Alexa Adams is an author who never ceases to surprise me with unexpected yet incredibly well achieved plots, and Being Mrs. Bennet showed me once more how creative and talented this author is.
I’m not sure how to categorise this book in terms of sub-genre, but in it you will find a fellow janeite, Alison Bateman, who has a regular 21st century life until she suddenly becomes one of the characters of her favourite novel, Pride and Prejudice.
Sounds familiar doesn’t it? But unlike most books or movies where this happens, she doesn’t become the heroine, she becomes none other than Mrs. Bennet!
Being Mrs. Bennet is the first book I’ve read where this type of plot is developed in a realistic and intelligent manner (if we consider this plot would be possible at all, of course). What I mean to say is that the know how of regency manners that Alison Bateman acquired while reading regency books her entire life doesn’t disappear when she becomes Mrs. Bennet, on the contrary, she doesn’t make a fool of herself because she knows how to behave, and discreetly learns the regency ways she is not yet familiar with. She doesn’t use modern language that could raise suspicions, she avoids activities that would reveal she is not the real Mrs. Bennet, like dancing at an Assembly, and the faux pas she makes, such as telling Lydia to wash her hands after dancing with someone who is sick, are perfectly understandable. This behaviour is exactly what I would expect from a fellow janeite, and not that horrible display we see Amanda Price doing in Lost in Austen, a story I hate precisely because I cannot believe someone so addicted to Austen’s work would make so many basic errors as that character does.
Alison Bateman, the main character in Being Mrs. Bennet, is a very likeable character who is intelligent and kind and with whom I believe most readers will relate. When faced with this new situation in her life, she does what every janeite would probably do, she tries to curb the unruly behavior of the youngest Bennet daughter and improve the attitudes of Kitty and Mary. What she doesn’t realise when she starts doing this with her motherly skills is what every JAFF author already knows, every small change in the characters or plot will have consequences on the romance of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth! When she realizes that her meddling may have consequences in that love story, she tries to do everything in her power to set things right, and that’s when everything starts leaving her control, however, unlike Lost in Austen, this character does not ruin the entire story, she is actually successful in leaving Pride and Prejudice just as it should be.
Apart from the main character, whom I really loved, the other aspect of this book I really enjoyed was the attention to details the author showed. I would expect someone who goes from our time to regency to notice some of the most obvious things, but Alexa Adams did a great job with the details such as the smell of people due to the lack of bathing, the effect of candles burning in a room, how uncomfortable regency clothes are, etc. These details made the story much more realistic and honest, it is not embellished to make us think everything is dreamlike, it is a real portrait of an era.
Another detail I enjoyed in this book was the reference to the Moonlight Sonata from Beethoven, which is my favourite classic music and I always love it when an author mentions it.
With Being Mrs. Bennet I realised how incredibly tiresome Mr. Bennet can be! I never thought about it because it was very funny to see him mock Mrs. Bennet, but when we see him do it to someone else (after all Allison perfectly understands his mockery), it appears to be very disrespectful, and now I understand Mr. Darcy’s opinion of him a little better. But I also realised with this book how one behaviour from one person can trigger a certain behaviour from someone else. In fact, I believe this is what this book is all about, it delves on the impact people’s behaviour have on other people, and it was very interesting to see how small changes made the difference in the Bennet family.
I also loved the fact that JAFF is mentioned in this book, it’s not everyday that we see JAFF mentioned within JAFF!! It was thrilling to read that.
The second half of the book did not hold the same energy as the first one but the end is as unpredictable as it is perfect! I did not see that coming and I loved it! I cannot say much more because I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I think you will also be surprised to see a certain character appear in this novel 🙂
I would certainly recommend this book to all janeites looking for an entertaining and funny book which focuses on family bonds, people’s behaviours and how our actions may affect others in unpredictable ways, but I have to warn you that there isn’t a lot of romance in it, so if you want to read a romance novel, this book is not for you. It is true that we see some romance between Darcy and Elizabeth, but that’s not the main focus of the book.
That being said, Being Mrs. Bennet is a compelling book that once more proves the author’s talent and ability to engage readers in an endearing novel with character development and introspection in the middle of a funny and light narrative. I took great pleasure in reading this book and certainly recommend it to my janeite friends.
You can find Being Mrs Darcy at:
Alexa Adams would like to offer one copy of Being Mrs Darcy to one of my readers. To participate in the giveaway all you have to do is comment on this post until the 22nd of July and let us know what you think of this story.
The giveaway is international so all my friends across the globe can participate.
Good Luck everyone!