Blog Tour: Lauren Baratz-Logsted Discusses the Inspiration Behind The Education of Bet
Influences Behind The Education of Bet
Ocassionally, I'll hear another writer say they never read their own reviews. I'm not sure if I believe that. One thing I am sure of is that I have no such restraint. I want to know what people are saying about my books, the good and the bad. Sometimes by reading a wide range of reviews, you can see a consensus - hopefully that consensus isn't that your book sucks! - that can help the writer. No, the book in question can't be changed - that book is already published and therefore a done deal - but sometimes you can learn things that can help with your future writing.
For people who don't know, The Education of Bet is a YA novel set in Victorian England about a 16-year-old girl who decides to impersonate a boy in order to get a proper education. As I started reading reviews of the book, I noticed some reviewers citing Yentl and Mulan as antecedents. This really interested me because I'd been thinking of neither when I wrote my book. I've never seen Yentl, although I know from the video packaging that Barbra Streisand's character in it impersonates a boy so she can get a yeshiva education. As for Mulan, given that I saw a lot of Disney "princess" movies with my daughter when she was younger, I probably saw this one at some point, but all I can tell you about it with certainty is that in this one the "princess" is not a blonde.
So what were the antecedents for The Education of Bet? The answer to that would be the classic novel of British boarding school life, Tom Brown's Schooldays, by Thomas Hughes; and possibly She's the Man, the film that is really Shakespeare's Twelfth Night in contemporary clothing.
Finally, what was I hoping to achieve? I've always been a big fan of the Thomas Hughes book so I wanted to write a story like that but featuring a teenage girl with a more contemporary sensibility: even though Bet is the orphan daughter of the maid, she desperately wants what is only available to the wealthy and predominantly males - an exceptional education. We take so much for granted these days, sometimes it's difficult to remember that even though there would have been educational opportunities for wealthy girls Bet's age back then, nothing would be available for someone in her circumstances...unless she found a way - like cross-dressing! - to acquire it for herself. Oh, and what's the other thing I hoped to achieve with this book? I hope it makes the reader feel entertained. There's not a book in existence that is perfect and I know that there will always be readers who are displeased with X or Y, but the truth is, with each book, I do try to entertain the reader. I hope, at least occasionally, that I succeed.
Thanks for having me!
Thank you so much for writing up this fantastic post, Lauren! And congrats on the paperback release of The Education of Bet (my review)
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