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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2013
So far I have read all of the author's books, so it is safe to say that I am a fan of her work. With that said, if you are a fan of the Pride and Prejudice cast then you are in for a treat. I loved getting to know a lesser known character, while still having the other more familiar people around, especially Lizzy. Without spoiling for those of you who will read this lovely rendering of what might have happened down the road, Mary has many things in store for her and I loved the balance of foreshadow and suspense. I also liked the snippets of Jane Austen's work weaved throughout the book, which made it feel familiar yet uniquely different at the same time. I am already awaiting the next installment and give this book my highest recommendation!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 22, 2013
Mary Bennet. Is. An island. Or at least she tries to be... Growing up a home where she was continuously ignored, laughed at, and set down - Mary has built up defensive walls around herself. She prides herself on maintaing power over her emotions, of being impenetrable to the trials and trivialities that surround her. Instead of trying to prove herself as "the most accomplished girl in the neighborhood," Mary has spent the last couple of years achieving some independence by working as a governess to the new family living in Netherfield Park. But when her father passes away and the new owner of Longbourn comes to Meryton, Mary's hard-won composure and self-control is put to the test...

Squee!!! Mary Bennet is such an admirable and loveable heroine in this novel! Experience and serious self-evaluation has helped Mary lose some of her vanity and pride. Working with children and witnessing the blissful unions of her older sisters has softened her rigidity and self-righteousness. I simply loved this reverent and plausible development of Mary Bennet's character. Shannon Winslow did such an incredible job of maintaining the essence of the original Mary Bennet, yet at the same time, transforming her into a fully realized and fleshed-out heroine.

Here are some passages which perfectly display the emotional evolution Mary experiences in this novel:

"Despite her determination to remain cool-headed, uninvited emotions had instantly assailed her...she felt as if the combined pressure would burst her heart wide open, and it seemed impossible that her companions should remain unaware of her painful inner turmoil." - page 116

"In the past, she had been able to moralize over the infamous sins of others with superior self-satisfaction, both because she had maintained a degree of detachment from their plights, and because she had never been tempted to such behavior herself. Could she say the same now?" - page 257

One of my favorite aspects of The Darcys of Pemberley (book one in this series) was the original and well-drawn characters Shannon Winslow created, Ruth Sanditon and Mr. Sanditon. In Return to Longbourn, Ms. Winslow fashions two more engaging and intriguing characters - Tristan Collins, younger brother to William Collins and heir to Longbourn, and Harrison Farnsworth, the taciturn widower of Netherfield Park and Mary's employer. Both characters added some interesting drama, excitement, and romance to the story!

Another aspect of this novel that I was utterly delighted with was the subtle nods to Jane Eyre and Sense and Sensibility. With Mary as a governess, Mr. Farnsworth as an unpredictable and brooding master, and a large house party of fashionable friends I was often reminded of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre (one of my all-time faves). In addition, a story of two unwed, diverse sisters - one impulsive and emotional, the other practical and stoic - felt reminiscent of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. And Tristan Collins, a newly arrived bachelor whose charming facade hides some secrets, seemed to share some similarities with Willoughby!

As you might already guess by reading the above review, I loved Return to Longbourn and recommend it to all fans of Austenesque literature! Reverent, enthralling, and magnificent!

Austenesque Reviews
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2013
I wanted to find a sequel that would broaden Mary's story and bought this with high expectations. Have to say I am a little disappointed but can't say precisely why; is it the striking similarity to "Jane Eyre", or perhaps a small resemblance to "Little Women", or perhaps I feel as though this is a paint-by-numbers sequel assembled around Mary, for a change. Whatever the reason, I can't recommended it any more highly. Just an average attempt to write a novel based on P&P.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2013
I loved this story and it's twists and turns. Mary's triumphs and falls are very much felt and I love how Shannon Winslow ties in familiar characters ,like Charlotte, in her story. I can't help but think Jane Austen would be very pleased with Mrs. Winslow's continuation of one of her most beloved stories! The quote from Jane herself at the front of the book says it all. Thank you Shannon for taking on such a challenging task and making such a success of it!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed this "continuation" of my all time favorite. Some fresh characters, as well as the familiar ones made it seem like a natural followup. Interesting plot, well written, looking forward to another such as this from this author.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2013
The "Darcys of Pemberly" was a disappointment. This book was not. Is it Jane Austin? No. Is it reminiscent and enjoyable to read? Absolutely.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2013
I love the Pride and Prejudice characters, so for that reason I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the quotes inserted fro P&P. However, it's just really hard for any mortal to compete with the master herself....I thought it was good-an enjoyable read-but not great literature.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2013
The spirit of Jane Austen is contained in this novel. I enjoyed reading it very much and now I will get another of this author's books to read because it was that good.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2013
I was a little doubtful that an author could place her name alongside Jane Austen, and claim to write a continuing Saga from Austens books. But I was so pleasantly surprised to find that Winslow did a beautiful job with the characters, setting, plot, and even writing in a style that did resemble Jane Austens creativity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2014
This ageless saga of Pride & Prejudice for me, is one of the nicest book written or (story told) and I am interested in all "things" P&P. I have read other books written by other authors who gave their version of "whatever became of"....Mary and Kitty who were unmarried in the JA original......and that Mr. Bennett passed away before Mrs. Bennett ... that Mary and Kitty did get married and that Caroline Bingley 'settled' for someone else as she did not get Mr. Darcy. This authors kept the theme in line with the original story and it was easy reading as one is familiar with all the characters, including the happenings at the Rosings and Mr. Collins and Charlotte.
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