Friday, October 31, 2008

Lydia finds love at Hallowe'en

I wrote this short piece for a guest blog today on Serena's blogspot Savvy, Verse and Wit. I am grateful also to her for a review for Lydia Bennet's Story, which you can read by clicking here

October 31st, 1801

“I’ll bet you’ll see your true love by midnight,” said our maid Mary, and she looked so mysterious and meaningful that we took her at her word and arrived at the kitchen door as late as we dared. It was very quiet and I was all for bursting in at the door but Kitty was already nervous on account of being told to come without candle or lantern. At her timid knock, the door was suddenly thrown back and the vision that greeted us was so terrifying that Kitty let out the most bloodcurdling scream you have ever heard. When we realised it was Mary with a hollowed turnip candle held under her chin we laughed so hard, I thought I might be ill.

The kitchen was very dark but for the glow of turnip candles on every surface illuminating several strings of apples suspended from the ceiling. A large bowl of water with more apples floating atop was set before a looking glass, which strangely resembled the one from my bedchamber.

“We’ll have snap apple and bobbing for apples later but first there is a tradition that all young ladies must perform. You must stand before the glass, quite alone in the dark, and a vision of the man you are to marry will appear within, before the bewitching hour,” said Mary.

“I will not,” cried Kitty, “No fear, I’m not standing here in this horrid, dark place for anything, even if Prince George himself was to appear.”

“Lord!” said I, “There’s nothing to it, Kitty, but I warn you, if I see Prince George, I’ll slit my throat. Ugh, can you think of anything more disagreeable than marrying that oaf!”

I must admit I felt a slight apprehension when they’d extinguished every candle before leaving me, and the hairs on my arms and legs prickled up at the unfamiliar sounds in the cold kitchen. There was a scuffle in the corner and the thought of a mouse nearly had me running for the door.

I stood before the glass and soon became quite engrossed with my own reflection which it has to be said looked most becoming by the soft bars of moonlight creeping through the window.

It was then that I thought I heard breathing. I looked behind me but there was no one there. I turned back to the glass and caught sight of a glimmering light in the background, so I spun round again only to find it had disappeared. I wheeled back to the glass once more determined to catch sight of whatever apparition was about to materialize when I got the fright of my life. A phantom in white, and not at all my impression of a handsome beau was leering at me in the dark, with hideous, grinning teeth. I screamed and fainted into the arms of the horrible ghoul!

The door burst open and there, holding onto their sides, falling upon themselves with laughter, were Kitty and Mary. My assailant had me blindfolded before I could protest further and in a soft voice not in the least unbecoming, begged for a kiss from his future wife. What else could a girl do in the dark, I ask you, other than oblige? In any case, I had guessed from his delicious smell that it was Mr Edwards, who it is well known has something of a passion for me and, indeed, is quite the best-looking young man of my acquaintance!

Of course, I protested loudly through the whole sordid exhibition and it was only when we went to bed that I admitted to Kitty, that although I do not think I found my husband on All Hallows Eve, I certainly enjoyed my adventure!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Inns in Regency England

Fiction set in the Regency era often has an incident or event taking place in a country inn in England. The first thirty years of the nineteenth century saw the growth of such hostelries as the rise of coach and post-chaise travel expanded and peaked.
I really like to read contemporary descriptions which help inspiration for writing. The first is by the English writer, George Borrow. army of servants... was kept; waiters, chambermaids, grooms, postillions, shoe-blacks, cooks, scullions, and what not, for there was a barber and hair-dresser who had been at Paris, and talked French with a cockney accent...Jacks creaked in the kitchens turning round spits, on which large joints of meat piped and smoked before great fires. There was running up and down stairs, and along galleries, slamming of doors, cries of "Coming, sir," and "Please to step this way, ma'am," during eighteen hours of the four and twenty. Truly a very great place for life and bustle was this inn.

The next description is from an American writer, Henry Tuckerman.

The coffee room of the best class of English inns, carpeted and curtained, the dark rich hue of old mahogany, the ancient plate, the four-post bed, the sirloin or mutton joint, the tea, muffins, Cheshire and Stilton, the ale, the coal-fire and The Times, form an epitome of England; and it is only requisite to ponder well the associations and history of each of these items to arrive at what is essential in English history and character. The impassable divisions of society are shown...the time-worn aspect of the furniture is eloquent of conservatism; the richness of the meats and strength of the ale explain the bone and sinew of the race; the tea is fragrant with Cowper's memory, and suggestive of East India conquests; the cheese proclaims a thrifty agriculture, the bed and draperies comfort, the coal manufactures; while The Times is the chart of English enterprise, division of labour, wealth, self-esteem, politics, trade, court-life, "inaccessibility to ideas" and bullyism.
I can think of a few inns still existing today which still embody most of the above and where, as you walk in, the ghosts of the past seem thick in the air about you.

The top print shows the west country mails at the Gloucester coffee house, Piccadilly, an engraving after James Pollard, and the second shows a bedroom at an inn from Eugene Lami's Voyage en Angleterre, 1830.

Jane Odiwe

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Chilly Winds, Snow and a Warm Review from ExLibris Blogspot

The weather here in the UK has been getting colder with freezing winds blowing down from the north. Last night was most unusual for this time of year as autumn was quickly ousted by winter. Last night we had lightning, a thunderstorm, followed by snow - huge, fat flakes of twirling ice hurtling to the ground and settling to form a blanket over the garden and the street outside. Everywhere looks so pretty, and as I write there is a pink glow from the sun as it rises, gilding the tops of snow-covered roofs with rose and gold. A day to stay in by the fire, I think!

Here, in contrast to the chill outside, is a lovely review from Sharon at her blog, Ex Libris

Title: Lydia Bennet's Story Author: Jane Odiwe Publisher: Sourcebooks Rating: 5/5

"The true misfortune, which besets any young lady who believes herself destined for fortune and favour, is to find that she has been born into an unsuitable family." (pg. 9)

The opening line of Chapter 1 of Jane Odiwe's sequel to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice describes the character of Elizabeth Bennet's youngest sister Lydia to a tee. In Lydia Bennet's Story, Jane Odiwe brings to life Lydia's lively, high-spirited character as we gain insight to her side of the Wickham debacle through her eyes - and her heart.

