Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Night at Longbourn

I have never been so disappointed in all my life – all my dreams for a felicitous evening in Richard's company have come to nought! I dressed myself with great care and thought I looked very pretty with my gold earrings dangling in my ears and Mary’s brooch secured where I knew Capt. C could not fail to notice or admire its soft curves and pink petals against my skin.
Fortunately much of the snow had melted by the time the coaches made their slow but steady progress through the frozen lanes to Meryton. Half of Meryton and half of the militia were there but alas and alack, no Richard, who had sent word and apologies to my aunt to say that the affliction of a sore throat that he had had the misfortune to contract before Christmas, was giving him great discomfort and that he was therefore obliged to stay at home.
I cannot express my dismay, especially as I had only seen Capt. C. at church this morning, where to all intents and purposes he appeared to be in the bloom of health. Poor love, he must be ill indeed and with no one to comfort him. I almost felt inclined to run down the street to his lodgings so that I could nurse him but I decided he would be dull company if his voice is gone and I could not suffer to do all the entertaining myself.
My only comfort is that Diana could not flirt with him all night as it turned out she was unable to attend the party too, as following her revels in the snow last evening, her snuffles had developed into a sore throat which from all reports sounded worse than Captain Carter’s.
Despite my disappointment, we had a lot of fun. We played Snapdragon, which I love, although I always manage to burn my fingers snatching the raisins from the flaming brandy. Bullet Pudding, another old favourite made everybody laugh and choke by turns, not to mention turning our faces ghostly white from dipping our heads into the flour. Denny made himself sick when in his haste to grasp the bullet between his teeth, he ingested rather more of the flour pudding than he would have liked. We had Blind Man’s Buff and Charades, which I think is always more amusing when I have the answers!
At eleven we gathered to hear the singers who were at the door, but they were so full of Christmas good cheer, that their drunken voices were all out of tune and never together. Kitty and I were immensely diverted and could not help but laugh, as a poor unfortunate who was struggling to keep upright, cast about for support, missed the arm of his friend and fell headlong into the snow.
Afterwards, as we returned to start the dancing, I passed under the mistletoe, just as Mr Wickham did. He immediately begged for a kiss and I have to record that it was not the filial peck that I expected. It was far from being unpleasant and if I am truthful, I must add that were he to request another I would happily oblige!

Lydia Bennet

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas everyone - I hope you all have a lovely time and a very Happy New Year. May all your wishes come true!

with love,
Jane Odiwe

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Day at Longbourn

Friday, December 25th, 1801

Christmas Day

We trudged through the snow to Church, (Captain Carter winked at me across the aisle!) and then home to breakfast on hot rolls and fruit cake, taken with a cup of chocolate, for our delight. We exchanged presents and I have made a list of the wonderful gifts I have received -
Mama - a pair of gold earrings
Papa - a rosewood jewel box
Jane - a swansdown muff
Lizzy - a pair of gloves
Mary - a rosebud brooch
Kitty - a turquoise ring
They are the loveliest presents I have ever had! I just know that this is going to be the best Christmas ever!!!
We dined on turkey, beef and plum pudding at four and were the very picture of a merry Christmas party. Even Mary failed to get on my nerves today, although I daresay the partaking of a little wine helped me to endure her rantings tolerably well.
I have spent most of the day in delicious reverie, recounting to myself the events of last evening. Shivers of ecstasy tremble over me whenever I recall Capt. C’s touch as he took my hand in the dance.
Papa was most rude to suggest that late nights only stupefy the younger members of the family and he is threatening to keep us all from our party at my aunt’s, in favour of an early night. I cannot wait to see my beloved Captain; the hours pass too slowly!

Lydia Bennet

Monday, December 22, 2008

Blog Review Roundup!

I'm battling flu but starting to feel that at last I'm getting over it. I'm really looking forward to a holiday, I'm sure you are all too. Here's a Christmas round up of Blog reviews.

Once upon a Romance

Lydia Bennet elopes with Mr. George Wickham, but they do not marry. For Lydia's sister's sake, Mr. Darcy pursues Lydia and Wickham and makes Wickham marry Lydia. Lydia considers Darcy's help as their due and thinks Wickham would have married her soon, anyway. Unfortunately, Lydia soon gets a big dose of reality and learns Wickham's true character.

Lydia Bennet's Story gives great insight into Lydia's character and spins an entertaining tale of Lydia's life. Lydia is a rather selfish, naive, young woman, who desires attention, especially from her father. This desire for her father's attention and her mother's focus on marriage for her daughters is probably the reason that Lydia is such a flirt. At first, Lydia has blinders on about Wickham's true character, but slowly, she realizes what a scoundrel he really is. Lydia has to grow up, but she still retains her fun-loving qualities and has a promise of happily everafter. While I enjoyed this book greatly, I thought it ended a little too abruptly.

All in all, Lydia Bennet's Story is an entertaining story, which shows Lydia in a sympathetic light. Ms. Odiwe does something, that I thought nearly impossible--redeem Lydia Bennett.

