There's nothing like a new book. I think Mary would agree, don't you?

I am so happy about next week’s debut of The Unexpected Miss Bennet that I am offering up a chance to win a free copy. Just answer this question in the comments below and I will choose an answer at random:


Which of Jane Austen’s secondary characters should have their own book?

I’ll announce the winner August 1!

In the meantime, here’s a bit of a teaser about “my” Mary Bennet and her Mr. Aikens (bonus points if you know what book Mary is reading):


Mr Aikens wore an ill-fitting coat, and his face was ruddy from his exercise. His hair curled up around his ears, and he had not shaved that morning. He glanced down at the book in her hand.‘Oh! Do you like reading?’

The old Mary would have expounded at length on the virtues of a good book, one in which the liveliest plot was married to the most virtuous of morals. However, this book was one of Georgiana’s novels. There was little about it that was virtuous, though it was lively. So she blushed and said only, ‘Yes. I find it an amusing pastime.’

‘Do you?’ he said, as if thunderstruck. ‘Do you? Why, that is the most unusual thing. I cannot sit still long enough, but must always be up and about. Can’t read a book on the back of a horse.’

‘No, I could not imagine doing so,’ Mary agreed.

‘Extraordinary, that some people like books so much they read them anywhere.’

Mary’s embarrassment began to turn towards irritation. What on earth was so remarkable about a liking for books? ‘I do like to read, Mr Aikens. I find it exercises the mind and can even enrich the soul, if it’s the right book.’ She thought of Fordyce’s Sermons and how often she took comfort in the familiarity of its passages, the way it informed and reinforced her most decided opinions.

‘So what is that one about?’

Oh dear. He had to ask. ‘Oh,’ she said, stumbling over the narrative. ‘This one is rather more exciting than uplifting.’ He waited with a keen expression, so she began to narrate the plot as best she could.‘It is about a girl who is beset on many sides by terrors both real and imagined. She is orphaned and sent to live with a relative who treats her with disdain and forces her to give up her inheritance. She has many adventures,’ she concluded lamely.

‘By Jove! How does she fare?’

‘Oh, Mr Aikens, it’s just a pretty little fiction. Emily St. Aubert doesn’t exist at all.’


Audrey Lockwood · July 23, 2011 at 1:16 pm

I always thought Kitty would be fun to write. She’s in my comfortable age range, and I think I’d enjoy showing her transformation from silly to mature.

Julie Wall · July 23, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Colonel Brandon from Sense and Sensibility !!!!

Michelle Wood · July 25, 2011 at 7:56 am

What a difficult question. There are so many possibilities. Of course Mary is one of those that jostle for first place on my list. Not to mention several Colonels, various background daughters, sisters and walk-on gentlemen.
Top place “for something completely different” I’ll punt for Miss Bates. She’s a good soul, who deserves better than to sink further into penury and maybe she really doesn’t like to talk as much as she does?
Mary of course is reading that much maligned and now negelected Gothic novel “The M… of U…”. Though I can’t quite see it as a ‘pretty little fiction’…

Patrice Sarath · July 25, 2011 at 8:09 am

Miss Bates! What a wonderful idea. I’ve always liked her, and Emma’s putdown of that poor woman is one of Austen’s most powerful scenes. I didn’t used to like Emma, because it’s about a Mean Girl (TM) but then she makes up for it with her depiction of family life. And Mrs. Elton makes Emma look like the sweetest girl ever.

And yes! You got the bonus question!

Kate Sanger · July 26, 2011 at 11:01 am

Do we really need to pick just one? Cause, I have to say, as an English teacher, I think that the right question is “which one *shouldn’t* have their own book, and why?”
(Does that count as an entry?)

Patrice Sarath · July 26, 2011 at 11:16 am

That totally counts as an entry. Jane Austen’s ability to make her world come alive is partly due to how well she draws all the people who inhabit it.

Chris Huston · July 26, 2011 at 11:20 pm

I hate to be a copycat, but it’s only b/c Julie beat me to the punch — I SO agree with here choice to the tune of her quad-exclamation marks: Col. Brandon!!!!

Luthien84 · July 28, 2011 at 3:32 am

I would love to read more about Jane Fairfax. I want to know how she met Frank Churchill, what she sees in him and how she tolerated his flirtations with Emma.

Btw, is this giveaway open to all, not just UK or US? If so, count me in. As for the answer, Michelle beat me to it. Anyway, it’s The Mysteries of Udolpho.

Patrice Sarath · July 28, 2011 at 8:21 am

I always felt that was the weakest part of Emma. I couldn’t understand what Jane Fairfax ever saw in Frank Churchill. Jane’s story would be a fun one. We see her through Emma’s eyes so she’s not clearly drawn (Emma of course is so jealous of her).

Everyone who comments is in the drawing! Welcome and good luck!

Angela · July 29, 2011 at 9:07 am

I’ve been wondering lately about Louisa Musgrove and Captain Benwicke- that was a very sudden engagement from (seemingly) out of nowhere! I bet there’s a good story in that.

Shelly Van Dyke · July 29, 2011 at 8:27 pm

So hard to pick one, but I have to go back to my Austen fave, Pride & Prejudice – I always wanted to know what happens to Miss Georgiana Darcy, Mr. Darcy’s little sister. And so far I have been unsatisfied by the suggestions in other fan fiction, plus none of them that I have seen focus on her. How did Mr. Wickham’s treatment of her affect her? Or my favorite love to hate character, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Now I bet there is quite a backstory to that one!

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