A Very Mary Christmas Giveaway

A Very Mary Christmas Giveaway

In my most recent novella, A Very Mary Christmas, I have once again* played with the character of Mary Bennet. However, before I could begin playing with her character, I needed to know who she was as Jane Austen created her.

According to SparkNotes, Mary Bennet is “the middle Bennet sister, bookish and pedantic.” And I think Jane Austen would agree with this short description, although her novel, Pride and Prejudice, does give us this longer description:

The Bennets at home
The Bennets at Home, By Hugh Thomson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Her (Elizabeth’s) performance was pleasing, though by no means capital. After a song or two, and before she could reply to the entreaties of several that she would sing again, she was eagerly succeeded at the instrument by her sister Mary, who having, in consequence of being the only plain one in the family, worked hard for knowledge and accomplishments, was always impatient for display.Mary had neither genius nor taste; and though vanity had given her application, it had given her likewise a pedantic air and conceited manner, which would have injured a higher degree of excellence than she had reached. Elizabeth, easy and unaffected, had been listened to with much more pleasure, though not playing half so well; and Mary, at the end of a long concerto, was glad to purchase praise and gratitude by Scotch and Irish airs, at the request of her younger sisters, who, with some of the Lucases and two or three officers, joined eagerly in dancing at one end of the room.

 

There is also this bit of interesting information which I found on The Republic of Pemberley’s “Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice — Index of Characters:

Jane Austen revealed to her family, according to the biographical Memoir**, that Mary `obtained nothing higher than one of her uncle Philips’s clerks’*** in marriage, after the period described in the novel.

So, knowing these things about Mary, how did I choose to play with her character? Did I keep her precisely, 100% as she is written in canon? How did I envision her?

Well, let’s start with this little excerpt from Waking to Mr. Darcy where we first meet this particular version of the middle Bennet sister:

Waking to Mr. Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice NovellaElizabeth considered what Mary had said. “Is that why you read the books you do? To verify that what has been said about them is correct?”

Mary nodded. “I do. I never believe without proof.”

Elizabeth felt a pang of reproof at such a statement. Had she adhered to such a philosophy, she might not have listened to Wickham, but for all her love of reasoning, there were times that her emotions overcame her sense. “So the sermons and the scriptures are to prove the parson is not in error?”

Mary nodded. “And the various other books are to be able to listen with some understanding of the things spoken of at gatherings. The gentlemen rarely notice my presence, so I have had many opportunities to discern which men are admirable and which are not.”

Elizabeth blushed. “I must confess I had not considered why you read sermons to be for that purpose.” Indeed, it seemed there was much she had not considered about her sister.

“You thought I wished to impress some parson and become his wife?” Mary asked it with a slight laugh in her voice.

“You do not wish to marry a parson?” Elizabeth asked.

“Most certainly not!” declared Mary. “I should have to be pleasant to a great many people that I find loathsome. I would prefer to marry an honest gentleman with a modest income.” She rose to pour the tea that had arrived during their discussion. “A small circle of friends, a home, and children to teach, that is all I require.”

I envisioned a middle sister who competed for attention with her elder and younger sisters — a very normal thing to have happen. She stands out by being different. In my story, this draws her mother’s displeasure because Mary is far too bookish and, in her mother’s eyes, not pretty. However, I did not picture Mary as “not pretty.” I pictured her as more average in appearance than her sisters, so by comparison, she would have to feel “not pretty.” I do have her loving to learn and talk about things that are not traditionally spoken of by ladies — a bit of a bluestocking if you will. I have her being a rather no-nonsense sort of individual. She does not flirt, believes in propriety, and, if she sees a problem, she seeks a solution — even if it is an unpleasant solution such as leaving Longbourn and becoming a companion or governess. My Mary does not see herself as having any exceptional qualities, which breaks from the arrogant description given in canon. Her descriptions of herself are those she has heard from her mother. But not everyone in this story sees her that way — Jane and Elizabeth do not. Darcy does not. Nicholas Hammond, a neighbour and eligible bachelor, does not. And then there are Nicholas’ brother, Fred, and Fred’s friend, Whit who also do not see her this way. In fact, they come to see her quite differently —

A Very Mary Christmas: A Pride and Prejudice Novella and Sequel to Waking to Mr. Darcy

 

“I like her,” said Fred, “and not as you are thinking. She is quite perfect for my brother.”

