In recent weeks, we have tried to find the ideal mate for two of Jane Austen’s characters, Elinor Dashwood and Colonel Brandon, both of Sense and Sensibility. (If you click on their names, you can still vote on who they should marry!)

Today: on to Pride and Prejudice! Mary Bennet is an earnest, studious girl clearly in need of a story of her own featuring a suitable hero (as several of you pointed out on last Thursday’s post). But what will her story be — and which hero???

How about Edward Ferrars? He’s another quiet reader, and Mary’s modest earthly ambitions surely wouldn’t mind Edward’s small income. He’s kind and sweet, too. Are they a perfect match? And with Marianne as a sister, would Mary learn to lighten up? (Or would Marianne just annoy her the way Lydia and Kitty did?)

Or would Colonel Brandon be more Mary’s style? (Yes, he is very old for her, but we know he likes fresh young things.) Mr. Bennet seems to have been a decent father to Jane and Lizzy, but I’ve always suspected he’d given up by the time Mary came along. So she may need a father figure — and Colonel Brandon is very dependable, and never cruel. He could be the father Mary never had, and the husband she never knew she wanted.

Or does Mary secretly have a thing for the caddish Wickham? In her heart does she wish that the scarlet-coated rascal would stop paying attention to her sisters and court her instead? Could Mary’s high-mindedness reform Wickham, while his love of pleasure would at the same time be opening her eyes to earthly delights?

Or does Mary need a very young, physical hero? Would she be a good match for the young Horatio Hornblower? He’s equally hard-working and earnest. Would her intellectual abilities improve his mind, as his experience in the world broadens hers? Then again, he’d be gone for long periods at sea! (But would she mind? She could catch up on her reading!)

Or does Mary really need a worldly rake to awaken her sleeping desires? How about Mr. Rochester? She does in some ways resemble Jane Eyre, so why not? Her primness and his brutal earthiness could be an exciting combination.

How about Tom Jones? He would bring youthful energy into Mary’s life. He’s a bit of a bad boy — with the emphasis on boy this time — but surely Mary Bennet could handle him. (She does have that stern schoolmistress thing going for her!) And who doesn’t love a rascal?

Or maybe Mary needs more excitement in her life! If she were married to the Scarlet Pimpernel, she’d have plenty! She’s reserved, so she’d be excellent at keeping secrets. What do you think?

Who would suit Mary best? Or would someone I haven’t mentioned be the best match for sober Mary Bennet?

All opinions welcome!

MY LADY GAMESTER — Award of Excellence Finalist!