Marlene Breakfield

Reading Romance Books

When the opportunity arose to receive, read and review Lydia Bennet’s Story by Jane Odiwe, I was thrilled!
Being an immense fan of anything Jane Austen, I was eager to read this book despite its being about my least favorite P&P character. Elizabeth Bennet’s youngest sister, Lydia, who was the cause of much scandal and heartache, was most irritating to me. After reading this story, however, I’ve come to a certain understanding that perhaps we are all, at times, as reckless and as deluded as Lydia.
For those not familiar with Pride and Prejudice, a silly and impetuous Lydia runs off with a Mr. Wickham, believing herself in love. Mr. Darcy eventually hunts them down and essentially bribes Mr. Wickham to go through with the marriage. Not much else is said of the distasteful couple, except to mention, at the end, their contact with the Darcies and Bingleys for financial aid, etc.
Lydia Bennet’s Story begins in the midst of Pride and Prejudice. We follow Lydia on her journey to Brighton with her friend, Harriet Forster. We are given a view on her stay there and the events leading to her “elopement” with Mr. Wickham. We see the result of Mr. Darcy’s efforts and watch them marry and relocate to Newcastle. This is where the story diverges from Pride and Prejudice and becomes entirely original.
Despite my preformed opinion of Lydia, the story was entertaining to read. Perhaps I am no judge, but the language was as identical to that of Jane Austen’s as is likely. I did find the pace a bit slow in parts, but that also seems to authenticate the era. I think even the famed author would be pleased with the direction of the plot.
My favorite parts of the book were, understandably, the parts that continued Lizzy and Jane’s story in their respective marriages. Lydia was quite envious of their good fortune. I, myself, still pine for Mr. Darcy.
By the end of the book, I had changed my opinion of Lydia. In her, I saw some of the stupid mistakes that I have made in life. Lydia learned from her folly and matured somewhat, though not changing in essentials. I was happy to see that things ended ideally for her. Perhaps my errors will be so easily remedied!
Along with my book came a bookmark with the following website on it. I was quite interested to hear of it!
I look forward to reading the many other P&P spin-offs out there!
Grade: A- (make sure you like this type of book before going for it!)



Lydia Bennet is not what one would consider an attractive character. “Vain, ignorant, idle, and absolutely uncontrolled!” her sister Elizabeth cries about her in a trying moment, and the reader tends to sympathize. Lydia does share DNA with Jane and Elizabeth, so it stands to reason that she must have some redeeming qualities; yet fan fiction writer after sequel writer (including your humble servant) uses Lydia only as a convenient punching bag and plot point. However, Jane Odiwe has given Lydia Bennet a plausible backstory that, if it doesn’t redeem her, at least gives her the benefit of the doubt; and a happier ending than one would expect, and happier than the cynical Janeite might think she probably deserves.

The first half of the book tells the events of Pride and Prejudice from Lydia’s point of view. She is wild for officers and sexually precocious. She fixes on George Wickham, and is disappointed when he goes after nasty, freckled Mary King and her ten thousand pounds. Wickham has much to answer for in this story. He awakens Lydia’s sexuality and takes advantage of a young girl in full hormonal overload. He knows exactly what he is doing, and while Lydia certainly knows better, anyone who remembers being fifteen and in the throes of one’s first relationship can perfectly understand how she is led astray by a manipulative, self-centered man. This part of the story is absorbing and well-written, sexy without being explicit, and like the best of such alternative-viewpoint Austen paraliterature, we get a new, thoughtful, and sympathetic perspective on a well-known, well-loved classic.

We all know the story: Lydia is married, her sisters are married, Mrs. Darcy and Mrs. Bingley live happily ever after and Lydia not so much. The End, right? But the tell-tale lack of compression of the pages tells us that the book is only half finished. There is more to come, and the second half of the book is where we fear some Janeites will have to work hard to suspend their disbelief. (We had to club ours into submission and lock it into the closet for a few hours.) The Wickhams’ marriage is much like one would expect: he gambles and whores around, and she alternates between self-delusion and pitching the occasional hissy fit. However, there is not much story there, so Ms. Odiwe tosses in a shocking twist that we’re sure Jane Austen never intended but allows her to give her heroine as happy an ending as she could want. While the second half is well-written and enjoyable, we fear many Janeites will find it too much out of canon. However, if the reader is comfortable with non-canonical Austen paraliterature, we think she will find Lydia Bennet’s Story an absorbing read; and those who think they are not comfortable with such stories might enjoy it in spite of themselves.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Eve at Longbourn

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.

Thursday, December 24th, 1801

Lord! I am frozen to the bone with hands that are so swollen and itching with the cold, it is impossible to write. I daresay I have frostbite and the apothecary will have to be summoned and I shall lose some if not all of my fingers.
I awoke early this morning, filled with a sense of tingling pleasure at the prospect of the festivities to come and the promise of a day, which might bring any amount of delights. The weather was bitterly cold, there were dark grey clouds looming over the hills, and swirls of frost painted like fairy ferns and flowers on my bedchamber window.
Kitty and I went with Jenkins the gardener to help bring in the holly, ivy and mistletoe, which is a tradition we have carried out since ever I can remember. To think that I imagined it was the highlight of Jenkins' year! I was sorely mistaken.
I could not find my mittens and Kitty would not let me wear hers and so I had to struggle without any. I am prickled all over, scratched by holly and stained by berries and to make matters worse, Jenkins, the old brute, insisted that we walk as far as Holly Knoll which is a good two mile walk away with a contraption on wheels, which we had to take turns to pull. If I had known we were setting off on such an expedition and that I would be forced to endure not only exhaustion but also a snow blizzard on our return, I should never have gone. Jenkins’ humour does not improve with age. I have a childhood memory of a jovial chap, lifting me onto his shoulders and carrying me home - not the snarling, grumpy, ill-humoured old troll that actually raised his voice to me on Christmas Eve, of all days. I do not know whether I shall recover in time for this evening’s entertainment and if I do not, we will all know who is to blame. I have had to forgo the enjoyment of decorating the house as I am too ill and mama has insisted that I lie down. She says I have a very similar constitution to her own, and as we are such delicate creatures we must be careful and conserve our strength. Hill has been sent up with a bowl of hot soup - she was muttering away under her breath, something about having enough to do, birds to pluck, stock to stew, pies to bake. Anyone would think I was desirous of being an invalid! I will lie down for a while so I will feel refreshed for this evening’s revels. Captain Carter and Mr Wickham have promised to attend. And whilst I contemplate that certainty I feel I have every chance of recovery!