“She is,” said Whit, “and how fortunate for us that she loves him.” He clapped his hands softly and rubbed them together. “Well, Fred, we have just over a week to orchestrate a Christmas miracle for Miss Mary.” He pulled a chair close to the bed and, dropping into it, blew out a breath. “Not beautiful? What idiot told her that?”

 

And, except for Nicholas, it is this group of people who see Mary for all her good qualities and work to give her the best Christmas gift of all — her very own happily ever after!

Now, speaking of gifts, scroll on down past the notes and sources, and you will find A Very Special Mary Christmas Giveaway.

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Side Notes for the Curious:

*My first foray into writing a Mary Bennet story is the novella No Other Choice, which is book two in the Choices Series.

**The book mentioned in this note is A Memoir of Jane Austen by James Edward Austen-Leigh, who was Jane Austen’s nephew.

***In my story, the hero has a particular connection to Mary’s Uncle Phillips — but I am not telling what it is. 🙂

Sources:

Austen, Jane. “Pride & Prejudice, Chapter VI of Volume I (Chap. 6).” The Republic of Pemberley, n.d. Web. 14 Dec. 2016.

“Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice — Index of Characters.” Pemberley.com. The Republic of Pemberley, n.d. Web. 14 Dec. 2016.

SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Pride and Prejudice.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2007. Web. 14 Dec. 2016.

A Very Special Mary Christmas Giveaway

For this giveaway, I had CSLiterary Jewelry make a custom necklace for this giveaway.  I selected this quote from the proposal in this book:

“I have considered these things since waking, and I have come to the realization that you, Mary, are more than just a friend. You are something far more dear to me. You are my heart.”

And below is the lovely necklace that was created with these words.  The necklace comes as pictured on an 18-inch chain.

There are several ways to enter this giveaway. Four entry options can be used only once, and one can be used every day if you should wish. Select as many or as few entry options as you want. However, all entries must be submitted through the Rafflecopter form. This contest is open internationally.

You will notice that one of the options for entering this giveaway is to leave a comment on this post.  You can write whatever you wish, but if you are looking for ideas, here is something you might consider: I love Jane Austen’s secondary characters. How about you? Are there any secondary Jane Austen characters (from any of her work) that you find fascinating and would like to know more about?

Contest ends at 11:59 PM EST December 23, 2016. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Visit CSLiterary Jewelry on Etsy.

If you did not win but would like to have a necklace like this, you may contact Kerry Gauthier through her Etsy store (link above), and she will be happy to help you with your order.  (And from personal experience I can tell you that customer service is great at CSLiterary Jewelry. 🙂 )

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52 Responses to A Very Mary Christmas Giveaway

    • Oh, I am sorry I did not see this sooner. Thank you for commenting. I hope you get a chance to read this book. I like writing about the secondary character, and Mary has been a pleasure both times I have written her story. 🙂

  1. I love seeing Mary get a place in the limelight from time to time. The necklace is beautiful Leenie. Thanks so much for this lovely giveaway and for making it open to us international readers, too.

    • Oh, for me there really is no such thing as a non-international giveaway since I live in Canada…even the US readers would be excluded if I limited it to national LOL 🙂 I am quite pleased with my necklace. I have yet to wear it. I am hoping to do so to the Christmas Eve service.

  2. I always love seeing Mary gain a personality beyond her sermons. My favorite secondary character by far is Colonel Fitzwilliam. I am thrilled when he gets page time, even on occasion that he turns into a rake. But especially when he gets his HEA. Beautiful necklace. Thank you for the giveaway.

    • None of us are just one thing — so in my mind, Mary has to be more than sermons. 🙂 Oh, I enjoy Colonel Fitzwilliam…great choice of secondary character. He is currently being rather dense in a story I am writing….good at military things, poor at women…but although not the central character of the story he will get a happily ever after. I have another story I have wanted to write for him for some time, but haven’t tackled yet…that and two I have already done…well, maybe he is my favourite as well. LOL

  3. I must confess that I like Caroline Bingley as she plots against Elizabeth and tries to continue to win Darcy. Thank you for the giveaway!

