Lydia Bennet’s Story
The flirtatious Lydia Bennet, the youngest sister in Pride and Prejudice, is the heroine of this delightful Jane Austen sequel. The first part of the book is a retelling, from Lydia’s point of view, of events already familiar to readers of Pride and Prejudice, including her stay with the regiment in Brighton, where, in one of Odiwe’s additions to the story, she flirts with a royal dragoon, and her elopement with the charming but unprincipled Mr. Wickham. In the second half, we follow Lydia to her new home in Newcastle, where her marriage rapidly deteriorates once she discovers her husband’s true character. Hurt by his many infidelities, she goes to stay at Netherfield with her sister Jane and her husband, Mr. Bingley. Elizabeth, Mr. Darcy, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Caroline Bingley, and other characters from Pride and Prejudice also make appearances. While at Netherfield, Lydia meets the clergyman Alexander Fitzalan, who at first seems haughty and arrogant, but eventually proves to understand Lydia’s situation better than anyone else, since he himself has been disappointed in love. At a ball, a woman turns up who claims to be married to Wickham, and Fitzalan offers to help Lydia discover the truth about her situation.
Although Lydia Bennet’s Story lacks Austen’s wit and irony, it is a well-written sequel to Pride and Prejudice and an absolute delight to read. The narrative is interspersed with Lydia’s diary entries, which are hilarious. Lydia matures quite a bit through the course of the novel and at the end is no longer the self-centered flirt she was at the beginning. The author makes this transition gradual and quite believable. The new characters are all very much in the spirit of Austen. I highly recommend this book to fans of Jane Austen or Regency romances.