The speaker hesitated. Who were the Bennet sisters in Pride and prejudice? The audience helped out with four names – Jane, Elizabeth, Mary and Lydia – but nobody could come up with the fifth.
We were meeting in a public library, so I volunteered to check the shelves for a copy of the book. Novels were ordered under author names, but there were no Austen novels at all amongst the trashy fiction at the start of the alphabet. I asked a member of library staff whether I was looking in the right place.
‘Let me check’ she replied, pulling on the drawer of an ancient card catalogue. She then told me that she would arrange for someone to fetch the book from another section of the library.
I waited patiently until an assistant appeared – proudly carrying a pair of shocking pink child’s dungarees.