When I received Lydia Bennet's Story from Source Books (and oh how I love receiving fed-ex book parcels at work - makes my day!), I was a little doubtful about it. I was pleasantly surprised. Jane Odiwe has caught Lydia's gushing, breathless manner beautifully in those parts of the book which are purporting to be her diary. Too many explanation marks for my liking, but I daresay Lydia would have written like this, all dash and full of enthusiasm.
Lydia is thought of as the villain of the piece along with Wickham, the thoughtless, conceited younger daughter who was only interested in officers and flirting and getting married before her sisters and we forget that when this happened she was only sixteen years old. Precocious yes, but still young. The interesting thread in this book is the constant striving by Lydia to win her father's approval and affection. She thinks of Jane and Lizzy as boring and proper and destined to be old maids, but it is clear that these are the thoughts of a childish and jealous younger sister who is aware that her father thinks she is one of 'the silliest girls in the country' and that he is wrapped up in his close relationship with Elizabeth. Lydia adopts the attitude 'ok he expects very little of me so I will prove him right' and continues to behave in a silly and outrageous manner hoping to gain his attention and is disappointed when she hopes, optimistically, that when she comes home with her husband, Mr Bennet will greet her and congratulate her on her marriage.
Lydia's behaviour is classic look at me, attention seeking and outrageous, to obtain a reaction which never comes and I found myself rather warming to her as I read her Story. She is honest enough to realise that she has made a terrible mistake in marrying Wickham and to admit that she has nobody to blame but herself and to feel sadness at the obvious affection and happiness in her sister's marriages which is sadly lacking in her own.
So, a story that turned out to be better than I thought, rather sweet and made me feel sorry for Lydia. A silly feckless mother and a father who ignored her, two elder sisters regarded as the beauties and best of the Bennett girls, no wonder she behaved as she did. I found it quite a coincidence that I finished reading this book the day before the papers were full of the hasty marriage of Peaches Geldof and the ensuing publicity. I found it rather sad that she left her new husband behind and rushed straight to see her father. One assumes to seek his approval. She certainly gained his attention.
A book that gave me more food for thought than I was expecting and, as will all those I have received from Sourcebooks so far, beautifully presented, lovely smooth paper and clear print which make it a pleasure to hold and look at as well as read.
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