The Education of Bet was one of the first books that I ever received for review. I wasn't sure what I was going to think about it, but it ended up being a book that has really stuck with me. I liked this book so much. So, I was very excited when I was chosen to do a character interview with Bet. It's been awhile since I read this book, but the interview is making me want to pick it up and read it again! And if you haven't read it yet, you're in luck, the paperback is now available!! Check it out here.
Bet feels confined by her place—neither family nor servant—in the home of her wealthy benefactor. Will, the boy who’s been like a brother to her since they were four, is unhappy with his fate as well. So Bet makes a plan: She’ll pretend she’s a boy and take Will’s place at school.
When she arrives at school, Bet finds boys act rather brutish when they don’t think there’s a girl in their midst. But brutish Bet can handle it. It’s the stirrings of attraction for her roommate that get Bet into real trouble.
Hi Elizabeth! It's been a long time since we've "spoken." I hope you're doing well! Do you mind if I call you Bet? Or, maybe I should call you Will, just to keep up pretenses!
How humorous you are! I don't mind at all if you call me Bet. While it's true that Will came up with that name for me - well, "came up with" is not quite accurate; it's what he called me because he couldn't say "Elizabeth" when we were small - I've grown used to others addressing me so as well.Was it hard to live in a home, not knowing quite what your place is? You're not technically family, but you're not a servant either.
I don't like to complain, not when so many in the world have it so much worse. After all, I could have been an actual servant - worse, I could have been sent to the workhouse after my mother died! Still, it was hard in its way: never being entirely one thing or the other.Dressing like a boy in order to get an education was very brave. Did you feel brave at the time?
In the moments when I wasn't feeling terrified, most definitely! As you know, I wanted to dress as a boy to get an education - a specific goal. But I never suspected how much I would experience a general sense of freedom. Boys: they have so much natural confidence that comes with their station in life, such a sense of entitlement. Did you know that simply jingling the change in one's pockets, loudly, can make one feel powerful?What was the first thing you noticed about living life as a boy?
That trousers are more comfortable than corsets and gowns.You were bullied a lot by the "other" boys. Were you ever tempted to just give up, and tell them your secret?
Not really. Of course it was hard at times - Hamish physically beat me! But I'd given up so much to be there - the comforts of life at Grangefield Hall; decent food; compromising my own ethics in lying to Will's great-uncle - I couldn't possibly walk away.Having a roommate that you're starting to have feelings for has got to be hard. Especially when he thinks you're a boy. How did you deal with that?
Poorly, I think! I know that my words and behavior confused him greatly. But then, I was so confused myself.What are some words you would use to describe James?
Unusual: unusually self-assured, unusually smart, unusually kind, unusually handsome.What is your best memory of life at Betterman Academy?
For my own reasons, I can't tell you the best moment but I can tell you the second best. There was a dance. James believed me to be Will Gardener but I'd made a pretty gown, donned a wig and, after convincing him that Will was sick, further convinced him that I was Bet, Will's sister. We got to dance briefly - one of his hands in mine, the other against my waist - but the best part came afterward. As I wrote in my diary, "...all I truly wanted in that moment was just what I had: to be standing there, a girl, next to a boy I liked so much, watching the world dance by."Thanks, Bet, for taking some time to answer our questions! I hope everyone loves your story as much as I did.
If you'd like to read my review of The Education of Bet, you can find it here.