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.
Lydia Bennet's Story also was reviewed by:
Savvy Verse & Wit
A Book Blogger's Diary