Colleen McCullough Interview

Colleen McCullough's new novel, The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet , is a sequel of sorts to Pride and Prejudice, shifting "the action 20 years on and remaking the neglected middle Bennet sister, Mary, into a heroine." As the book is published the author is interviewed by Rosalie Higson for "The Australian".

"It's the perils of Pauline," McCullough says with her trademark boisterous laugh. Now 71, she is always looking for something new. Her CV includes romances, histories, cookbooks, mysteries and biography. "The trouble with living long enough to write 20 novels is that you start to get a bit short of genre," she says.

It was a televised version of Pride and Prejudice that reminded her of some things she'd wondered about "for donkey's years".

"First of all, why Jane Austen didn't like Mary, to whom she devoted a whole eight sentences. The other question was whatever happened to Mary? Then I saw this film and I thought that writing about that will really get under the skins of the literati. That will really, really irritate them," she says with another roaring laugh. "And I love irritating the literati.

"So I thought, I will write about what happened to Mary Bennet." Reading between the lines, in many ways the "pig-headed" Mary resembles McCullough: the plain girl with the brain, pursuing knowledge, then breaking out into the world, stubbornly independent, full of ideas, ultimately successful, admired by people in high places and finding love in middle age as a bonus.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on October 7, 2008 1:28 PM.

Australian Bookcovers #132 - Bad Debts by Peter Temple was the previous entry in this blog.

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