Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon
(image taken from Google)
Why I Decided To Read It: Sometimes, we here at The Play’s the Thing (i.e. me) wants to read important works of drama that have an effect on the theatrical world. Sometimes, it’s just good to read something light and fun. I like Lauren Gunderson. I like Pride and Prejudice. I’ve played Mary Bennet in a community theatre production of Pride and Prejudice and she’s my favorite Bennet sister. I like Christmas. What else is there to say? Other than, yes, I know it’s close to Halloween, but I wanted to read this, dammit.
Summary: Set two years after Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, this play follows Mary Bennet’s own personal journey. After being invited to her sister Elizabeth’s home, the large Pemberley estate, for Christmas, Mary doesn’t expect much. Being the bookish middle sister, she and her family have resigned Mary to a life of spinisterhood. Enter Arthur deBourgh- Mr. Darcy’s smart, awkward, and single cousin. The two share an immediate connection, but will unforeseen circumstances get in the way of their happiness?
Thoughts and Analysis: First of all, I appreciate the authors’ note that they encourage diverse casting. That is awesome.
This was a cute play. It goes extremely quick; I read it in under two hours. Like any Lauren Gunderson play, it’s very funny, which is important in a Jane Austen pastiche. I feel it was a fair interpretation of where the characters of Pride and Prejudice would be in two years. It was also contained consistent characterization from the original novel. I did wonder where Georgiana Darcy was, though. I liked they acknowledged the lack of Kitty and made a joke out of it.
The only original character was Arthur deBourgh, who is Darcy’s cousin. Due to Lady Catherine’s death, he has inherited Rosings. He’s a much more awkward Mr. Darcy, but he’s still likeable. Like Mary, he’s an intellectual and they make a good match.
What I really appreciated was the characterization of the sisters. I feel like in many Pride and Prejudice sequels and adaptations, most authors tend to ignore the Bennet sisters’ relationships beyond Jane and Lizzy and sometimes Lydia. Or at the very least, there often isn’t the full shade of emotions that sisterhood entails between all the sisters. There is a lot of annoyance, but not a lot of caring. This play was different. I really got the sense of sisterhood between the Bennet girls because there was a balance of emotions. There was snippy-ness, but there was also concern and meddling.
Favorite Character: Please, it was Mary. She’s funny. She’s nerdy. She strives to know her place in the world. I totally related to her.
Should You Read This?: If you like Jane Austen, it’s worth a shot.
Final Thoughts: Miss Bennet is a cute, fun romantic comedy that makes a light read.