Perception by Terri Fleming

Review published on August 2, 2017.

I’ve read several Pride and Prejudice sequels and, more often than not, been disappointed by the plot, the characterisation or the style and language. I suppose it is hardly surprising that few if any authors would match up to Jane Austen. This novel, though by no means rivalling Austen, I did enjoy. The focus is on Mary and Kitty, but we also catch up with the lives of Jane and Elizabeth.
Jane Austen was quite harsh on Mary and I like the way Terri Fleming has taken a gentler approach and turned some of Mary’s silliness into virtues. She is still bookish, with few social graces and, at the beginning, with a high opinion of her talents. As she falls in love, finds her happiness thwarted and spends time with her sisters she improves in all ways. Kitty, too, away from the influence of Lydia is a much nicer and more sensible character though she does have to face up to temptation.

It is a pleasant and gentle story; Mary and Kitty change and develop but all the other characters are as we expect. There are two new wealthy bachelors of course. The language is in keeping with Austen but does not attempt to be strictly of the period, which makes for easy reading. The plot, based on snobbishness and gossip, is also appropriate. There are even occasional more modern thoughts when Mary ponders on gender inequalities.

Altogether, I thought this was a very satisfying continuation of the story of the Bennet family. I’m sure some would not agree with this character development of the two sisters so it would make an excellent choice for a reading group discussion.

Berwyn Peet 4/5

Perception by Terri Fleming
Orion 9781409170624 pbk Jul 2017

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