  4. What a lovely necklace. Thank you for this giveaway. Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a 2017 of blessings.
    Marilyn

  5. I downloaded the book as soon as I could. I am looking forward to reading it. Blessings on your launch and give-a-way.

    I love stories about Mary. Not everyone is fortunate enough to be born beautiful. I have always hoped to simply manage to “look nice” and be happy with that. So these secondary characters resonate with more people that the ‘beautiful’ characters. Well done on your presentation of Mary. I was so surprised with her in the first book. I really liked her and felt for Elizabeth as she had to reassess her thinking in regards to her sister. That was a good lesson for Elizabeth.

    • Thank you! I had a lady that I cared for at a nursing home once say to me “You’re pretty when you smile, but homely when you don’t” so I can relate a bit to how Mary might feel about her looks. LOL

      I think one of Elizabeth’s flaws is her “this is how someone is” mentality and not always being able to immediately see people in a different light. She learns through the course of P&P to re-evaluate both Darcy and Wickham, and I would suspect, she would be more careful of her judgments after that time — which she had reached that point where Wickham was revealed as a scoundrel and Darcy as a good guy in the story before that evening with Mary. So she is willing to see Mary differently. And I had already been doing some thinking on how and why Mary might be presenting herself as she does. And, of course, I did not wish to see her in the same old light of pining for a parson. 🙂 I like giving her a happy ending that is not completely expected by her family. So, a rakish lord one time and a nice sensible gentleman this time….wonder what I can do with her next? I like writing stories for her. 🙂

  6. I love the necklace for two reasons. Number one, I sort of feel a kinship with Mary. I am passable looking, and very bookish. Of course, we all want to be Elizabeths, but we can be Mary also. And I love Anne Elliot from Persuasion, another passable & bookish person.
    The other reason is that one of my favorite people in history is Queen Mary, wife of King George V of England. She was a poor relation that became Queen. I call her my “spirit animal”!

    • Those are great reasons for liking the necklace. I am glad you clarified which Queen Mary and that it was not Mary I (aka Bloody Mary) who is your spirit animal. 🙂 I also love how you can relate to Mary. I find that one of the many things I really enjoy about Jane Austen’s writing is the ability to see ourselves and those around us in her characters. I often say I am a Fanny Price — shy, anxious, not willing to back down from my beliefs when necessary, and sensitive to having others think ill of me. My older sister always says Catherine Moreland reminds her of me — I tell you, you believe the story that Dracula lives in your Grandfather’s basement once and you’re marked for life. Haha (my imagination often carried me away as a child and sometimes as an adult so there is that similarity between me and Catherine, I guess). It is fun to read a story and feel that slight connection — it makes those books even more special. 🙂

  7. I have always felt sorry for Mary so it’s great to see she has her own story. I too love stories about secondary characters. One I would love to know more about is Eleanor Tilney. Northanger Abbey is one of my favourite Austens and I’d love to read more about the characters in this novel and in Persuasion. Happy Christmas!

    • You know I have not given Eleanor Tilney much thought — probably since I have actually only read that book once. I love that book, but just have not reread it yet. Persuasion is another book I believe I have only read once. I am just finishing a second time through Emma — a book that like Persuasion is not a favourite — but this time through, I have had some questions come to mind that I would like to have the time to explore in stories eventually. One of the last times through Mansfield Park (a fav. novel) I had some ideas there, too. So, rereading both of those might spark some interesting thoughts….

  8. Kitty is a favourite secondary character that I love to read about. Mary would be next and then Anne de Bourgh. That’s not to say, I wouldn’t be open to any others! I plan to read Mary’s story today, though I haven’t read ‘Waking to Mr. Darcy’ yet. I am hoping to do so in the new year! Thank you for the giveaway!
    Merry Christmas!

