Monday 27th July 2020
Monday 27 July, 2020, 7pm BST, followed by a live Zoom Q&A at 7.45pm BST
“It is a sad fact of life that if a young woman is unlucky enough to come into the world without expectations, she had better do all she can to ensure she is born beautiful. To be handsome and poor is misfortune enough; but to be both plain and penniless is a hard fate indeed.”
Chawton House’s Summer Series continues with an interview and reading with Janice Hadlow, author of critically acclaimed new novel The Other Bennet Sister (2020).
In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mary is the middle of the five Bennet girls and the plainest of them all, so what hope does she have? Prim and pious, with no redeeming features, she is unloved and seemingly unlovable.
The Other Bennet Sister, though, shows another side to Mary. An introvert in a family of extroverts; a constant disappointment to her mother who values beauty above all else; fearful of her father’s sharp tongue; with little in common with her siblings – is it any wonder she turns to books for both company and guidance? And, if she finds her life lonely or lacking, that she determines to try harder at the one thing she can be: right.
One by one, her sisters marry – Jane and Lizzy for love; Lydia for some semblance of respectability – but Mary, it seems, is destined to remain single and live out her life at Longbourn, at least until her father dies and the house is bequeathed to the reviled Mr Collins.
But when that fateful day finally comes, she slowly discovers that perhaps there is hope for her, after all.
Simultaneously a wonderfully warm homage to Jane Austen and a delightful new story in its own right, Janice Hadlow’s The Other Bennet Sister is, at its heart, a life-affirming tale of a young woman finding her place in the world. Witty and uplifting, it will make you feel – and cheer – for Mary as you never have before.
The interview will be followed by a live Q&A on Zoom afterwards.
Janice Hadlow was born in London and studied history at university. After a few years working for the House of Commons, she joined the BBC and became a television producer. She was the recipient of a number of awards, and is a Fellow of the Royal Television Society, as well as of King’s College, University of London.
The Other Bennet Sister is her first novel. She currently lives in Edinburgh with her husband and has two sons.
This is an online talk. Ticket holders will be emailed a link to access the talk and Q&A on Monday morning.