She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Unexpected Miss Bennet, and reported the following:
Interesting! Page 69 of The Unexpected Miss Bennet occurs at one of the turning points for Mary Bennet, the protagonist. As readers may remember from Pride & Prejudice, Mary Bennet was the plain sister who read sermons and pontificated, and most certainly did not dance. As Jane Austin wrote in Pride & Prejudice,Learn more about the book and author at Patrice Sarath's website and blog.
And even Mary could assure her family that she had no disinclination for [the Netherfield ball].Yup. Spoken like a sister who was so shy that she hid behind a façade of being too intellectual to enjoy a simple dance.
“While I can have my mornings to myself,” said she, “it is enough. -- I think it no sacrifice to join occasionally in evening engagements. Society has claims on us all; and I profess myself one of those who consider intervals of recreation and amusement as desirable for every body.”
In The Unexpected Miss Bennet, I imagine that Mary Bennet has become dissatisfied with her role as the pedantic sister. She is beginning to wonder what life holds in store for her. Her world begins to open up when her older sister Lizzy invites her to come to visit at Pemberley. On page 69, an interesting young man invites her to dance – possibly for the first time ever in her life – and Mary Bennet has fun.
“Mr. Aikens danced much as he did anything, without stopping and with great enthusiasm. Mary found herself alternately laughing and scandalized at his performance. Everyone would be looking at them! Soon others in their set were laughing as well, and all of the couples swung their partners with abandon. Mary could almost not keep up but the fun was infectious. Years of reserve were broken down in minutes of lively music.”I didn’t want to completely change Mary Bennet’s character. She remains a serious, pious young woman who loves books and sermons and thinking deep thoughts about human nature and society. But I open her up and allow her to experience some more of the world, limited though it is for a young Regency lady, and in the process Mary discovers that she can be serious and happy. Page 69 is where the growth begins.