Lydia Bennet's Story begins at the point where Lydia becomes increasingly involved with that dastardly rake, George Wickham. Lydia, who cares not to think beyond a new bonnet and how many suitors will ask her to dance at the next assembly, falls quickly under Wickham's spell. To Lydia, who is high spirited and wants nothing more than to be married to a wealthy, handsome soldier, Wickham seems to be the man of her dreams. But she finds out the hard way that Wickham's heart has never been hers and that he only wants her as a connection to Mr. Darcy and his money.

Odiwe weaves her fiction into Austen's story seamlessly, as we follow Lydia through the aftermath of her marriage to Wickham and the subsequent scandals she is subjected to because of him. We also watch Lydia transform from a selfish girl into a mature young woman who wants nothing more than to love and be loved - in style, of course.

I enjoyed Lydia Bennet's Story immensely. It was a fun story with everything I love about good Regency fiction - good writing, plenty of period descriptions and background information that lend authenticity, and romance that is exciting but not over the top. Odiwe did an excellent job of staying true to Austen's style while creating new characters and plots to make the story fresh and interesting. She also gave me a new appreciation for the character of Lydia. In an age of numerous Austen sequels, this one is definitely worth reading.

The illustrations show Jane Austen's first home, Steventon Rectory, Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra walking in the snow outside their home at Chawton.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lydia's Big Adventure!

It is an extraordinary thought for me to contemplate, that an idea for a book which started in my head here in High Barnet, England, and was transmitted by e-mail 'over the ether' should now be sitting on shelves in book form all over the United States. You can imagine how much a new writer wishes to see her book on a shelf in a bookshop and here it is, kindly sent by Laurel Ann of Austenprose at my cheeky request. Thank you so much Laurel Ann, I can't tell you what it means to see Lydia on a bookshelf. I only must add that I am feeling very envious of her adventure and can only hope that one day I will get the opportunity to follow her!
I wanted to thank all those people who have taken the time to write to me about my book and I am absolutely thrilled to find that not only has Lydia visited the United States but several other countries too. I am very touched by all your good wishes.
Also, thank you very much to the lovely, hard-working Danielle at Sourcebooks who sends Lydia off on her travels for reviews and such-like.
If anyone out there would like to tell me about any of Lydia's further adventures, I would love to hear from you. You can contact me at austeneffusions at bt internet dot com.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Bingley sisters of Netherfield

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.

Tuesday, October 27th 1801

Our acquaintance with the ladies of Netherfield continues in a very poor way. We have returned their visit and mama expressed her pleasure at the park and house. I agree with Elizabeth - Miss Bingley and Mrs Hurst are supercilious in their treatment of everybody. I saw them sneering when my mother talked of Aunt and Uncle Gardiner in Gracechurch Street. Kitty and I were not addressed with more than a perfunctory nod in our direction and were not included in any conversation. Every time I opened my mouth to speak, Miss Bingley gave me such a withering glance, that I promptly closed it again. To Jane however, this does not seem to matter. To her, the Bingley sisters are charm and elegance personified. I am not impressed by them and will not trouble to write of them in future!
Lydia Bennet

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Jane Austen's home at Chawton and another painting of Jane

Here is another painting of Jane Austen which I'd forgotten about and came across whilst looking for something else, inspired, as ever, by Cassandra's sketch. The little painting that Cassandra produced is very delicate when seen close to and I have attempted a similar effect. However, Cassandra's brushwork was so fine that I found I could not produce anything like the sort of detail she managed in her lovely watercolour, but as I'm sure those of you who visit my blog regularly know, that does not stop me trying to improve!

Jane Austen lived at Chawton from 1809 until just before she died in 1817. I thought you might like to see this unusual view (at the bottom of the page) of the house from the garden. There are several outbuildings; two barns in the courtyard have been converted into a lecture room which houses a changing exhibition. The garden in Jane's day was much larger than it is now. There was an orchard, a shrubbery, a vegetable garden and a field where the donkeys were kept. Jane's donkey carriage can still be seen in the Bakehouse.
The garden is still kept beautifully today and has many of the plants, trees and shrubs which Jane mentioned in her letters - columbines, mignonette, syringa, lilac, laburnum, pinks and sweet williams, as well as old roses. I think Jane enjoyed being in the garden, perhaps sitting to read a book or taking a walk, but I think the real gardeners in the family were Mrs Austen and Cassandra. Jane did write to Cassandra about her plantings when she was away. In one letter (May1811) she writes, "The chicken are all alive and fit for the table, but we save them for something grand. Some of the flower seeds are coming up very well, but your mignonette makes a wretched appearance. Miss Benn has been equally unlucky as to hers. She has seed from four different people, and none of it comes up. Our young piony at the foot of the fir-tree has just blown and looks very handsome, and the whole of the shrubbery border will soon be very gay with pinks and sweet-williams, in addition to the columbines already in bloom.
The syringas, too, are coming out. We are likely to have a great crop of Orleans plumbs, but not many greengages - on the standard scarcely any, three or four dozen, perhaps, against the wall. I believe I told you differently when I first came home, but I can now judge better than I could then.'

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lydia and Kitty Bennet's favourite things

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.

Friday, October 23rd 1801

Kitty and I made a list of our favourite things today. I wonder, dear reader, if you can guess what came top?

1. OFFICERS in REDCOATS and the flirting which inevitably goes hand in hand, though it has to be said there is a dire shortage of officers in Meryton. I dream of the place being taken over by those gallants in scarlet - will my dreams ever come true?

2. Shopping - all forms except perhaps visiting the fish shop with Mrs Hill, as she is inclined to encourage us on occasion.

3. New gowns - which of course involves shopping for the said muslin. The linendraper in Meryton is a wonderful place with every variety of muslin, silk, satin and lace, but I dream of going to London one day to choose a fine piece.

4. New bonnets - this goes very much with the activity above and we argued about which gave us more pleasure. I love the anticipation of buying a new bonnet - the hours of gazing at it in Brown's window is almost as much fun as buying it, though I don't much enjoy trying to extract the money from my father. Still, I often find, much to my great annoyance, that once I've bought the hat it becomes a very stupid object and I have to start all over again.

5. Hair combs - again, in rather short supply as they are very expensive, but sometimes Aunt Gardiner brings me one from London.

6. New Ribbons for my hair - there is nothing like a new ribbon which still has the special gleam and shine that only a new ribbon can have. Choosing colours is always very hard, especially if we are restricted to just a half dozen each.