Lydia Bennet

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas at Longbourn: The Sweetest Ridicule!

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.

Wednesday, December 23rd, 1801

I have observed this evening at Aunt Philips’s house that Aunt Gardiner was far too occupied in watching my sister Lizzy with Mr Wickham to take much notice of me, which is a blessing indeed! They are becoming rather exclusive in one another’s company.
Dearest Isabella has made me a present of the sweetest ridicule, made by her own fair hands. Fashioned from ivory satin, it is embroidered with flowers and ties with a blue silk cord.

Lydia Bennet

Friday, December 19, 2008

Visitors to Longbourn with Christmas Presents!

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.

Wednesday, December 23rd, 1801

At last Mr Collins left us on Saturday and in his stead my Aunt and Uncle Gardiner have arrived from London today. When my mother stopped talking and mithering my aunt long enough for her to catch her breath, she was able to sit down and give us all our Christmas presents. I have a beautiful amethyst cross on a gold chain, which came in a box lined with green velvet and tied with a scarlet ribbon. Mama received a pair of cameo earrings, papa, a court calendar bound in Morocco, Jane, a gold locket, Lizzy, a topaz cross on a gold chain, Kitty, a cut coral necklace and Mary, a gold twisted ring and some music. We were all delighted.

I am very fond of my aunt but I must add that she does tend to favour Jane and Lizzy rather too much for my liking - they are often to be found closeted away somewhere having secret conversations of their own which Kitty, Mary and I are excluded from. She is always a most generous and affable aunt but I have sometimes caught her watching me, wearing an expression of plain disapproval. I am a little wary in her company and indeed I find that mama with whom I can usually do no wrong is constantly finding fault or reprimanding me when her brother and sister are in attendance, as if she sees me anew through their critical eyes.

Lydia Bennet

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Merry Party with Captain Carter!

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.
Friday, December 18th, 1801
We had a merry party last night, although to say the truth there were some tense moments, which threatened to dispel the party atmosphere. My mother barely had a word to say to the Lucas family and to make matters worse Sir William and Lady Lucas were congeniality itself. It was left to papa and Aunt Philips to smooth the waters and on the whole I think they succeeded. Poor Charlotte was completely snubbed by mama and whenever the lovers were seen to be whispering together, my mother loudly pronounced that she expected they were making a close study of her drawing room in order to draw up plans for its alteration.

How handsome the officers were last night, so charming, and all such great flirts that I really had to have my wits about me. I wish Lizzy were not so partial to Mr Wickham, however, I hardly got my chance to speak to him.
I observed the Captain and Diana closely all evening and I am now assured that there is no affection in the case whatsoever, in fact they scarce spoke a word to each other. Diana did not seem to seek out his company, indeed, she completely ignored our handsome Captain.

Mary played the pianoforte, as all evenings of any worth must have some dancing. Kitty danced with Denny on several occasions but she is quite silly at times, smirking at me every time Captain Carter linked onto me or made any special attention to me as we went down the set. But I suppose it must be very obvious how much he admires me! As we galloped down the length of the room he whispered that there is nothing he enjoys more than to watch me dancing with such spirit and declared that I am a very pretty girl! He said he hopes he shall have the pleasure of dancing with me repeated often during the festive season. I agreed wholeheartedly, adding that my hopes entirely matched his own!!

Kitty plagued me to death when everyone had gone home and after she confided that Denny had tried to steal a kiss in the parlour, for which she gave him short shrift, I told her I thought I was falling in love with Richard Carter and that he clearly felt the same, to which she replied that she thought it most likely that with all the attention that we receive wherever we go, that we shall be married to rich men before any of our sisters!

Lydia Bennet

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Charlotte Lucas and Mr Collins!

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.

Thursday, December 17th, 1801

The village of Longbourn are united in their condemnation of Mr Darcy and Mr Wickham is deservedly feted wherever he goes. He is in great demand for every social event and although he is clearly partial to our company here, it has sometimes proved difficult to secure him for every soiree. Mama has invited him and some of the officers for an evening party tonight and we are all looking forward to seeing them. Isabella and Diana will of course be included and I think Captain Carter is hardly likely to stay away.

Mama has been obliged to extend the invitation to the Lucases as Mr Collins is still here. I do wish he would go home. Despite the fact that he spends a large portion of the day with Charlotte, he is always turning up when you least want him and I have already been scolded for speaking ill of Lady Catherine’s nephew. You would think Mr Darcy shared his own blood from the ranting that ensued. My mother has cautioned me to watch my tongue, adding that she does not care two straws for Lady Catherine, her relations or clergymen but in the interests of a quiet evening, it would perhaps be better if I were to refrain mentioning Mr Darcy and his family in front of Mr Collins.

