Colleen McCullough takes on Jane Austen

Wow! Thanks to AustenBlog, I now know that Colleen McCullough (author of The Thorn Birds, which missed inclusion on the Wordcandy-approved List of Unreadable Books by inches) has written a Pride and Prejudice continuation focusing on Mary Bennett.

And according to an article in The Australian, McCullogh's novel is quite the potboiler:
Mary has been keeping her elderly mother company for two decades, tucked away in comfortable isolation in the country, where Mr Darcy—or Fitz, as he is now known — keeps the two gaffe-prone women away from society.

Fitz has gone into politics with his eye on being prime minister, and he and Elizabeth are a powerful couple, although on the domestic front at Pemberley they have a disappointing son and lots of daughters.

And the other sisters? Sweet Jane has proved a fertile wife to Charles Bingley, with babies every year; formerly wild Kitty has transformed herself into a fashionable society wife with a much older, rich husband; while poor floozy Lydia is on the skids. Jane and Kitty are happy, pretty much; Elizabeth is not.

When Mrs Bennet dies, Mary is unleashed on the world. No longer mousy, she has hit her straps in middle age. She has a crusading fire in her belly, and is off to write a book about the conditions of the poor people of industrial northern England.

But her peculiar combination of unworldliness, stubbornness and superiority lead her into some jolly japes and life-threatening scrapes as she encounters rogues of all stripes. Kidnapping, explosions and casual cruelties inflicted by people she meets on her travels are almost her undoing. Fortunately, there’s a romance to lighten Mary’s load and by the end she has gone from "dandelion to a most exotic orchid".
Hm.... Setting aside the fact that Austen did actually mention what happened to both of the unmarried Bennet sisters (Kitty Bennet married a clergyman near Pemberley, and Mary ended up with one of her uncle's law clerks), my brain twitches at that dandelion/wild orchid image.
Posted by: Julianka


14 Oct, 2008 10:16 PM @ version 0

There are a LOT of bad Austen ripoffs out there, but this one sounds like it might win some kind of bad-book prize! Do they have literary Razzies?

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