7. Dancing and music - I love dancing - I love the music and it has to be said there is something about a musician that I particularly like - especially if he is handsome!

8. New shoes, especially satin slippers for dancing, complete with silk ribbon to secure.

9. Reticules - these don't often come my way, but sometimes Jane passes on one she has finished with, though they are always made with some gown of hers in mind and never match the poor rags I have to wear.

10. Last but by no means least I adore jewellery, fans and accessories of every kind but have so little that it's hardly worth mentioning, though mama has promised me a trinket of some sort at Christmas. I wonder if this shall be something of a piecrust promise, however - easily made and easily broken!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Interview With Jane Odiwe, Author of LYDIA BENNET'S STORY (With Giveaway!) from Diary of an Eccentric Blogspot

Interview With Jane Odiwe, Author of LYDIA BENNET'S STORY (With Giveaway!) From Anna at Diary of an Eccentric

Yesterday I reviewed Lydia Bennet's Story by Jane Odiwe, which fills in some gaps in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and gives readers a glimpse of how things fared between Lydia Bennet and George Wickham. It was an enjoyable read and put the spotlight on a different Bennet sister for a change.

I appreciate that Jane Odiwe was willing to take time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions, and I want to give a big THANK YOU to Danielle Jackson at Sourcebooks for arranging the interview.

What inspired you to tell Lydia's story?

Wanting to tell Lydia's story crept up on me very slowly. Like many people I dreamed of writing a novel, but although I had written short pieces over the years, I had not attempted a full-length work. I knew I didn't want to write about Elizabeth and Darcy, I didn't have any interest in them at the time, because I felt that Jane Austen had told their story.

Lydia appealed to me because I saw a challenge in developing a secondary character who is recognised as an anti-heroine. I wanted to take her on a journey, helping her to evolve into someone I hoped my readers would understand better and come to love. Jane Austen wrote Emma with this sort of idea in mind, and I like to think she would approve of my reasons for writing the book. I also wanted to have a go at writing a comic novel, and I thought with Lydia there would be plenty of opportunity for laughs.

I have family in Brighton and have visited the town many times. It was during a trip that I started to wonder how Lydia and George Wickham get together in Brighton. Jane Austen doesn't give us any details of how their relationship starts or how their elopement takes place, and as I walked along the seafront admiring the wonderful Regency architecture, I decided I would like to find out. I could imagine the balls at the Castle Assemblies and the promenades along the Steyne, against the backdrop of fashion, scandal and frivolous living at the Marine Pavilion, home to the Prince Regent.

How did you prepare yourself to get inside Lydia's head and write in her voice?

I've read Pride and Prejudice hundreds of times, which was the ultimate inspiration, and I also loved Julia Sawalha's interpretation of Lydia in the BBC adaptation. The first draft was written as Lydia's diary, starting at the beginning of Pride and Prejudice. I must admit I really enjoyed writing in her voice, being able to say all the outrageous things that you would never dare to say ordinarily.

I did want to show that for all her bravado, underneath she is very vulnerable. Lydia is always painted as a "bad girl" with a despicable character, but I am interested in what makes someone act as they do. Being the youngest, quite spoiled by her mother and ignored by her father, is bound to affect her behaviour. She craves constant attention (and love) as a result and rushes into situations without thinking. I enjoyed showing the difference between the person she shows to the world against the one inside her head. I liked the idea of "seeing" her very different view and responses to events in the plot.

Why did you decide to add to the many Pride and Prejudice sequels?

Pride and Prejudice was the first Austen novel I ever read--I loved it. I started thinking about a novel based on Lydia as far back as 2002. They were not many sequels around in those days and to be honest, I didn't know if I could write a book, let alone a Jane Austen sequel. I started to write it but was not brave enough to do anything with Lydia for a long time.

Who is your favorite Pride and Prejudice character? Who is your favorite Austen heroine?

Impossible question! Of course, I have grown very fond of my naughty Lydia; she really is learning how to be a much nicer person. I am secretly in love with Mr. Bennet, despite his bad parenting. He makes me laugh, and a man who does that is excellent in my opinion. Although having admitted that, I don't think he'd be my choice for a husband. My favourite heroines (I'm sorry, I can't pick one) are Marianne Dashwood, Anne Elliot and Elizabeth Bennet.

How long did it take you to write Lydia Bennet's Story? Do you have a writing routine?

Lydia Bennet's Story was written over four years. There were many, many drafts and re-writes for publishers who said they would take it on and didn't. I think if you've never written a novel length book before, there is only one way to learn--writing, writing and more writing, then editing, re-reading and more editing. I had very good advice from writer friends, and I just kept going.

I try to write every day and usually keep to fairly normal 9-5 working hours, but sometimes if I wake in the middle of the night with an idea or with the solution to a problematic bit in the plot, I just have to get out of bed and get on with it--largely because I know from experience that if I go back to sleep I will have forgotten my ideas by the morning. I am getting a bit faster; my latest book took a year to write.

My long-suffering husband and children admit that they are very jealous of my computer.

Are you working on another book? I'm curious if there will be a sequel to Lydia Bennet's Story. I really want to find out what happened to her after the book ended!

I have recently finished a Sense and Sensibility sequel, Mrs. Brandon's Invitation, which Sourcebooks is publishing next autumn. Marianne and Margaret are the main characters/heroines of this book, although most of the other characters from S&S are to be found in abundance. I loved writing Lucy Steele/Ferrars and Mrs. Jennings' characters. This is a book I've long wanted to write.

A sequel for Lydia is not in the cards at the moment. Although I have been tempted to carry on her story, I have held back. She certainly grows up a lot in my book, but I have a feeling she might not do the sensible thing for her happiness, and I am a little afraid to find out what she is going to do next. With Lydia, I always think I'm going to tell her story when I sit down to my computer, but you might know, she always has her own way and takes over. Being so mischievous, unpredictable and with so much spirit, she is sometimes difficult to govern. I think I prefer to leave her where she is for the moment, looking forward to her future. Still, you never know...

I am writing another Pride and Prejudice sequel, which is really a challenge to myself, but it is early days, so I do not want to give too much away. I am enjoying it enormously! After that I have a synopsis written for a Persuasion novel, and there is a character from history who won't go away. I've promised myself to write her story.

