Review: ‘Lydia: The Wild Girl of Pride and Prejudice’ by Natasha Farrant

Blurb from Amazon:

A spirited, witty and fresh reimagining of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice! Lydia is the youngest Bennet sister and she’s sick of country life – instead of sewing and reading, she longs for adventure. When a red-coated garrison arrives in Merryton, Lydia‘s life turns upside down. As she falls for dashing Wickham, she’s swept into a whirlwind social circle and deposited in a seaside town, Brighton. Sea-bathing, promenades and scandal await – and a pair of intriguing siblings. Can Lydia find out what she really wants – and can she get it?

Review:

Oh, what a wonderful read this was! This was one of those books that I kept on getting out of the public library, thinking I would read it- for anyone who knows me knows that I am a paid-up die hard fan of Jane Austen-and then found myself putting it to one side and forgetting about it. But this week I picked it up again and I am so, SO glad I did because this book is a little jewel- light as pastry, fun, immersive, thoroughly researched and- surprisingly-both moving and engrossing. In Pride and Prejudice, Lydia Bennet- the youngest of the five Bennet sisters- is a minor character intent on causing major havoc through her childish, selfish actions and caprices. Her elopement with the evil Mr Wickham is one of the novel’s most shocking points- she risks not only damaging her own reputation but also her other sisters’ marriage prospects (at the time, a fate worse than death.) The reader is left to assume Lydia did it through selfishness, in the woozy haze of infatuation. Here, however, Lydia is given her own voice, and we are therefore treated to her own side of the story. It becomes clear that, although not perfect, she is far more clever and witty than what the reader assumed.

Through Farrant’s skilful writing-a deft blend of humour, lightness and action-Lydia‘s voice is one of spirit, mischievousness and surprising yearning- not just for Wickham, but for a life lived on her own terms. Yes, some of her actions are selfish and she does come across as conceited at points, but overall I found her endearing and relatable. She is no longer a dancing, giggling thorn in Mrs Bennet’s side, she is a fully fleshed individual, with her own dreams, fears, hopes, flaws and foibles. I loved how impulsive and unconventional she was- in an era of meek, mild-mannered wives, she dares to speak her own mind and cause trouble.

In terms of how it is written, I also grew surprisingly fond of the diary entry format (not usually my favourite format,) and the way each diary entry had it’s own unique doodle, as if it came from the hand of a daydreaming Lydia herself. I also loved all the little historical details- the attention Lydia pays to the fashions of the time, the way in which she describes 1800s Brighton and things like bathing machines. (Unexpectedly interesting, believe me.) All in all I absolutely loved this book, and zoomed through it in a few days. A wonderful read, and recommended even if you’re not a fan of Austen.

Overall rating: 10 out of 10! 😀

Read if you enjoyed: ‘The Dark Days Club’ by Alison Goodman (my review here)

This book in four words: Fun. Spirited. Witty. Light.

Favourite character: Lydia, of course!

Images via fangirlingandunicorns on Tumblr

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