Mrs. Bennet is back.
In a follow-up companion piece to her first popular novel “Mrs. Bennet’s Sentiments,” La Jolla resident Dori Salerno is writing once again from the perspective of the fictional mother in Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice." Her new book, “Mrs. Bennet’s Admonishments,” was published in April. The self-described pocket novel is filled with Regency-era advice on everything from motherhood to etiquette to reasons why you should never pick up your husband’s socks.
“It really goes from soup to nuts,” Salerno said. “It started out humorous and then it got serious; things like finding your authentic self, more issues about friendships, but with a little spin from Mrs. Bennet.”
The fictional character is one Salerno knows well. Her first book, a Mrs. Bennet tell-all, was rated as a top new fiction pick by People Magazine when it was released in 2016. Even though the advice in her latest book comes from a decades-old point of view, Salerno believes it couldn’t be more relevant.
“This is the time of women, specifically women of a certain age,” she said. “Middle-aged women have a little more knowledge and experience. I watch my daughters grow up, and of course, they won’t listen to their mother — which I guess is why I wrote this book!"
The book, however, is just one of the many accomplishments she’s had throughout her long career in theatre, television, film, and nursing.
After playing Louisa von Trapp in “The Sound of Music,” when she was 12, Salerno was hooked on theatre. She went on to not only appear in television and film in addition to theatre, but she also worked as a writer in the industry. She has written and directed “So, This Is Washington,” and “West of Hedon,” for television and was the co-author for plays like “The Importance of Being Earnest the Musical!,” and “The Holy Man.”
In addition to her work in the creative arts, Salerno only recently retired from her career as a geriatric nurse case manager. The balancing of those two polar opposite worlds is best described in a memorable moment with actress Goldie Hawn. Salerno was shooting a scene with Hawn when the beeper she used to keep in touch with the 300-bed facility she operated went off.
“I started to beep, and she goes, ‘You’re beeping,’” Salerno said. Hawn told her not to worry and shouted to her boss, the director, that she needed a cigarette break so Salerno could sneak out and take the call.
“It was a juggling act, but a good balance,” she said. Currently, her balance has shifted back to her creative side: writing books, producing over 30 plays and working as the executive director of Vantage Theatre in La Jolla. And of course, she always has one — or five — things in the works.
From 2-4 p.m. on May 19, she’ll play the role of Sarah in a staged reading of “Jane Doe in the Quiet Room” at the La Jolla Community Center; a play about a wealthy girl found walking along a San Diego freeway. And for the past year, Salerno has been developing a new play called “The Spin Doctor” about “propaganda, prejudice, pawns and the press.”
For more information about Salerno's productions at Vantage Theatre, visit vantagetheatre.com. Both of her books are available for purchase on Amazon.