Why do you think Jane Austen is so popular more than a century after she wrote her novels?

There are so many reasons! Most importantly, her characters are timeless. We all know and recognise the people that she wrote about with such skill. Her plots are wonderful; twisting, turning, leaving us in suspense until the last minute, her stories told with humour and wit. Jane's voice is very strong, speaking through her characters to tell us what she thinks about men, society, and women's position, but sweetening her outrage with a bit of romance. I think we all enjoy glimpsing back into the past, becoming absorbed in and inhabiting Jane Austen's worlds, which were created with genius.

Thanks so much, Jane, for providing such entertaining answers to my questions! I wish you much success, and I will definitely check out your novels in the future! Click here to enter the competition.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gossip from the Ball at Meryton

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.

Tuesday, October 20th

Charlotte and Maria Lucas called this morning to have over the events of last evening. When pressed by mama, Charlotte related the fact that she had heard Bingley declare Jane as the prettiest girl in the room. For all that Charlotte affects to be Lizzy’s best friend, she can be monstrous unkind. I think she was more than a little piqued that Bingley had only danced with her once and she was wicked to remind Lizzy that Mr Darcy only thought her tolerable. Lizzy declared she would never dance with him, even if he should ask her. Well done Lizzy!

After exhausting all talk of the Meryton ball, a decision to have a walk out was agreed upon. Kitty and I declined, (we were too fagged for walking) but my sister Mary declared at once that she knew better and abused us for waiting on useless young men. I must admit, though this was hotly denied, I was keen to see if our beaux would call.

“I expect they are dawdling out there in the lane now,” I said to Kitty after my sisters had left, “trying to pluck up the courage to walk up the drive. I bet if we venture out we will bump into them.”

“No doubt of it at all,” Kitty agreed, “though it’s well past noon, I should have thought they might have called by now. Do not depend upon them making an appearance.”

“I assure you, Kitty,” I cried, “I am not waiting on anyone. If they were to call, I should say I am out and I’ve a mind to say I am relieved they have chosen to stay away, the gentlemen in question are clearly as spineless as they look.”

A knock on the front door just two minutes later had us running to the window in high expectation, though it was only our Aunt Philips calling to see our mother. As my sister moved to sit down, still craning her neck to keep her eye on the drive, she completely missed her seat and fell in a heap to the floor. How we laughed!

Lydia Bennet

Lydia and Kitty by Jane Odiwe, Settee by Constance Hill

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Review for Lydia Bennet's Story from Diary of an Eccentric Blogspot

I wouldn't say I'm a huge Jane Austen fan, but I've read a few of her novels and enjoyed them. Of course, Pride & Prejudice is a favorite of mine, so when Danielle Jackson from Sourcebooks gave me the chance to read Lydia Bennet's Story by Jane Odiwe, I couldn't say no.

Lydia Bennet has always annoyed me. She was selfish, self-absorbed, and most of all, naive. But I've always been curious about her quick marriage to that scoundrel George Wickham that took up a good portion of Pride & Prejudice and made Elizabeth Bennet see Mr. Darcy in a different light.

Lydia Bennet's Story takes readers on the journey to Brighton, where Lydia's romance with George Wickham begins. Most of the chapters end with a diary entry by Lydia, so you get a chance to see what's going on in her head and understand that she was just a foolish child who always had to be the center of attention. She was boy crazy, and with a mother who did nothing but talk about marrying off her daughters, it's easy to see why. I could sympathize with Odiwe's Lydia; she fell in love with the wrong man and made numerous mistakes in the name of love.

Odiwe introduces some interesting characters: Captain Trayton-Camfield, who grabs Lydia's attention when she first arrives in Brighton, and Isabella and Alexander Fitzallan, Lydia's close friend and her brother who comfort Lydia and extend a helping hand when the truth about George Wickham is revealed.

Lydia Bennet's Story leaves Brighton and follows Lydia through the ups and downs of her marriage, from visits with the Bingleys at Netherfield to the Darcys at Pemberley. It is not only a physical journey as Lydia travels to get away from talk about her husband, but also an emotional journey as Lydia learns the meaning of love and even grows up a little.

Other than some of the language being racier than what you'd find in Jane Austen's novels (My favorite quote from one of Lydia's diary entries after running away with Wickham: 'We have not stirred for days, and I do not think we will ever rise again--though for dear Mr Wickham rising often is never a problem!!'), Odiwe's writing style made me feel almost as though I were actually reading Austen. I had to remind myself it was a sequel several times.

I know not everyone enjoys Pride & Prejudice sequels; there are a lot of them out there. But if you like Jane Austen and her heroines, I recommend Lydia Bennet's Story. Lydia Bennet is not a name that comes to mind when thinking about Austen's heroines, but Odiwe's story of Lydia's adventures shows her strength and shows that there's more to the flighty Bennet sister than meets the eye.


I'd like to thank Danielle Jackson from Sourcebooks for giving me the opportunity to review Lydia Bennet's Story and for putting me in touch with Jane Odiwe.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jane Odiwe, which I will be posting tomorrow along with information on how you can win a copy of Lydia Bennet's Story for yourself!! Hope to "see" you then! Anna

Diary of an Eccentric Blogspot

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dancing at the Meryton Assembly

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.

Monday, October 19th, 1801

A splendid ball we had tonight - despite a lack of gentlemen Kitty and I jigged all night and were never without a partner, though it has to be said that some of them were hideously ugly and not one of them the sort of handsome beau I have dreamed about.

Mr Bingley, two of his sisters, the husband of the eldest and a very haughty looking gentleman, a Mr Darcy, were in attendance. With the exception of Mr Bingley the others all looked as if they were suffering from a bit of old mousetrap cheese up their noses, so sneering were their expressions. I have decided to like Mr Bingley, he is a cheerful sort of fellow but too simpering for my taste. Jane can have him and after this evening, it seems she may well get him. Bingley danced with her twice, which pleased our mother, especially as he favoured Charlotte Lucas at first - mama’s face was a picture, so vexed was she that the Lucases had got in first.

Lizzy was found wanting a partner on more than one occasion and she was even snubbed by Mr Darcy, the odious man who came with Bingley. To own the truth, Lizzy did not miss much for having been slighted by him, for all his tens of thousands, he really was very proud and strutted about the place, no doubt fancying he owned us all. RUDE MAN INDEED!!!

