Mantle has acquired The Other Bennet Girl, a second novel by Janice Hadlow, for publication in 2018.
Sam Humphreys, associate publisher for Mantle, pre-empted UK and Commonwealth (excluding Canada) rights to the book and a further, untitled novel, by Janice Hadlow, from Caroline Michel at PFD. Holt has already acquired North American rights.
The book rethinks the story of Mary Bennet, the bookish, rather pedantic third child of Mr and Mrs Bennet in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, sister to Jane, Elizabeth, Kitty and Lydia. In Humphreys' words, Hadlow will show "a very different side to her", in what is both a love story and an account of Mary "learning who she is, and what’s important in life".
Humphreys said: "As soon as I read the partial, I knew this was something I had to publish. It’s beautifully imagined, warmly written, and simultaneously entirely believable and very fresh. What Janice does so brilliantly is to start with Mary Bennet as Jane Austen wrote her, and slowly reveal a very different side to her. Through Janice’s eyes, we see Mary as lonely, frustrated and misunderstood – but capable of dreams and affection and aspirations and errors of judgement, just like her sisters. At its heart, The Other Bennet Girl is both a love story and an account of Mary learning who she is, and what’s important in life. It is a complete joy to read, whether you’re a fan of Pride and Prejudice or not."
Hadlow said: "‘I’m delighted to have the opportunity to tell Mary Bennet’s story, as I’ve imagined it for so long. I’ve used what Jane Austen tells us about her to explore the difficulties of her teenage years at Longbourn, and have imagined a life for her after Pride and Prejudice ends, that takes her out of Hertfordshire and into a very different social and intellectual world. There, she will find a very different vision of herself than the character she learnt to adopt at Longbourn. And there too, she will also discover, like all Austen heroines, that only by acknowledging the truth about herself can she ever hope to find true love; for there can be no happy ending until a woman accepts who she is and what she really wants."