'A whirlwind of social drama': the class book review

Sarah Logan

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Title: Lydia: The Wild Girl of Pride & Prejudice​
Author: Natasha Farrant
Publisher: Chicken House Ltd

Teacher review

Lydia Bennet: naïve, silly victim of the ideology of sensibility? Or strong-willed female ahead of her time, frustrated by the confines of society and seeking to create her own path and make her own decisions, flaunting all conventions?

This novel challenges the original depiction of Lydia Bennet as the silly, vacuous youngest daughter of the Bennet family. Instead, it presents her as a girl ahead of her time, far more suited to 21st-century society than that of the restrictive late-18th or early-19th centuries.

As a devoted Austen fan, I was excited, yet at the same time apprehensive, about reading this novel. Many times I have been left, at best, cold and, at worst, furiously outraged by attempts to rework a well-loved classic.

A reading of the first chapter of Lydia was enough to dispel all my anxieties. Natasha Farrant has expertly contrived to produce a faithful retelling of Pride and Prejudice in a style that is both respectful of the original and simultaneously refreshingly modern. I was immediately transported back to Longbourn, surrounded by immediately recognisable characters but compelled to view them through fresh eyes.

Challenging my long and dearly held ideas, I became more fond of Lydia than I ever thought possible. Now I feel that, had I met her, I would have been cheering her along – probably offering her a copy of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and buying her a pair of blue stockings.

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Lydia presents as adventurous, determined and independently spirited. She is yearning for a freedom never to be hers, but does not allow this to quell her optimism for the future. The bittersweet conclusion left me saddened, frustrated and thankful to be living in the 21st century.

Despite the setting, this is a novel for any girl – or, indeed, boy – who believes that women are strong, capable and can achieve anything they desire. Nobody should be deterred from reading this. Those familiar with Pride and Prejudice will be neither offended nor disappointed, and those new to Austen will find the style and content, though sensitive to the original, both accessible and relevant to today.

I thoroughly believe that Austen herself would be laughing out loud at this and I predict a renewed interest in her wonderful novels, sparked by Natasha Farrant and her wonderful Lydia.

Sarah Logan is Year 2 teacher at The District CE Primary School, in Merseyside.

Pupil reviews

'May melt your heart'

When a red-coated garrison arrives in Meryton, Lydia Bennet’s life is turned upside-down. Beneath your typical country-girl personality lies the real Lydia Bennet. Boisterous, outgoing, maybe even crazy: she needs to find who she is and what she really wants. Before she realises this for herself, she falls head over heels for the dashing Wickham, a soldier whom she loves. But is he what he seems?

Her love lands her in Brighton, where her intentions were to follow her love and dreams. Twists and turns will be hidden along the way – will she reach her dreams in time?

In a fresh take on the fabulous Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Lydia finds herself in a whirlwind of social drama. Natasha Farrant conjures up a romantic atmosphere that may melt your heart. It is a must for all major bookworms out there!

Teagan McClymont-Dodd, Year 6

'Filled with wonder and revelation'

Lydia is an OUTSTANDING, astonishing book, filled with wonder and revelation. Written by Natasha Farrant, this is a book that will evoke an emotion of happiness but also misery at some points.

Lydia, the main character, experiences mixed emotions while her sister, Lizzy, needs to marry someone. The future of her family lies in Lizzy’s hands. What will she do? Will she marry him...?

With its amazing plot and twists, this novel is just right for teenage girls. Overall, I’d give this book 8 out of 10 stars.

Natalia Ferens, Year 6

'Can make you gasp with excitement'

Interesting, adventurous, exciting – Lydia is a great book to read. If you like rebellious, rule- breaking characters, then this is the book for you.

Lydia has an inspiring, thoughtful plot, filled with exploit and consideration. Written by Natasha Farrant, this is a book that will leave you begging for more. Lydia, the main character, moves to Brighton and starts a new life there. The themes in this book are friendship and adventure.

This book is for 12+. This is a very descriptive book that can make you gasp with excitement. I would give this book 9 out of 10, because it is a little hard to follow in the story.

Kellie Jo Mather, Year 6

If you or your class would like to write a review for TES, please contact Adi Bloom on adi.bloom@tesglobal.com

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Sarah Logan

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