The Bingley sisters gave all the appearance of elegance and good manners but for all their finery and satin, they were not as handsome as I should have thought from the reports that have been circulating over half of Hertfordshire. Some people, despite their wealth and connections do not know what it is to cut a dash or break a young man’s heart with their unadulterated beauty. To speak plainly, their ill-favoured countenances would sooner frighten farmer Felbrigg’s cows and turn the milk sour, than set the hearts of the local beaux aflutter.

I overheard them talking. “Oh Caroline,” sighed Mrs Hurst, “did you ever see such a dowdy collection?”
Miss Bingley stifled a laugh. “Dear sister, pray tell, to what do you allude? Surely this is not a comment on the modistes of Meryton or the beauty of the local wenches? I, for one, have never seen such finery, such satin, such jewels! Take care dear, or you will be dazzled, nay blinded, by the sparkle of such fine glass. Dear me, I meant to say diamonds, sister. Heaven forgive my slip of the tongue!”

“Quite so,” her sister agreed with a snort. “And as for the men, Caroline, why it will be impossible for you to choose a husband from such an array of eligibility. Indeed, I was introduced to a farmer just now whom I am sure will be just to your taste!”

Both sisters scoffed and laughed with great vulgarity. Mother is quite correct - there is something very vulgar about an excess of pearls at a country dance!

Lydia Bennet

Illustrations: Top, an old print of the King's Arms Dorchester, Pride and Prejudice illustration by Hugh Thomson, Meryton Assembly by Jane Odiwe

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Mr Bingley returns to Netherfield

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.

Sunday, October 18th

I have spent the best part of the day making over my old gown with some trimmings from Hill’s workbox. It is so unfair! Jane and Lizzy have had new muslins made up into the prettiest gowns you ever saw - a tamboured muslin for Jane and a sweet spot for Lizzy. I am heartily sick of being the youngest, even Kitty and Mary will see a new gown before I do.

We have heard that Mr Bingley has returned from London with a party of just six, his five sisters and a cousin and that they will be attending the ball tomorrow night.

“I do hope we shall be introduced to Mr Bingley’s sisters,” said Jane. “They must be very handsome if their brother’s looks are a recommendation.”

“It does not always follow,” said Lizzy, “that good looks are a natural consequence of comely parents, or indeed, that whole families of brothers and sisters are blessed with the fortune of a fair countenance. I have often observed that boys favour their mothers and girls are bequeathed their father’s likeness more often than not, so I would hesitate to pronounce the beauty of the Bingley sisters, Jane, unless you have had the good fortune to run into Mr Bingley’s very handsome father!”

“Oh, Lizzy,” Jane cried, “you are too brutal, I am sure they will be most elegant and whatever they may lack in your ideal of physical attraction, I am sure will be more than made up for in the refinement of their conduct, their dress and deportment. I am determined to like them. It will be pleasant to have other female company, other girls to converse with and share confidences. We have so few acquaintances that it will be felicitous for us all.”

“I sincerely hope, dearest Jane,” Lizzy replied, “that they answer all your expectations, as I would not have you disappointed for all the world.”

So ended their musings on the Bingley sisters. I daresay they will be ill favoured, conceited and dressed from head to foot in silk sarcenet. No doubt they will turn up their noses at our country style!

Lydia Bennet

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lydia Bennet's Accomplishments

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.

Thursday, October 15th 1801

We are stuck in at home by the miserable rain and are forced to entertain ourselves.
I do not think Mr Bingley has any intention of returning to Netherfield. In any case, the rumour is that he is to bring twelve ladies to the ball, so I cannot understand why this piece of news is causing so much excitement in the village - if he dances with every one of them, he'll be worn out before the rest of us manage to get hold of him.
Every girl in the village does nothing but practice their 'accomplishments', which, in their view, includes singing, dancing, drawing and dull sewing. Kitty and I drew up a list this morning of our accomplishments, which by grave misfortune, were discovered by papa. He said some very unkind things - I swear my tears are the result of his abuse, not of the laughter the list provoked. We are now upstairs to avoid the grim expression of his dear countenance. Here is the list of true accomplishments.

1. Flirting - Without doubt, the most fun a girl can have without spending any money - with any gentleman willing, but probably by far the most diverting with a handsome officer in red. (I know this to be true because when we stayed with Aunt Gardiner in London once, there was an officer who sought me out in Hyde Park every day!)

2. Fair looks and fashion - We could hardly separate these, as the two go hand in hand so particularly. Kitty and I do the best we can, though it has to be said that if we had the money that is lavished on our elder sisters, we would do a lot better. That said, perhaps it is a good thing - the men are driven quite wild enough by our pretty looks and sense of style.

3. Dancing - The best way to attract a man in my opinion. I only had two lessons with my dancing master and he was smitten! I hope Meryton is ready for the excellence of our execution.

4. Laughing - There is an art to this accomplishment, which should be neither shrill nor snickering. It can greatly add to a young lady's attractions and I am something of an expert at it!

5.Talking - How I could write a tome on this subject if I was not too busy being employed in the activity. Of course the most important talking is the type one engages in with one's beau. There is a certain level of softness at which your partner is forced to incline his head towards yours in order to hear you and attaining this level at the correct volume is a skill which needs constant practise!

6. Trimming a bonnet - An accomplishment at which Kitty and I are unrivalled in Meryton. I should like to pass on my own skills, but sadly, I think this talent is something you are born with and therefore cannot be taught. Come to think of it, I think that is true for all of the above!

7. I'm too bored now - I can't write any more. Till next time - Au Revoir as the French have it!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Travelling in Regency England

I find illustrations very inspiring and I thought you might like this one by the illustrator of Jane Austen's books, Hugh Thomson.

Travelling in Regency England was just as hazardous as it is today. Apart from the possibilities of carriages overturning, if you were to travel for any distance you had to consider where you might stay on route. Not all coaching inns had the same level of comfort; bad food and uncomfortable beds, perhaps riddled with lice, were some of the hazards you might have to encounter.

Sharing a carriage could be equally troublesome for a lot of people, especially if they did not enjoy the close proximity of their fellow travellers. I love this poem by Swift.