I am to wear an altered pink silk gown of mama’s, which I have persuaded her to give me. It flatters my figure so nicely that I am sure of it captivating an entire regiment!

Lydia Bennet

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jane Austen's Birthday, December 16th, 1775

On this day in 1775 Jane Austen was born.

Cassy knew there was something different about the house when she woke up. Apart from the dying wood embers of the glowing nursery fire and the darkness outside telling her that it was still night time, there was a lot of noise and activity inside. She could hear the patter of boys' feet on the polished stairs and the sort of anxious whispering, which though meant to be quiet cannot but help rouse even the most ardent sleeper. Despite the warmth of the room she shivered under her covers and as her eyes adjusted to the light she looked about and listened. What was it that had woken her up? What was that noise all about? Cassandra did not have long to wait to find out. The door of the nursery slowly creaked open and the head of a brother appeared. Which one was it?

"Are you asleep, Cassy?" called Edward.

Little Cassy held her arms up to her big brother. "Tedard," she called.

Edward was over at her side in a moment, scooping her up into his arms. "Come with me," he whispered. "Something very exciting has happened. Come and see."

Fully awake in seconds, caught by Edward's enthusiasm yet struggling to get down from his arms straight away, she nevertheless clung onto her brother's hand allowing him to guide her footsteps. Down the cold corridor they crept past the window looking out onto the garden where the first feathers of snow hurtled down onto the hard, frosty ground. She could see mama's room coming into view, a blaze of light, the noise of chattering voices and another sound, most unfamiliar, like that of some small mewing kitten. Everyone was crowded into the room. There was papa seated at some distance looking on at all the excitement, his white head nodding and moving in the agreeable way it always did when he was most pleased. James and Henry were sitting on the bed utterly enthralled by something mama was holding in her arms. Edward brought his sister forward and lifted Cassandra up onto the bed.

"Cassy, here is your sister, Jenny," said Mrs Austen. "Now what do you think? Here is a little playfellow for you."

Cassy looked down at the bundle in her mother's arms. This snuffling creature did not look very much as if it would be capable of anything very much, let alone become a plaything. But as Cassy gazed at the pink and white cheeks of her little sister, she decided that the baby was adorable. She put out her hand to touch one of the baby's fingers that had escaped from its swaddling. The tiny hand gripped her finger so fiercely that Cassy giggled. She looked up at her mother.
"She knows you are her sister and that you will always look after her," said Mrs Austen. "Miss Jane Austen, an early Christmas present for her big sister. Happy Christmas Cassy!"

And Cassy knew then as she kissed the baby's cheek that she would always love the special present that she believed came especially for her.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Kissing Captain Carter's Ear

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.

Wednesday, December 16th, 1801
Kitty and I set forth to Meryton to visit our friends at Emma Nicolson’s. We were eager to tell them and anybody we met along the way about our news of poor Wickham’s treatment at the hands of vile Mr Darcy. Everyone was shocked, although not in the least surprised, for Mr Darcy is generally despised by all who have had the misfortune to become acquainted with him.
Isabella and Diana voiced their concerns about my sister with regards to Mr Bingley’s friendship with Darcy.

“Jane is probably better off without him,” Isabella declared. “Who knows what sort of a gentleman Bingley really is, if he can be friends with the likes of a man who would deny his childhood friend the right to his inheritance?”

We were all agreed on this point but feel very sorry for Jane because a broken heart takes so long to mend and as Kitty pointed out she would have been certain of a rich and comfortable home, dresses, bonnets, gloves and shoes of the latest fashion and a carriage of her own. What more could anyone ask for?

“I am sure I would not have let him get away so soon, if I had thought he was on the verge of making ME an offer,” cried Diana. “There are tricks a girl can employ to keep her beau interested you know and if Jane had anything about her, she would have at least attempted one or two.”

“Diana!” cried Emma, “Whatever can you mean, you bad girl?”

“I do not mean anything so wholly naughty,” she protested, “but a few stolen kisses and soft, whisperings in his ear would go a long way to keep a man like Bingley interested.”

“You speak as though from experience, Diana!” I shrieked and although she hotly denied any such behaviour, her blushes betrayed her yet again. As everyone fell about, insensible with laughter I could not but wonder about her employment of ‘tricks’ and a vision of Diana kissing Captain Carter’s ear floated before my eyes.

Lydia Bennet

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cupid Collins returns

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.

Monday, December 14th, 1801

Charlotte’s ardent lover has returned, along with my mother’s ill humour. One wonders when poor Lizzy will ever be forgiven for her decision not to marry our cousin Collins.

Tuesday, December 15th, 1801

Jane seems terribly out of sorts today and Kitty has surmised that it may be the result of reading a letter that arrived this morning. However, as we do not have the exact intelligence from whence it came, we suspect it to be either from Mr Bingley or his sister who were of the party that left Netherfield at the end of November for the London season and have not returned since. If I were Jane I should have cried out my heart, for in London he will be introduced to any number of young ladies who will not only be handsome but will have the advantage of a large dowry. What young man would not be tempted to fall in love with a pretty girl or even a grisly maid who has several thousand pounds to line his coffers? How soon will he forget our dearest Jane when every scheming chaperone in London town will be eyeing up Bingley’s prospects and throwing their girls in his path?

My mother is very effusive on the subject and Jane is very quiet and withdrawn. How I feel for her - those Bingley sisters have more than likely sullied my sister’s name and reputation and have schemes of their own to keep them apart!

