Bring to book: Alison Leonard takes a prompt

‘I knew I had to be faithful to what she was actually experiencing.’

‘There’s an inevitability about the truth in fiction – asking oneself not what ought to happen next but what could really happen here.' | Photo: Sketch of Mary Bennet, by Niroot Puttapipat (2006)

When the author Hilary Mantel died, her many admirers realised there would be no more magical novels, no more of her incisive commentary, or heartbreaking accounts of topics like women’s illness. Six months later, however, it was revealed that Mantel’s next work would have taken quite a departure. She was preparing to write a novel about the third sister in Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, the rather tedious Mary Bennet. It was to be ‘a load of fun, an Austen “mashup’”.

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