Roused from sound sleep-thrice called-at length I rise,
Yawning, stretch out my arm, half close my eyes,
By steps and lanthorn enter the machine,
And take my place-how cordially-between
Two aged matrons of excessive bulk,
To mend the matter, too, of meaner folk;
While in like mood, jammed in on t'other side,
A bullying captain and a fair one ride,
Foolish as fair, and in whose lap a boy-
Our plague eternal, but her only joy.
At last, the glorious number is complete,
Steps in my landlord for that bodkin seat;
When soon, by every hillock, rut and stone,
Into each other's face by turns we're thrown.
This grandam scolds, that coughs, the captain swears,
The fair one screams and has a thousand fears,
While our plump landlord, trained in other lore,
Slumbers at ease nor yet ashamed to snore...
Sweet company! Next time, I do protest, sir,
I'd walk to Dublin ere I'd ride to Chester.

Jane Odiwe

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bakewell/Lambton, Saxon Crosses and Pride and Prejudice

Here are some more photos from my trip to Bakewell. The first shows a view of the church and the second shows some of the shops in the town.

This small market town was known as Badequelle in the time of the Domesday survey, which is a reference to the mineral springs and an ancient bath in the vicinity. The name was later corrupted to Baquelle before it became Bakewell, the name that we recognise today. In the parish churchyard of All Saints there is the remains of an old Saxon cross, which has an interesting legend attached to it. In 1501 Arthur, Prince of Wales, son of King Henry VII was visiting Sir Henry Vernon at Haddon Hall. Beneath the cross he saw a woman in white who predicted an early marriage and early death for him. When the Prince returned to Haddon he heard that his Spanish bride-to-be was in England and that he was to be married immediately. Four months later he became ill and breathed his dying words: ‘O, the vision of the cross at Haddon!’

I love this extract from Pride and Prejudice when Mr Darcy arrives in Lambton with his sister. Mrs Gardiner must have felt very excited for Lizzy as it becomes apparent that her niece is being sought out by the most powerful man in the district.

Elizabeth had settled it that Mr Darcy would bring his sister to visit her the very day after her reaching Pemberley; and was consequently resolved not to be out of sight of the inn the whole of that morning. But her conclusion was false; for on the very morning after their own arrival at Lambton these visitors came. They had been walking about the place with some of their new friends, and were just returned to the inn to dress themselves for dining with the same family, when the sound of a carriage drew them to a window, and they saw a gentleman and lady in a curricle driving up the street. Elizabeth, immediately recognising the livery, guessed what it meant, and imparted no small degree of surprise to her relations by acquainting them with the honour which she expected. Her uncle and aunt were all amazement; and the embarrassment of her manner as she spoke, joined to the circumstance itself, and many of the circumstances of the preceding day, opened to them a new idea on the business. Nothing had ever suggested it before, but they now felt that there was no other way of accounting for such attentions from such a quarter than by supposing a partiality for their niece. While these newly born notions were passing in their heads, the perturbation of Elizabeth's feelings was every moment increasing.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Elizabeth Bennet, Aunt Phillips and the joys of a good gossip!

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.

Monday, October 12th, 1801
This is a drawing of Lizzy by my sister Jane. Elizabeth enjoys reading as much as I love dancing and she declares there is nothing so wonderful as a good novel. La! I cannot agree. My particular preference is for good company, spiced with lots of diverting gossip! And this, my dear friends, may be found in plentiful supply at my Aunt Philips's house in Meryton.
She is my mother's sister and as dear an aunt as ever lived! - She is such a rattle! Kitty and I like to visit my aunt whenever we can - it is a house always full of interesting visitors. My Aunt and Uncle Philips enjoy a wide circle of friends and their house is always busy with people calling or dining, or there are card parties and evening gatherings; everything affable and sociable. I think mama is a little envious of her sister at times, especially when it is so hard to make papa join in any fun! It is a great mystery to me to understand how my parents ever came together or what either of them ever saw in the other - well, they say love makes one blind and I think in this case, a truer phrase could not be found!
Lydia Bennet

Friday, October 10, 2008

Jane Austen in Bakewell, Elizabeth Bennet in Lambton

I've started a new book - well, I've written a synopsis and a couple of chapters and am feeling really excited at the prospect of immersing myself in the world of another Jane Austen sequel. It does feel like escaping to another existence, albeit a fantasy one, and I must admit, I did have more than a little chuckle at the first episode of 'Lost in Austen', because I could identify so well with with the heroine, (even if we know deep inside that we all much prefer the time we live in). Of course nothing can equal Jane Austen's writing, but we sequel writers are compelled to carry on with the lives of her characters, inventing new stories, even if we know they are not exactly what she might have chosen to write about herself. Can we have too much Pride and Prejudice? I don't think so, or for that matter, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey or Persuasion.

On my northern tour with my sister, (well, it was just a long weekend really,) we stayed in an old coaching inn at Bakewell. Many people think that Bakewell was the inspiration for Lambton, where Lizzy Bennet stays with her aunt and uncle Gardiner when travelling through the peak district and where she starts to see Mr Darcy (or Pemberley) in a different light. The Rutland Arms, where I stayed, has a room which they claim Jane Austen stayed in. I don't know whether the evidence for this is very strong, but it's a lovely idea. As a surprise my sister booked us in for my birthday treat. The top photo shows the view of Bakewell from our window and below is the scene in the reception sitting room, which inspired a breakfast room scene in my own Lydia Bennet's Story. Doesn't it look cosy? We travelled in late November; I remember sparkling, frosty days, blue skies and mists in the valley- and sitting by a roaring fire when inside - perfect!

In 1835, Bakewell was described in Pigot and Co's Commercial Directory for Derbyshire: Bakewell is an ancient town, situate at the foot of a hill, on the western bank of the river Wye, whose stream abounds with trout and other fish affording ample reward to the patience of the angler; while the rich and romantic scenery, enhanced in beauty by the noble appearance of wood-clad hills, present strong and almost not to be resisted inducements, to the visitors of Buxton and Matlock, to tarry a time in this vicinity.

We certainly had a lovely time, sampling the delights of the landscape and the famous Bakewell Pudding!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Lydia and Kitty step out into Meryton

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.

