The Scandalous Confessions of Lydia Bennet, Witch seems to me to be suitable review matter for Halloween weekend! This is another book which caught my eye on Netgalley. So many of them seem just the same as each other. This is certainly different. And if you love Pride and Prejudice, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with Melinda Taub’s revelations.
The Scandalous Confessions of Lydia Bennet, Witch
A sparkling, witchy reimagining of Pride and Prejudice, told from the perspective of the troublesome and—according to her—much-maligned youngest Bennet sister, Lydia.
In this exuberant reimagining of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Lydia Bennet puts pen to paper to relate the real events and aftermath of the classic story from her own perspective. Some facts are well known: Mrs. Bennet suffers from her nerves; Mr. Bennet suffers from Mrs. Bennet, and all five daughters suffer from an estate that is entailed only to male heirs.
But Lydia also suffers from entirely different concerns: her best-loved sister Kitty is really a barn cat, and Wickham is every bit as wicked as the world believes him to be, but what else would you expect from a demon? And if you think Mr. Darcy was uptight about dancing etiquette, wait till you see how he reacts to witchcraft. Most of all, Lydia has yet to learn that when you’re a witch, promises have power . . .
Full of enchantment, intrigue, danger, and boundless magic, The Scandalous Confessions of Lydia Bennet, Witch, has all the irreverent wit, strength, and romance of Pride and Prejudice—while offering a highly unexpected redemption for the wildest Bennet sister. [goodreads]
This is an excellent blurb, which gives you the facts, and some hints, and leaves all the rest to the author. I was slightly worried that this would be a reimagining of P&P and I wouldn’t like it. What it turns out to be is Lydia’s full and frank confession of what really went on, some of it entirely unbeknown to her family. She even explains how she, the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, manages to appear as daughter number five. And all Kitty’s upsets and sniffing? Well, it’s a familiar enough tale.
I loved nearly all of it. The characterisations are perfect and wholly in keeping with the people I know and love from the book (and the BBC series). Lydia bounces about a bit, as you might expect, from the early events you know to later ones that have great consequences. She just gives some marvellous insights into the underlying motivations of characters you thought quite shallow. Not a bit of it!
We jump about the time line rather too much for my taste. Although it’s fun to wake up with her in Newcastle, waiting for her rake of a ‘husband’, we quickly change to past history. Then we come back to what could be a much stronger story of Miss Georgiana’s hexing. There are plenty of adventures to be had before we finally arrive back at that, and by the time we do, it seems to be polished off as a sort of afterthought. Ms Taub resorts to an epistolary approach to sorting out who did what for whom in the denouement. I found that quite confusing, since she has been using ‘you’ to address the reader at times, and now I had to work out who ‘you’ was in each letter. Attention drooped.
Other than that, this is a marvellous addition to the P&P world, with details at the back of evidence the author used for various parts of it.
It definitely sparkles and I thoroughly enjoyed it, save for the long-winded ending. Others may prefer it that way!