Lizzy has told us all some dreadful news concerning Mr Darcy and his infamous behaviour towards Mr Wickham. It transpires that dear Wickham who grew up with Mr Darcy on the Pemberley estate in Derbyshire and was the son of the old steward there (much favoured and respected by Mr Darcy’s father) has been denied the living he should have had and which was promised to him on the old squire’s death. Although I feel very sorry for him, I must admit that I for one am pleased that Wickham is delighting us all in his regimentals - I do not think he would have looked quite so handsome in clerical black!

Lydia Bennet

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Review round-up for Lydia Bennet's Story

Two reviews for Lydia Bennet's Story from Book Zombie Blogspot and The Reviewer Blogspot

Book Zombie

Readers of Austen will know that Lydia Bennet is the younger sister of Elizabeth and Jane, while never a major character she always left a major impact with her appearances. Crazy, wilful and out of control, she is much more like a wood nymph than a true lady. But that spark of wildness is exactly what made her character so enthralling. And now author Jane Odiwe has given Lydia a chance to shine in her very own book.

Lydia Bennet’s Story is a sequel to Pride And Prejudice, but in order to fully understand Lydia the book begins by going back to Pride And Prejudice and revisiting the events from Lydia’s point of view. From there it continues on as a sequel focusing on Lydia’s story.

It would be easy to dismiss Lydia as a stereo-typical teenager and little sister, acting out as either a way to gain attention or out of plain simple-mindedness. However, Jane Odiwe uses Lydia’s own journal writing throughout this novel to add a certain depth to Lydia’s character, allowing the reader to connect with her rather than pass her off as an annoyance.

The best part of Lydia Bennet’s Story, for me, was seeing that Lydia does realize that her actions and attitude are not proper. She might act righteous and seem to not care how people view her as a person, but the jottings from her personal diary show that she is thinking of these things. She knows when she could have handled things differently and that shows maturity and growth on her part.

Lydia Bennet’s Story is not only a terrific story but also a wonderful example of Jane Odiwe’s talent at character development. With just a bit of background she has transformed Lydia into a character worthy of her own novel. I believe this is a fantastic Austen sequel, because it changes nothing of the original Austen creations, instead it digs deeper and adds more personality to a secondary character creating a story line that veers in another direction.

The Reviewer

I must admit that I have been getting pretty sick of the Austen books. I have read all the ones that cross my hand and very rarely, VERY RARELY, do I find one that I enjoy. It seems that some of these authors get so caught up in continuing the story of the Jane and Darcy and Lizzy and Bingley that they don’t take the time to create a thoughtful and entertaining story. At least to me.

On that note, I loved this book.

I fully expected to hate this book. I expected to finish it and thank my lucky stars that I only had one Austen related book on my desk. I was sad when this book ended.
Of all the Bennet sisters I always liked Lydia. She seemed like she would be fun to be around. What young girl doesn’t like to party every once in a while? However, we never really learned much about her. She was given to the reader as a silly, thoughtless and self-concerned girl who didn't warrant much consideration by the original Austen. What Odiwe has given us, in this go round, is a girl like any other. She is young, naïve, trusting and foolish. She doesn’t understand consequence at all. At the end of the book the reader is left with a woman, a woman who knows her own heart and goals.

This book started slow. The first thirty pages were torture but once past the introductory pages it picked up pace. The reader travels all over England with Lydia as she straightens out her life and tries to free herself from Wickham. Wickham is everything he is in Pride and Prejudice and a really delicious character to hate.

It is with great reluctance that I pass this book on to a friend. Lydia Bennet’s Story is a book that I would love to be able to revisit whenever I needed a fun book on a rainy afternoon.

Happy Reading!

A Love Triangle!

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.

Friday, December 11th, 1801

Aunt Philips was very pleased to see us this afternoon but she said it was a pity we had not called before noon, as we had just missed Colonel Forster, Miss Fitzalan, Miss Cavendish, Mr Wickham and Captain Carter. When we expressed our great disappointment at not seeing them, she said that they had not stayed long, as the ladies had some shopping to do in town and the gentlemen had their business to attend.

“They came in, said, ‘how d’ye do’ and sat only for five minutes, but were full of you and Kitty.”

“What did Captain Carter and Mr Wickham have to say?” I asked as soon as I could interrupt.

“They are very pleasant and attentive young men and always put one at one’s ease,” enthused my aunt who clearly had taken no notice of my question. “Captain Carter tells the most amusing tales and is such a tease, is he not?”

“Did he mention that he had seen us lately? Did he remark on how well we were looking?” I demanded.

“As I recall, you did crop up in conversation but only indirectly. Mr Wickham remarked that he had heard that you have a fine voice, Lydia, and that he is longing to hear you sing. Captain Carter merely replied that he knew not of any of your accomplishments, but had heard Miss Cavendish’s voice as he had passed by Mrs Nicolson’s window whilst walking through town. Now what do you think of this? He added that she has the voice of an angel and that he has scarce ever witnessed such a heavenly sound in all his born days, to which Miss Cavendish protested that he flattered her too much. Indeed, she hinted that Captain Carter was making quite a habit of flattering her excessively and on too many occasions. What think you of that, Lydia? Is there some love in this case? Do you think the Captain has designs on Miss Fitzalan?”

“Oh no, aunt,” I implored, “I do not think there is any attraction between the Captain and Diana. Indeed, it is very clear that he has no inclination in that direction, would you not agree, Kitty?”