Friday, October 9th 1801

Walked into Meryton with Kitty but I have abandoned any hope of persuading papa that I need some extra allowance for the wonderful confection of straw and coquelicot ribbons that begs me to buy it from the window of Brown’s. Still, at least mama has finally persuaded him that Kitty and I may be of the party that attends the Assembly ball on Monday and we are beside ourselves with rapture. How I love to dance! Mr Swift, my dancing master, always used to praise me highly, saying I had the prettiest pirouette he had ever seen. I think it very unfair of papa to have dismissed him without so much as a by your leave. It was not his fault that he fell violently in love with me - after all I am an irresistible creature!

Saw some pretty muslins in the mercer’s - if only papa would let us buy a length or two for a new gown for the ball - I will ask mother to speak to him directly.
Kitty and I were greatly admired as we walked through the town. We met with Mr Wootton, Mr Howett, Mr Blount and Mr Edwards, all jolly fellows who have promised to be at the ball.

“Why, is it not the younger Miss Bennets?” Mr Edwards declared, crossing the street. “My how they have grown! How do you do ladies? Pray, do spare us a moment of your time. Is the rumour that you are to be at the next assembly true or is someone dallying with our dearest hopes and desires?”

“You know well enough it is true, Mr Edwards,” I scolded, “as I know full well that you spoke to my father yesterday and that he can be the only source of your intelligence. Kitty and I will be gracing the next ball, 'tis true and if you petition us politely, we may consider a pledge to dance.”

Kitty blushed red and poked me in the ribs at this retort but undeterred I continued to abuse Mr Edwards and his friends for a half hour complete. Judging by their avid attention, they were clearly enjoying my ribaldry and forthwith begged for our hands for the first four dances!

Mr Bingley had better take care! - He may not get his chance to dance with Longbourn’s finest executors of the ‘Boulanger’!
Mr Edwards is one of the most handsome men I have ever set eyes on!

Lydia Bennet

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Mr Bingley goes to Town

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.

Thursday, October 8th 1801

Mr Bingley returned our father’s call at last, but for all the excitement that entailed, I must own that I cannot see what all the fuss is about. I spied on him from an upstairs window and though he looks tolerably handsome in a blue coat, a regimental one of scarlet hue would work wonders for him in my opinion. Well, no doubt he will ask me to dance at the Meryton assembly. I will accept one turn about the floor, but he ought not to depend on me dancing more than once as, I daresay I shall be inundated with requests, - I ask you, can a girl help it if she is so popular?

Mother is out of sorts. Mr Bingley has gone to town and is not able to come to dinner as she had hoped.

"What business can he have in town so soon after his arrival in Hertfordshire?" she demanded of my father.

"I can't imagine why he should be so keen to get away," papa murmured from his hiding place behind a large firescreen, "when he must have invitations from every spinster in the neighbourhood cluttering up his mantleshelf." He popped out his head to wink at my sister. "What a prospect, eh, Lizzy? Don't you envy him?"

They both laughed heartily - at what, I do not know - they are always laughing at the stupidest things imaginable - it really vexes me.

Mama was not to be silenced on the subject. "It does not bode well, if he is to be constantly flying about from one place to another and never settling at Netherfield as he ought to be. We shall never see him and I cannot think how we are to dispose of all the extra victuals I ordered for the dinner he was to attend. It will not do!"

Lady Lucas called later with more intelligence and although mama has been comforted somewhat by the report that he is gone to London to get a large party for the ball - twelve ladies and seven young men - we remain unimpressed by the lack of gentlemen!

Lydia Bennet

Jane Austen's World Interview

Here is a link to an interview with yours truly over on Jane Austen's World.This is a wonderful site for research purposes or pure entertainment on all aspects of the life and times of our favourite author - accompanied by gorgeous illustrations.

The painting is of Cassandra and Jane Austen dressed for a ball. It was inspired by two silhouettes said to be of the sisters.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Review for Lydia Bennet's Story from Austenprose

The true misfortune, which besets any young lady who believes herself destined for fortune and favour, is to find that she has been born into an unsuitable family. Lydia Bennet of Longbourn, Hertfordshire, not only believed that her mama and papa had most likely stolen her from noble parents, but also considered it a small miracle that they could have produced between them her own fair self and four comely girls - Jane, Elizabeth, Mary and Kitty - though to tell the truth, she felt herself most blessed in looks. Chapter 1

It was no surprise to me when I discovered that Elizabeth Bennet’s impetuous little sister Lydia had been honored with her own book, Lydia Bennet’s Story, only amazed that it had taken so long for it to arrive on the Janeite bookshelf in the first place. Of all of Jane Austen’s characters in Pride and Prejudice, Lydia Bennet was one of the most intriguing creatures to recklessly flirt and scandalize a family; and for readers who enjoy a good adventure she is well worth her own treatment. In a bus accident sort of way, I have always longed to know more about her, and now we have been given our chance in this new edition available October 1st from Sourcebooks.

The novel can be categorized as a retelling and a sequel since the story begins about one third of the way into Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as Lydia’s older sisters Elizabeth and Jane are away from the family home of Longbourn respectively visiting the Collins’ at Hunsford and the Gardiner’s in London. The second half of the novel picks up after the conclusion of Pride and Prejudice when Lydia and her new husband George Wickham have moved to Newcastle. Interestingly, author Odiwe has chosen to tell the story by excerpts from Lydia’s journal supplemented by a third person narrative which Austen also employed allowing us the benefit of Lydia’s unbridled inner thoughts and a narrative of other characters dialogue and action to support it. A nice touch since both Austen’s and Odiwe’s Lydia are a bit over the top in reaction and interpretation of events, and the narrative gives readers some grounding for her breathless emotions.

And, reactions and emotions are what Lydia Bennet is all about and why I believe many may be intrigued by her. Just based on the fact that she is the youngest of five daughters raised by an indolent father and imprudent mother, one could be inspired to write a psychological thesis on all the mitigating factors in her environment that contributed to her personality! However, what Jane Austen introduced Jane Odiwe has cleverly expanded upon picking up the plot and style without missing a beat. Not only are we reminded that thoughtless, wild and outspoken Lydia is “the most determined flirt that ever made herself and her family ridiculous,” we begin to understand (but not always agree) with her reasoning’s and are swept up in the story like a new bonnet bought on impulse. Oh, to be but sixteen again without a care in the world except the latest fashions, local gossip, and which officer to dance with at the next Assembly are a delightful foundation for this excursion into Austenland that is both an amusement and a gentle morality story.

