Lydia: The Wild Girl of Pride and Prejudice

Lydia: The Wild Girl of Pride and Prejudice

Lydia: The Wild Girl of Pride and Prejudice
Natasha Farrant

Chicken House Ltd

ISBN 9781910002971

A spirited, witty and fresh reimagining of Jane Austen's Prideand 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?

Librarian's Book choice

In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice Lydia, the youngest of the Bennett sisters, is considered by her family to be silly, vain and ignorant and her elopement with the duplicitous officer Wickham seems to bear that out. But by giving Lydia her own story to tell, author Natasha Farrant provides a different view of Lydia, one in which a bubbly teenager forges her own path within a society that gives its women little freedom and even less choice.

Farrant's story is told by Lydia, so avoiding any need to mimic Austen's voice or style, but there is enough in the story to set it firmly within Austen's landscape; the etiquette, the narrowness of society and its entertainments, the desperation to have one's daughters married and settled.

Farrant's Lydia, rather than being foolish though, is a whirlwind of energy, self-reliance and hope. She manages to secure an invitation to Brighton where she determines to find herself a husband and a way out of her dull, narrow life. The seaside town - of which Austen did not approve - allows its visitors greater freedom from the usual social mores but in this there are dangers and, as in Austen's original work, the setting colours the story and helps to drive the events. In Brighton, a new plot line is introduced through the characters the Comte de Fombelle and his sister, who momentarily give Lydia a glimpse into a different, less reticent world.

Lydia, a gambler by nature, throws her dice and it lands unexpectedly; opening the way to Austen's ending of marriage to Wickham. Lydia and Wickham are gamblers and in the end, they will have to settle for each other.

Lydia: The Wild Girl of Pride and Prejudice is a beautifully written and crafted novel that works because it doesn't mimic Austen but it is imbued with Austen's landscapes and tone; the same significance of the minutiae, the measured formalities and voices within limited social settings, the dashes of humour, and a warmth for and understanding of its characters. Lydia, we are reminded, was just a teenager - and, in her willingness to find her own path in life, she is one the modern reader will want to applaud rather than judge.

Nor will readers have to know Pride and Prejudice to enjoy Farrant's work; it stands on its own although it also fills in many gaps for those who have read Austen's novel.

352 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Alison Hall