Mary B: A Novel: An untold story of Pride and Prejudice by Katherine J. Chen

For Pride and Prejudice fans, this book is a refreshing take on the sister who seems like the odd one out. 

This book makes you wonder about the quiet ones, the wallflowers, and what they’re capable of. 

Often striving to pave her own way in a time when a certain behavior was expected of a woman. Often, educated and well read women of the era were thought of as outspoken which is something that wasn’t very becoming of a lady at that time. Being outspoken often led to judgement in a society where everything was noticed. 

Mary, setting forth as the quiet one lives to be heard it her way, on her terms. 

The overlooked middle sister in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice casts off her prim exterior and takes center stage in this fresh retelling of the classic novel.

“Perhaps not even a newly discovered Austen manuscript could exceed the delicious pleasure of Mary B.”—Susan Choi, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of American Woman and My Education

What is to be done with Mary Bennet? She possesses neither the beauty of her eldest sister, Jane, nor the high-spirited wit of second-born Lizzy. Even compared to her frivolous younger siblings, Kitty and Lydia, Mary knows she is lacking in the ways that matter for single, not-so-well-to-do women in nineteenth-century England who must secure their futures through the finding of a husband. As her sisters wed, one by one, Mary pictures herself growing old, a spinster with no estate to run or children to mind, dependent on the charity of others. At least she has the silent rebellion and secret pleasures of reading and writing to keep her company.

But even her fictional creations are no match for the scandal, tragedy, and romance that eventually visit Mary’s own life. In Mary B, readers are transported beyond the center of the ballroom to discover that wallflowers are sometimes the most intriguing guests at the party. Beneath Mary’s plain appearance and bookish demeanor simmers an inner life brimming with passion, humor, and imagination—and a voice that demands to be heard.

Set before, during, and after the events of Pride and Prejudice, Katherine J. Chen’s vividly original debut novel pays homage to a beloved classic while envisioning a life that is difficult to achieve in any era: that of a truly independent woman.

Praise for Mary B

“The best part about Mary’s star turn is that it bears little relation to the fates of her sisters. She’s a simmering, churning, smart woman determined to concoct an independent life.”—The Washington Post

“Pride and Prejudice’s beloved story is re-spun through the eyes of mousy, overlooked—and now feminist—middle child, Mary.”—Family Circle

“Chen has dipped into Pride and Prejudice to pluck out and celebrate the seemingly most unpromising of the Bennet sisters. In giving Mary Bennet a resonant voice of her own, Chen has fashioned a luminous and enlightening novel that will entrance even, or especially, those who have not read Jane Austen’s masterpiece.”—John Banville, Man Booker Prize–winning author of The Sea and Mrs. Osmond

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