I came across this article on the net from Foreword Magazine. I was very excited to see the new version of Lydia Bennet's Story given a mention.
HAPPILY EVER AFTER?
Of writers of classic literature, few are more beloved than Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. Their witty, mysterious, proud, and strange characters stay with readers like old friends. Indeed, these two authors have such a devoted following that a whole genre exists of sequels and retellings of their novels.
Because Austen presents such a narrow view in her novels—she usually focuses the point of view on only one character from a cast of dozens—the possibilities for sequels to her novels are endless. What is life like for Sense and Sensibility’s Eliza, Colonel Brandon’s ward? What kind of adventures does Pride and Prejudice’s Lydia have in Brighton? What happens to the characters after the stories end? These are the questions that a variety of authors seek to answer with the fifteen sequels published by Sourcebooks’ Landmark imprint.
Lydia Bennet’s Story (978-1-4022-1475-8) follows the youngest sister of Elizabeth Bennet, the heroine of Pride and Prejudice. Her infamous elopement with Mr. Wickham was the scandal which eventually brought Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy together. Here, author Jane Odiwe presents her version of what could have happened during Lydia’s vacation in Brighton to bring about their elopement, and a look at their life together after the wedding.
Odiwe’s Lydia is as wild and reckless as readers of Austen’s novel could imagine. It is satisfying to see a plausible description of their relationship and lifestyle during their marriage, and the few glimpses readers are offered of Elizabeth, Darcy, and other original characters is faithful to the original. Lydia’s story is told in narrative, and through letters and diary entries.
Part One tells the story that readers have already heard. Part Two is more inventive: Lydia’s wild actions were probably hard to imagine for Austen, who traveled little, and probably always in the company of respectable family and friends. Odiwe’s story takes Lydia sea-bathing where she watches half-clad men ride horses in the surf, and to parties where she has to fend off the advances of an over-eager army captain. Her new acquaintances are interesting and well developed, and Wickham is just as scandalous as ever. The ending will be a complete surprise.
Whitney Hallberg, Managing Editor