Even though author Odiwe succeeded in delivering a lively rendering of an impertinent young Miss bent on fashion, flirting and marriage, she missed her opportunity of a more expressive title which should have read something like ‘Lydia Bennet’s Romantic and Sometimes Naughty Adventures’! Not only is Miss Lydia a professional flirt approaching Beck Sharpe of Vanity Fair’s territory, she gets to travel to Brighton, London, Newcastle and Bath and have a few escapades along the way. Her determination to follow her latest flirtation George Wickham to Brighton and then infamously elope with him is renowned. Her unchecked impulses continue as the novel progresses through their patched up marriage and her new life in Newcastle where her husband has sadly grown tired of her and moved on to the next romantic tryst. Months pass, and after visits with her sisters Elizabeth at Pemberley and Jane at Netherfield, the reality of her husbands faults and her rash decision to marry him became soberly apparent.

Wednesday, October 27th

I feel so wretched I think I might die. All my hopes of making George love me have been completely dashed. In my heart I known this is not the only time I have been deceived; the rumours I have heard are more than gossip. Misery engulfs me…I had imagined that life would be so perfect with George, but I now know that my marriage is as tarnished as the copper pans in my kitchen.

No, there is only one way to deal with this problem. There is nothing I can do but forgive him. I am far too proud to have anyone catch a sniff of scandal and am determined to carry on as though nothing has happened. After all, surely most men are tempted at one time or another. The risk of sending him running off into his lover’s arms is great, and I do not want that above anything else. My heart might be broken, but it is not irreparable.

And later, her hopes are entirely dissolved.

Monday, May 2

…There are few to whom I would admit these thoughts, and on days like this, when I am consumed with sadness for what might have been, I find it hard to be at peace. For my own sake, I keep up the pretence that I am giddy and lighthearted as ever; I would not give the world the satisfaction of knowing anything else-in my heart, I am still the young girl who believes that perhaps my husband will realise that he has been in love with me all along and cannot do without me. But, I suspect, my longings are in vain.

How it all turns out for the young lady from Longbourn in Hertfordshire, I will not say. However, I will only allude that the concluding adventure of the most determined flirt to ever make her family ridiculous, might make Jane Austen smile. Lydia Bennet’s Story Adventure is rollicking good fun with a surpise twist. Now that my hope of a novel about her has come to fruition, it can only be surpassed by Lydia Bennet the movie. Imagine what folly and fun would ensue. La!

Laurel Ann, Austenprose

Leave a comment on Austenprose by October 31st. to qualify in a drawing for a new copy of Lydia Bennet’s Story, by Jane Odiwe. The winner will be announced on November 1st.

If you haven't visited Austenprose before I think you will enjoy it very much - it's always a truly interesting read with lots of Jane Austen related info, gossip and book news. Laurel Ann is presently conducting a group read of Northanger Abbey, with more great giveaways.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Mrs Bennet is elated!

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.

Monday, October 5th 1801

Mama has been in dire spirits for a week but, thank the Lord, everything changed today. So completely altered is her mood, that if a stranger happened to walk in on us this evening they might feel a certain alarm and deduce my mother quite ill! If I did not know better, I myself would suspect the hysterics, because all she has done tonight is laugh and flutter about like a deranged butterfly, dancing from sister to sister, alighting upon us with her lips pursed. My cheeks are damp with her kisses and I am certain papa's bald patch has suffered as a consequence of her frantic pecks - but it is such a relief to have her spirits restored, that I have endured it all without a single complaint!
He took great delight in teasing us all, but it transpires that papa has been to visit Mr Bingley after all and has made his acquaintance. Mama felt sure we would never be introduced and that one of Mrs Long’s nieces would have the advantage and be married by Christmas!

This was the scene. My mother (in vexed mood) had been scolding Kitty for coughing. Papa was teasing mama by saying that she could introduce Mrs Long to Bingley and she was getting cross because she knew that until she had been introduced to the gentleman, she could do no such thing.

"I am sick of Mr. Bingley," cried my mother.

"I am sorry to hear that;" replied my father, "but why did not you tell me so before? If I had known as much this morning I certainly would not have called on him. It is very unlucky; but as I have actually paid the visit, we cannot escape the acquaintance now."

Our astonishment was just what he wished. Our mother was more surprised than the rest of us; though, when the first tumult of joy was over, she began to declare that it was what she had expected all the while.

"How good it was in you, my dear Mr Bennet! But I knew I should persuade you at last. I was sure you loved your girls too well to neglect such an acquaintance. Well, how pleased I am! And it is such a good joke, too, that you should have gone this morning, and never said a word about it till now."

"Now, Kitty, you may cough as much as you chuse," said papa; and, as he spoke, he left the room, fatigued with the raptures of his wife.

I daresay Mr Bingley will dance with me at the next ball, as mother said, for although I am the youngest, I am the tallest and though I hate to boast, I must be one of the most handsome of all the young ladies in the parish. I daresay my elder sisters Jane and Lizzy will get their turn, especially if my mother has anything to do with it. She is determined that Mr Bingley is to marry one of her daughters!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Mrs Bennet is vexed!

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.

Friday, October 2nd, 1801

I found this picture in mama's monthly museum. Is it not the most divine image you have ever seen? It is a picture of Madame Recamier and the entry explains the reason for her picture being published:

The portrait of this celebrated lady is given more to gratify the curiosity of our fair readers, than for any peculiar excellence the original may possess. We have heard her much praised as a beauty; and for taste in dress, she stands unrivalled in her own country.

She does indeed appear to be quite lovely, though I am sure if I was married to a rich banker it would not be so very difficult to look as fetching. I rather think the lady has a striking resemblance to myself, (whatever Kitty says against the comparison) and I am determined to dress my hair in just the same fashion for the ball, which I still hope to attend. However, my dreams for dancing are not yet firm-my mother is in ill humour because papa insists that he will not call on Mr Bingley. I do not know what to make of papa at times, for I am sure he just teases mama to vex her and that we all suffer as a result is the only outcome! Kitty's prayers have become very fervent at night-I am sure of the two of us she has a better chance of having them answered, so I encourage her as much as I can to ask if we may please, please, please, go to the Ball!
The cut of Madame Recamier's gown is most becoming and I think if I adopt a similar style my own charms will be much enhanced-I shall set to with the scissors on my best muslin immediately!

If I cannot go to the ball, I shall just die!!!