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Read This! "Lydia Bennet's Story" by Jane Odiwe
I'm an die hard Jane Austen fan, her unfailing devotion to a love-conquers-all ideal dovetails with my inner romantic perfectly. But above all, she was a brilliant writer, filling her novels with sparkling dialogue and great wit. The characters may not always been totally realistic (Fanny in Mansfield Park gets this accusation lobbed at her quite frequently) but there is much heart and spunk behind the heroines.
I wasn't sure what I would make of another author taking a stab at these characters, continuing the stories of my favorite of the Austen novels, Pride And Prejudice. But I'm always game to try new books, and if Lydia Bennett was ruined in Jane Odiwe's story I would not be that distressed. After all, even her father finds her to be one of the silliest girls in the land.
Lydia Bennet's Story starts while Lizzie is visiting her cousin Mr. Collins and his wife. Lydia flirts with the dashing Mr. Wickham, as well as any other redcoat that will ask her to dance. When she finally makes it to Brighton, she finds Mr. Wickham continues to tickle her fancy, but she is quite put off by his interest in other ladies. When she convinces herself that she loves him, and he loves her, the elopement plans fall quickly into place. About halfway through out the novel Odiwe begins to continue the story past what we know from Austen's narrative.
Lydia, while still quite silly, cannot help but notice her new husband is not really as perfect as she had led herself to believe. She continues to flirt harmlessly, but her spouse goes beyond flirtations, as well as gambling and drinking. Mrs. Wickham invites herself to her sister Jane's new home, while Mr. Wickham takes himself to Bath. While reconnecting to her old friends, she finds herself at odds with the brother of one. Scandal strikes, and Lydia learns about real emotional connections.
The ending is pretty easy to guess once you get into the second half of the novel, but like Austen's stories, the plot always takes a backseat to tone and wit. Lydia Bennet's Story is no different. While some of the comments are more ribald than dear Jane would have penned, Odiwe really captures the playful social commentary that Austen loved to present. I was quite pleased with this novel, it's light and fluffy but with a lot of heart.
C. PAUL KELLER
Libraryqueue blogspot by Tricia
She really is the silliest girl in all England.
Thankfully, Odiwe doesn't make her any less silly in this sequel, but you do understand why Lydia is the way she is and what motivates her rash decisions. This book is told in both journal and third person narratives, providing an interesting perspective on the events we know so well from Pride and Prejudice. The novel continues Lydia's story after her marriage to George Wickham, which you'll have to read if you want to see how it all turns out. Needless to say, it happens a lot as I imagined it would, except for the ending. Let's just say, it was all tied up a little too "happily ever after" for me.
Lydia Bennet's Story is a fun Regency period read. It was a little naughty for me in some parts, complete with heaving bosoms, but overall I found it enjoyable and true to the Austen spirit.