“I could not say,” smirked Kitty with a teasing look in my direction. “Besides, Mr Wickham is my choice, he is far more gentleman-like; you cannot really prefer Captain Carter to Mr Wickham, can you, Lydia?”

“It is not a case of preferring one gentlemen over the other,” I replied, “they both have their merits, both are good looking, witty and charming, but Captain Carter has been particularly attentive lately and I must own I cannot help liking a man who says pretty things to me. I admit I like to be flattered, to be told I am beauty, that I dance like a goddess and such-like and so for the present the Captain has my preference, but should Mr Wickham ever choose to pay court, I am sure I would not be indifferent to him either!”

“Lydia!” shouted Kitty and Aunt Phillips in unison.

“You are a wicked girl but you amuse me greatly. What your mother would say on the matter I do not know!” exclaimed my aunt.

“Well, on that score I do know, for mama has told me that as a young girl she was not only in love with Colonel Miller but a handsome Captain in the militia too and if our father had never come to pay court, she would probably still be dithering between them,” I retorted.

Kitty and I took our leave shortly after this revelation, which had produced more hilarity, although my aunt declared that she had known something of the case at the time and had suspected a love triangle of sorts. We left in high spirits, at the idea of papa being the suitor to charge in and sweep our mother off her feet!

Lydia Bennet

Friday, December 5, 2008

Bonnets, Officers, (or lack of them) and Christmas Presents!

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.

Friday, December 4th, 1801

Kitty and I walked into Meryton this morning to visit Aunt Philips and take a look in the milliner's window. I have fallen in love with a white chip bonnet adorned with pale blush roses. If only I had next week’s pocket allowance, it would be well within my budget and I could also have some new gloves at four shillings a pair - but then I should have nothing left for Christmas gifts. I must make purchases of Steele’s Lavender water for Jane and Lizzy, a hair comb for Kitty that she has been sighing over for the past month and, a dull book for Mary.

Aunt Philips was very well but we saw nothing of the officers and even though Kitty and I lingered as long as we could in the bitter cold outside the milliner’s window in the hope of spying one; none came. As a consequence, my heartfelt longings for a beau in a redcoat were quickly shifted to the constant delight that the sight of a new bonnet can give.

Since scribing my festive thoughts on presents, I have been considering my gift list and find it necessary to review some of my ideas. I am not sure that either Jane or Lizzy will be expecting so generous a present as a bottle of scent and indeed it may be possible to save on some of my allowance if I produce some of my gifts by hand. In any case, surely no one will expect me to lay out for expensive tokens, as after all, I am the baby of the family (and have the least amount of pocket money). I will embroider handkerchiefs and net purses for my sisters instead. I will make mama a shawl and have a drawing framed for papa’s study, so he can always be thinking of me when he is about his books. They will be touched by the tenderness of sentiment in the selection of such tasteful and personal Christmas boxes.

I will start on the morrow and devote myself entirely to their craft. And then perhaps if I drop a hint to my mother, and borrow just a little against next week’s allowance, the bonnet will be mine!

Lydia Bennet

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Love is in the air for Mr Collins!

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.
Saturday, November 28th, 1801

Horror of horrors! On taking his leave of us all last night, my cousin declared that he wished to accept my mother’s invitation to return to Longbourn as soon as possible, despite papa’s entreaties to consider Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s wishes. Mama has asserted that this must mean he is to pay his addresses to Kitty, Mary or I, but after petitioning her privately, has acknowledged that Mary might be prevailed upon to accept him. Kitty and I were euphoric with relief when Mary decided that he might yet be a suitable marriage candidate, especially if he can but improve himself with more reading!

Sunday, November 29th, 1801

What I have to report is of such astonishment that to write it down in words seems incredulous and indeed, we were ALL confounded by the news Sir William Lucas had to deliver after breakfast this morning. I am not afraid to say that as a result of the shock of receiving such an amazing statement, I instantly admonished him for telling stories. What he had come to report was that his daughter Charlotte had become engaged to Mr Collins! My mother declared outright that he must be mistaken and I was just enlightening him of our cousin’s wish to marry Lizzy, when the latter spoke up confirming his proclamation by extending her warmest congratulations to Sir William. It appears that Lizzy had prior knowledge of this betrothal and had been contemplating the advantages of delaying the reporting of such a bulletin, mindful of my mother’s wrath.

If we were at all anxious about mama’s health before this information, there now seems great concern, for although she seemed to take the news quietly in Sir William’s presence, on his departure there issued forth a torrent of abuse, imprecation and vilification against him, his entire family and all his ancestors, interspersed with hysteric attacks and fainting fits such as have never been witnessed by myself, my father or my sisters ever before. My mother is convinced that Mr Collins has been completely taken in, that he and Charlotte are ill-matched and has convinced herself that the engagement may yet be broken off. Elizabeth has born the brunt of her vitriol, mama asserting that her independence of character, which has been a great handicap since Lizzy learned to speak her first word, will ensure she is an old maid and see her sisters cast out by the Lucases into the street. I do not envy Charlotte her husband but Kitty and I are looking forward to seeing the expression on Isabella’s face when we tell her the news!

Lydia Bennet

Illustrations: Heart by Jane Odiwe, Mr Collins and Charlotte by H.M. Brock

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

We met Mr Wickham as we entered the town!

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.

Lord! what a laugh we have had today. The most extraordinary thing has happened. Cousin Collins has asked Lizzy to marry him, but she will not have him! Mama insisted and threatened to disown her if she did not accept him, but papa said he would not have anything to do with her if she did!
Thank goodness for Charlotte Lucas who arrived this morning, and has entertained our sulky cousin for the remainder of the day.