    • Oh, that sounds like a fun plan for today 🙂 I have enjoyed writing stories about all three of those ladies and expect I will do so again in the future…I really enjoyed working with their characters. I have also enjoyed writing about Lydia — yep, really? Of course, my latest Lydia is not your standard Lydia — oh she was fun! 🙂 Her book will be out in February (it is in rough form still on my blog)

  9. Lovely necklace! I do love reading stories about Mary and Kitty. They both seem to be often overlooked in P&P-based fanfiction. I enjoy seeing them fleshed out and finding their own HEA.

    Congrats on the book and Merry Christmas!

  10. My intention was to start reading A Very Mary Christmas without first reading Waking up with Mr Darcy, but changed my mind now, so I will be reading it today. Love reading about the lesser characters of P&P, more so than reading about Lizzy and Darcy. My favourite characters are Mary and the Colonel and if I can read stories about these two coming together all the better

    • I remember you mentioning before that you like Mary stories 🙂 I have not done that pairing of Mary and the Colonel yet….maybe I should put that on my to be written list 🙂 I hope you enjoy both stories. I do think that reading Waking to Mr. Darcy first will be helpful to understand the “setting” of A Very Mary Christmas.

  11. This is a story that has already caught my eye with several reviews on Goodreads. Count me in and thank you for the give away. Merry Christmas.

  12. I adore secondary character books. Especially ones about those that oft get overlooked (Anne, Mary, Kitty..). I loved this version of Mary and feel some kindred spirits with her. As always, brava!!

    • Thank you, Stephanie! I am pleased that you enjoyed it. I have to say, as I think about it now, I have done Mary, Kitty, Lydia, and Anne, but not Charlotte or Caroline (that could be fun but challenging) and I am just now on Thursday’s trying to do Jane (although, Bingley is kind of shining in that one probably more than Jane 🙂 I have a soft spot for Bingley.)

    • Mary has always kind of fascinated me — standing out among that many sisters and being different cannot have been easy….which I guess I kind of know from experience since I have four sisters of my own LOL. Hated going into classes and hearing oh you are so and so’s sister….um, yes, but I am also me was my reply. 🙂

  13. I also love Mary and sort of feel sorry for her with her backward ways and her spectacles. Her plain looks sometimes leads to problems with Lydia and Kitty teasing her and she does lack self confidence. However, she has a kind and caring way about her and she does love her family and just wants to fit in with the rest of her sisters.
    Thank you for the chance to win.
    Merry Christmas and Blessings in the new year.

    • With all that reading, she must have been intelligent — what is it that Edmund Bertram says about reading being an education unto itself 🙂 Mary, I think, fits that. I also think of her as being frustrated.

  14. Austen has so many secondary characters that I would love to know more about. Georgianna is one of my favorites, I am more Georgianna than Elizabeth, and always wanted to hear more about her and her happy ending with Colonel Fitzwilliam 😉

    • Oh, I do have an idea for a Georgiana story, but she would not end up with the colonel. That is not a favorite pairing of mine in stories simply because he is kind of like her father or brother in my mind, but I have read some great stories with that pairing. 🙂 And Georgiana has so very little shared about her that there really are several ways you could write her story, I would think. It really could be fun to do. 🙂

  15. Lovely quote and necklace. I really like my similarly designed Anne of Green Gables Necklace I have from CSLiterary Jewelry. There are so many great pieces of jewelry on that site!
    I have also enjoyed what I have read of A Very Mary Christmas so far and hope to finish it later this week.
    An Austen character I would like to know more about is Jane Fairfax. There is so much mystery behind her story. It would be interesting for someone to fill in the blanks of her journey.

    • She has some very lovely pieces! I love to just browse and wish to own…if only I had the budget for such things 🙂
      Oh, yes! I agree. I would love to know more about Jane Fairfax. I know Alexa shared a book title with me (which I can’t remember) so there is at least one story featuring her. I find the little bits of background we get in Emma to be fascinating. I have a feeling that one day that curiosity will take over and I will have to explore her in a story….one day 🙂 Such a long list of stories I would like to do LOL
      Enjoy reading the rest of Mary’s story, Maureen!

  16. I like Colonel Fitzwilliam, and am happy to hear about him. However, I really like Mrs. Gardiner, and would like to hear more about her.

Your thoughts are precious!