In Pride and Prejudice, Mary is a caricature: she is vain, stupid, pompous, self-righteous and completely lacking in self-awareness. I’ve seen other sequels which have taken Mary as their starting point, and the writer has wanted to make her into a modern heroine – feisty, clever, talented, a square peg in a round hole. I can see the attraction of that, but I’m much more interested in the reality of Mary as Jane Austen created her.
I was intrigued by imagining the interior world of this poor, empty, conceited and lonely young woman. And of course, I wanted her to have a chance, to see if anything could be made of her life, if she could change and develop.
You can probably work out what my answer was to that question: how it happens – well, you’ll have to read the book.