Thursday, November 26th, 1801

Everyone in ill humour today, mama is not even speaking to me, and no one dare utter Lizzy’s name within her hearing. My mother has taken to her room, complaining that she is far from well with a headache, a stomach disorder and a pain which pierces her heart, although Hill informed us that she was able to partake of coddled eggs, hot bread rolls and coffee to break her fast.

Mr Collins has hardly spoken two words together, which one could comprehend if his reserve were the direct result of any true suffering. His silences, although welcome, are too obviously the result of playing a part; indeed Drury Lane itself can scarce have witnessed such a performance! He has been most uncivil to Lizzy, leaving the room whenever she enters it, feigning deafness or talking over her, whenever she speaks. I cannot understand why the fatuous man is still here - I am sure if I had had my proposal of marriage rejected, I would have left at the earliest opportunity! It seems that he is determined to stay until Saturday, however injured he may feel.

We managed to escape cousin Collins and walked into Meryton to see if there was any news of Mr Wickham. We met him as we entered the town and he accompanied us to Aunt Philips’s house, with many expressions of regret at his having missed the ball. He drew me back as we approached the door and whispered that he had heard of my distress on losing my slipper at the ball and how he would dearly have loved to be of assistance in returning it to me, in the hope that he could have placed it himself upon my sweet foot! I declare I was quite taken aback and wondered from whom this intelligence had been gleaned, but I did not have any further opportunity to converse with him privately as Lizzy drew him in for the remainder of the afternoon. Even when I tried to catch his gaze, he appeared not to notice, so engrossed was he with my sister.

Mr Denny and Mr Lansdown soon arrived to pay their respects and discuss the highlights of the ball, regaling my aunt with tales of the evening’s diversions. I have not mentioned my unfortunate accident to a soul, as I would not wish anyone to think that Captain Carter had taken advantage of the situation and indeed had he not been there to revive me, I dread to think what may have befallen me, my head might have been cracked wide open, I may even have succumbed to an unconscious attack!
Mr Wickham and Mr Denny escorted us home to Longbourn and were introduced to our parents. Mama’s spirits rallied and she seemed very cheered by their easy manners, wit and humour. Bless our soldiers for resurrecting her sense of proportion!
Jane told us of the news that the Bingleys have departed for London. Mama lamented this fact, especially as she perceived how well Jane was getting along with Mr Bingley’s sisters, but has been pacified by the drafting of a dinner menu in anticipation of Mr Bingley’s return, to consist of two courses!

Friday, November 27th, 1801

Thankfully, Charlotte Lucas continues to distract our cousin and he appears almost cheerful in her company, for which we all thank the Lord. Lizzy has stopped hiding from mama who now seems able to bear her company without the aid of salts or Hill’s tonic remedy.

We dined with the Lucas family, but what a dull affair it turned out to be - no officers were present and the whole company seemed at odds. Mother did her best to field questions from the hostess as to Bingley’s whereabouts and the duration of his absence, but struggled prodigiously with her composure when Lady Lucas turned the subject around to that of Mr Collins’s proposal, saying it must be very perplexing for mama to have to consider the fact that Longbourn’s future mistress would not be her daughter but most likely a stranger.

Lydia Bennet

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Lydia 'falls' for Captain Carter and Lizzy dances with Mr Darcy at the Netherfield Ball!

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.

Wednesday, November 25th, 1801

I do not know where to start to record the momentous events of the past twenty four hours which are almost too numerous to mention.
We arrived and entered a scene from fairyland. There were so many people, half of Hertfordshire out in their finery, and it took an age to sail through the sea of personages to Mr Denny who was waving like a simpleton across the room. What he had to divulge on our greeting, however, shocked us all to the core. Mr Wickham was not to be in attendance and had apparently left for town on business! You may imagine that to receive this news was most provoking; Lizzy looked particularly crestfallen. Her mortification was further increased by the arrival of cousin Collins to take her hand for the first two dances, her pledge clearly forgotten by the expression on her countenance. As Denny and I joined the set, I could see my sister suffering the agony of being coupled with the only man in the room who has the rhythmic motion of a duck in distress with what must be two webbed feet to match! As if that was not enough, the next moment she was up and prancing with Mr Darcy of all people. Jane most happily had Bingley for her partner and they hardly left each other’s side for the entirety.

By the bye, I spied Isabella, Henry Forster and Diana just arrived and made haste to greet them and hear all their news. Mr Denny and Mr Chamberlayne joined our party and then Captain Carter arrived, looking so handsome, I blushed whenever he addressed me. I was very much in request and did not sit down for two hours together. Captain Carter was most attentive with all the ladies in our party, making sure we had all the refreshment we required. Dancing is thirsty work and a cup or two of rum punch makes one feel very light on one’s feet.

After supper (which was highly embarrassing on account of Mary’s prolonged piano playing, utterly impeding ready digestion of the excellent cold cuts), I made my escape and joined Isabella, Diana and the officers in the library where the card tables were set out and Cassino was the game of choice. In haste as I crossed the room, I left my slipper behind and as I leapt to retrieve it, Captain Carter anticipated me and we both landed, buffeted together in a heap on the floor. How the assembled party laughed and when Capt C. proceeded to steal my shoe and proposed a game of ‘Hunt the Slipper’ there was an uproar. The disrupted games were swiftly concluded as Captain Carter lobbed my slipper into the air where it was caught by Denny who ran off out of the room, with the entire card party in pursuit.

