Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Review for Lydia Bennet's Story from Reader's Respite

The reviews are still coming in - I am very grateful for them all. I'd like to thank Michele for this one at Reader's Respite

Lydia Bennet's Story: A Sequel to Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Odiwe
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Book Source: Sourcebooks, Inc.

It is my greatest desire to fall in love and catch myself a husband, yet, whilst I am truly proficient in the art of becoming enamoured, so far finding my partner in life eludes me, however vigilant I have been in the endeavor.
Lydia Bennet's Story


As a true Jane Austen fan, I had until recently shunned all attempted "sequels" to any of Ms. Austen's great works. Fearing disappointment, I did not want to sully what to me is the perfect novel: Pride and Prejudice. As it turns out, I need not have worried. The term "sequel," I am happy to report, has no application whatsoever to Jane Odiwe's delightful novel, Lydia Bennet's Story.

The novel explores the life of Lydia, the youngest and arguably most insipid Bennet sister. What if Lydia wasn't as vapid as many surmised? What if she was just a silly young girl who made the typical mistakes of the young?

Author Jane Odiwe, thankfully, makes no attempt to be Jane Austen. Writing in third person with occasional glimpses into Lydia's diary, Odiwe brilliantly takes a supporting character from a classic tale and uniquely makes it her own. Lydia is presented as a normal teen-aged girl with normal teenage concerns and immaturity and the unfortunate luck to cross paths with that infamous 19th-century player, Mr Wickham. This doesn't mean she isn't endearing: quite the opposite. After all, it's difficult not to identify with thoughts such as

Mr Wickham will NOT be forgiven for his behaviour, though I can think of nothing else, playing over the scene in my head with a different ending each time. I now know just how I should have behaved and what I should have said which is vexing in the extreme.
Lydia Bennet's diary, Lydia Bennet's Story



By the end of the story, Lydia's actions were quite forgivable in my eyes. She made mistakes many of us can sympathize with, having made many of them ourselves, albeit in a different century. Over-weening pride - an allusion to the novel from which she springs - only compounds her misjudgments.

The underlying seriousness of the follies of youth notwithstanding, the novel is lighthearted enough for enjoyable read and I was quite pleased to discover that it may be considered a stand-alone story, meaning that one need not be an Austen aficionado nor even to have read Pride and Prejudice in order to enjoy this book. If, however, you are a serious Austen fan and are loath to try reading one of the many "sequels," you can safely set aside that fear in this instance and sit down with a very enjoyable tale. Happy reading!

No comments: