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

lydiaA 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 twins. Can Lydia find out what she really wants – and can she get it?

I thought this book was an interesting one, as (I feel like I’ve been saying this a lot recently!) it really wasn’t what I’d expected it to be. My personal perception of the character Lydia was very different to Natasha Farrant’s, so obviously my expectations of this book were different to what the book was actually like, but with hindsight it was probably better this way!

As I just mentioned, I hadn’t expected Lydia to be portrayed in the way that she was, but the personality that Natasha Farrant gave her left for so much more scope within the story. Lydia was still quite shallow and frivolous, but beneath that layer of her personality, she was also adventurous beyond the stereotypes of the era, and wild in a different sense to the one she was originally shown to be. She was also more perceptive than I had originally anticipated – for example, the Lydia in this book was aware of Wickham’s tendencies to try and charm young and wealthy ladies into marrying him in order to increase his social standing, whereas in the original Pride and Prejudice, my perception was that Lydia was too naïve to pick up on it. However, her romance with Wickham was proved somewhat irrelevant to the bulk of the book, as most of the plot revolved around a new character: Alaric.

Instead of sticking to the existing plot, Natasha Farrant branched out and created an entirely new world for Lydia to inhabit, beyond what Jane Austen had detailed. My initial expectation was that the story would revolve around Lydia and Wickham, and how they ended up deciding to elope, and while the book did cover this last point to an extent, there were some new characters introduced who stole Lydia’s focus, a French sister and brother, who Lydia became captivated by. There was also some interesting scenes which showed aspects of the time period that I’d never really thought about before, like the way they bathed in the ocean, and I found this really interesting.

Overall, the book wasn’t entirely faithful to the original, but it was definitely better this way, as it meant you got a lovely new story exploring some awesome characters. My personal view of Lydia meant I didn’t find the account of events as believable as some others might find them; however, it was definitely still worth the read, as it was fun and imaginative, and Natasha Farrant’s new spin on events definitely made me think. In particular, I would say this is perfect for younger readers who may not be keen on the idea of reading a classic, but could be enticed into having a go after reading this.

Lydia: The Wild Girl of Pride and Prejudice was published on the 1st of September 2016 by Chicken House Books. You can find out more on Goodreads here, or purchase a copy on Amazon here.

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