I stood up rather too quickly to follow my friends, the effects of the heat and punch causing me to stagger a little. I quite missed my footing, caught the end of the handsome Wilton carpet and fell headlong. I consider it most fortunate that Captain Carter was there to break my fall and catch me in his arms. He kindly insisted on holding me for several seconds in order for me to recover my breathing, but the proximity of Capt. C’s heart next to mine was most unsettling.

“Come now, I cannot have the most ravishing creature at the ball dying in my arms,” the Captain murmured in my ear. “Please allow me to escort you to the sofa where you may recline in comfort and compose yourself.” He simply lifted me into his strong arms and laid me down gently upon the settee before I had a chance to protest. “I trust there are no bones broken, Miss Lydia,” he said as he raised my hand, brushing my fingertips with his lips.

“I am sure there are none, Captain,” I managed to say at last, “indeed, your thoughtful concern seems to be aiding the healing process most effectively.”

“We must call back your friends. What would your mother think if she were to know you were unchaperoned at this moment?” Captain Carter removed his gloves and continued to feel his way up one arm and then down the other, reassuring me at every touch that he could find not a break nor fissure in the bones.

“Oh no, that is not necessary. I am sure she would be pleased that I was being looked after by such a kind gentleman,” I managed to whisper, reclining in raptures at the deft touch of his fingers.

“I will just feel the bones about your neck, my dear,” he insisted. “One cannot be too careful with a blow to the head.”

“Indeed, Captain Carter, I do feel a little faint,” I declared as his lips brushed my cheek.

We were forced apart by the noisy throng returning, my shoe held aloft on a satin cushion by Mr Evelyn. Everyone professed great concern when they saw me reclined on the sofa, with the Captain on his knees at my side but with my slipper restored to its proper place and Isabella’s smelling salts procured, I was soon revived.

Denny begged to dance with me again before I had a moment to thank Captain Carter for his chivalry, but as he was next engaged to dance with Diana, I was only able to smile at him as we went down the set. There were thirty couple still standing at midnight, although my sister Lizzy and her beau were not amongst the dancers. Despite her attempts to shake him off, Mr Collins did not leave her side and Lizzy found no route to escape and had to endure his merciless teasing.

We finally left Netherfield in the early hours, my mother full of self-congratulation on having a daughter on the brink of matrimony, and a promise from Bingley himself to wait on us all after he returns from London.

I acquainted Kitty with my amorous adventure - she is beside herself with envy!! My first grand ball and I am in love with Captain Carter, though I missed dear Wickham more than I can say. He had better take greater pains to attend next time if he wishes to dance with me!

Lydia Bennet

Monday, December 1, 2008

A miracle and shoe roses from Meryton!

Lydia Bennet's Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia's online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet's Story, begins.

Sunday, November 22nd, 1801

It is still raining!

The Boil is now the size of a cricket ball and despite steaming it over a Chinese bowl of boiling water with my head covered in mama’s best linens, it is showing no sign of shrinkage. I have considered the possibility of staying at home and not attending the ball, but the thought is unbearable. I decided to resurrect the fashion for patches and spent the day cutting out crescents and spots out of a piece of fabric I assumed was an ancient and redundant riding cloak, only to discover that it is papa’s mourning greatcoat. The patches are not a success, making me look like an old crone from a gothic novel with a peeling skin disease and papa has stopped my pocket allowance, saying that I shall be fifty before it will ever be resumed again!
However, 'tis not all gloom, I received a deliciously gossipy letter from Isabella this morning. She says Captain Carter is wild about me and that she is to wear white lace over satin to the ball!

Monday, November 23rd, 1801

Three momentous miracles have occurred as the result of much fervent praying. I vow never again to gripe, grumble or grouse about daily prayers and I will in future attend church twice on Sundays and endeavour to help the rector’s wife with schooling the little ones in the congregation, as I have often promised, but have heretofore managed to elude.
The first miracle is that the boil has gone, disappeared forever, thank heaven! The second marvel is that the shoe roses we ordered from Meryton arrived this morning, confections of white organza, to match my gown, which is the third and last and most wonderful miracle. My old gown has been made over with some muslin left over from Jane’s new gown and I dareswear anyone would think it a new one! It is soft and white with floral embroidery along the hem. I have new kid gloves and an Indian fan that belonged to mama. My hair will be swept up in curls and kept in place by white beads interlaced with leaves. Aunt Gardiner is very kind and has sent all my sisters silk flowers and decorations for their hair. Kitty complained when mama gave me the largest bunch of ribbon but she should have attended when the parcel arrived, instead of ignoring us all and persisting with Mrs Radcliffe’s horrid novel.
I have dressed my hair in rags with Rebecca’s help but how I will ever sleep tonight I do not know, for I am so excited I declare I shall be sick. Every time I try to lie down, a lump of hair and rag pierce my skull in such a way as to make me want to scream out loud and I am in agony. I do not think Rebecca could have inflicted a more barbaric torture on a young lady, if she had sat down and invented the guillotine itself and as I lie here with my head hanging off the bed, my heart bleeds with terror for those poor unfortunates who had the misfortune to lose theirs.
Mon Dieu! – I curse Kitty for her naturally curly locks!

Lydia Bennet

Illustrations: Lydia dressed for a ball, Jane Odiwe, Regency glove pot-pourri sachet by Trinita Marr