The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet

The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet by Kate Rorick and Rachel Kiley follows the Lizzie Bennet Diaries web series, or the novelization, The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet.

This is a minor-character spinoff of a modern-retelling spinoff, so far removed from actual P&P that Elizabeth appears in just a few scenes, and Darcy exists only when Lydia mentions he pulled some strings to get her a college acceptance. So I’d barely even call this a Pride And Prejudice story, but it is a really lovely YA novel.

I know Lydia is a hated character, and she manages to be obnoxiously self-centered in pretty much every line of P&P, but I’ve always felt a tiny shred of sympathy for her. Lifelong shame and poverty seems like a pretty harsh penalty for dating the wrong guy at 15, you know? Especially when he’s an experienced twentysomething and he literally sets out to seduce her with no qualms about ruining her. More blame on premeditated scammer Wickham, less blame on naive and annoying Lydia,  is what I’m saying.

When we left Lydia at the end of the Lizzie Bennett Diaries, she’d been publicly humiliated after Wickham released their sex tape. Darcy did damage control, because that’s what Darcy does. That’s kind of his thing. Now Lydia’s a community college student, hoping to transfer and major in psych at four-year college, as she deals with the fallout after her very public embarrassment.

This is a sweet coming-of-age story, less a redemption arc than the story of a teenage girl growing into herself. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed giddy Lydia and dull, responsible Mary as friendly foils in this novel. Not terribly Austen-ish, except for the character names and the sassy dialogue, but a really fun book.

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