Monday, December 22, 2008

Blog Review Roundup!

I'm battling flu but starting to feel that at last I'm getting over it. I'm really looking forward to a holiday, I'm sure you are all too. Here's a Christmas round up of Blog reviews.

Once upon a Romance

Lydia Bennet elopes with Mr. George Wickham, but they do not marry. For Lydia's sister's sake, Mr. Darcy pursues Lydia and Wickham and makes Wickham marry Lydia. Lydia considers Darcy's help as their due and thinks Wickham would have married her soon, anyway. Unfortunately, Lydia soon gets a big dose of reality and learns Wickham's true character.

Lydia Bennet's Story gives great insight into Lydia's character and spins an entertaining tale of Lydia's life. Lydia is a rather selfish, naive, young woman, who desires attention, especially from her father. This desire for her father's attention and her mother's focus on marriage for her daughters is probably the reason that Lydia is such a flirt. At first, Lydia has blinders on about Wickham's true character, but slowly, she realizes what a scoundrel he really is. Lydia has to grow up, but she still retains her fun-loving qualities and has a promise of happily everafter. While I enjoyed this book greatly, I thought it ended a little too abruptly.

All in all, Lydia Bennet's Story is an entertaining story, which shows Lydia in a sympathetic light. Ms. Odiwe does something, that I thought nearly impossible--redeem Lydia Bennett.

Marlene Breakfield


Reading Romance Books

When the opportunity arose to receive, read and review Lydia Bennet’s Story by Jane Odiwe, I was thrilled!
Being an immense fan of anything Jane Austen, I was eager to read this book despite its being about my least favorite P&P character. Elizabeth Bennet’s youngest sister, Lydia, who was the cause of much scandal and heartache, was most irritating to me. After reading this story, however, I’ve come to a certain understanding that perhaps we are all, at times, as reckless and as deluded as Lydia.
For those not familiar with Pride and Prejudice, a silly and impetuous Lydia runs off with a Mr. Wickham, believing herself in love. Mr. Darcy eventually hunts them down and essentially bribes Mr. Wickham to go through with the marriage. Not much else is said of the distasteful couple, except to mention, at the end, their contact with the Darcies and Bingleys for financial aid, etc.
Lydia Bennet’s Story begins in the midst of Pride and Prejudice. We follow Lydia on her journey to Brighton with her friend, Harriet Forster. We are given a view on her stay there and the events leading to her “elopement” with Mr. Wickham. We see the result of Mr. Darcy’s efforts and watch them marry and relocate to Newcastle. This is where the story diverges from Pride and Prejudice and becomes entirely original.
Despite my preformed opinion of Lydia, the story was entertaining to read. Perhaps I am no judge, but the language was as identical to that of Jane Austen’s as is likely. I did find the pace a bit slow in parts, but that also seems to authenticate the era. I think even the famed author would be pleased with the direction of the plot.
My favorite parts of the book were, understandably, the parts that continued Lizzy and Jane’s story in their respective marriages. Lydia was quite envious of their good fortune. I, myself, still pine for Mr. Darcy.
By the end of the book, I had changed my opinion of Lydia. In her, I saw some of the stupid mistakes that I have made in life. Lydia learned from her folly and matured somewhat, though not changing in essentials. I was happy to see that things ended ideally for her. Perhaps my errors will be so easily remedied!
Along with my book came a bookmark with the following website on it. I was quite interested to hear of it! www.austenfans.com
I look forward to reading the many other P&P spin-offs out there!
Grade: A- (make sure you like this type of book before going for it!)

Dana


Austenblog

Lydia Bennet is not what one would consider an attractive character. “Vain, ignorant, idle, and absolutely uncontrolled!” her sister Elizabeth cries about her in a trying moment, and the reader tends to sympathize. Lydia does share DNA with Jane and Elizabeth, so it stands to reason that she must have some redeeming qualities; yet fan fiction writer after sequel writer (including your humble servant) uses Lydia only as a convenient punching bag and plot point. However, Jane Odiwe has given Lydia Bennet a plausible backstory that, if it doesn’t redeem her, at least gives her the benefit of the doubt; and a happier ending than one would expect, and happier than the cynical Janeite might think she probably deserves.

The first half of the book tells the events of Pride and Prejudice from Lydia’s point of view. She is wild for officers and sexually precocious. She fixes on George Wickham, and is disappointed when he goes after nasty, freckled Mary King and her ten thousand pounds. Wickham has much to answer for in this story. He awakens Lydia’s sexuality and takes advantage of a young girl in full hormonal overload. He knows exactly what he is doing, and while Lydia certainly knows better, anyone who remembers being fifteen and in the throes of one’s first relationship can perfectly understand how she is led astray by a manipulative, self-centered man. This part of the story is absorbing and well-written, sexy without being explicit, and like the best of such alternative-viewpoint Austen paraliterature, we get a new, thoughtful, and sympathetic perspective on a well-known, well-loved classic.

We all know the story: Lydia is married, her sisters are married, Mrs. Darcy and Mrs. Bingley live happily ever after and Lydia not so much. The End, right? But the tell-tale lack of compression of the pages tells us that the book is only half finished. There is more to come, and the second half of the book is where we fear some Janeites will have to work hard to suspend their disbelief. (We had to club ours into submission and lock it into the closet for a few hours.) The Wickhams’ marriage is much like one would expect: he gambles and whores around, and she alternates between self-delusion and pitching the occasional hissy fit. However, there is not much story there, so Ms. Odiwe tosses in a shocking twist that we’re sure Jane Austen never intended but allows her to give her heroine as happy an ending as she could want. While the second half is well-written and enjoyable, we fear many Janeites will find it too much out of canon. However, if the reader is comfortable with non-canonical Austen paraliterature, we think she will find Lydia Bennet’s Story an absorbing read; and those who think they are not comfortable with such stories might enjoy it in spite of themselves.

Mags

2 comments:

Laurel Ann said...

Dear Jane I hope that you have recovered to enjoy your Christmas holiday. I am so glad that there is so much chatter about Lydia. I heartily agree with the reviewer that said that it was amazing to think that Lydia could be redeemed. You did a beautiful job of it and I am so looking forward to your next sequel of Sense and Sensibiity.

Cheers, Laurel Ann

Jane Odiwe said...

Thank you so much for your kind comments Laurel Ann. I am feeling a bit better-I hope you are too!