affection and authority to satisfy Austen fans.

Ultimately, Mary’s journey is like that taken by every Austen heroine. She learns that she can only expect joy when she has accepted who she really is. She must throw off the false expectations and wrong ideas that have combined to obscure her true nature and prevented her from what makes her happy. Only when she undergoes this evolution does she have a chance at finding fulfillment; only then does she have the clarity to recognize her partner when he presents himself—and only at that moment is she genuinely worthy of love.

Mary’s destiny diverges from that of her sisters. It does not involve broad acres or landed gentry. But it does include a man; and, as in all Austen novels, Mary must decide whether he is the truly the one for her. In The Other Bennet Sister, Mary is a fully rounded character—complex, conflicted, and often uncertain; but also vulnerable, supremely sympathetic, and ultimately the protagonist of an uncommonly satisfying debut novel.

My Thoughts

Poor, poor Mary Bennet. She is a true middle child. Mrs. Bennet has no use for her, and she can't seem to bond with Mr. Bennet. And all Mary wants is to be loved and accepted by her family. Janice Hadlow explores the character created by Jane Austen and gives Mary Bennet  a voice and her own happy ending in The Other Bennet Sister.

Hadlow begins the story before Pride and Prejudice to give readers a bit of origin story, as to find why Mary is the way she is. She truly is different from her four sisters. She's neither outrageously silly or a raving beauty. She just sorta is. She's more like Charlotte Lucas than any other character. Perhaps Mrs. Bennet had an affair?  But I digress. 

I listened to this book as an audiobook, which I LOVED. It's narrated by Carla Mendonça, and she does a wonderful job with this cast of characters, especially Mrs. Bennet. Mendonca made this book come to life with her excellent narration skills. I give five stars just for the narration alone.

This book is rather lengthy, but Mary had to go on quite a journey to get to her happy place. She finds a friend in Ms. Hill and her aunt Gardner. And truth be told, we all need Aunt Gardner in our lives. She could almost be called Mary Bennet's fairy godmother. Also, Caroline Bingley makes an appearance and seems to be the perfect nemesis to the Bennet girls. 

It was good to visit the Bennets again for Mary's story. She deserved one. The story was engaging and entertaining. I did think it was a tad too long, but I have zero regrets with the time I spent with this book.