Like the Damon Suede book I just finished, when I finished finally reading The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet, I went to my local library to see if they had this. I didn’t necessarily want to read it, but the completionist in me was like there are only two books in the series so why not. So here I am almost two months later finally writing my response.
Let’s start with the bad: I honestly don’t think Austen would’ve wanted Lydia to be this likable or this redeemable. I get that Rorick and Kiley, and the writers of The Secret Diaries of Lizzie Bennet web series made creative choices, but Austen very rarely wrote redeemable characters unless they were the stars of her novels (i.e. Elizabeth and Darcy). Lydia’s comeuppance was to spend her life with Wickham basically exiled from her family. That doesn’t happen in The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet and this isn’t a bad thing as it definitely makes this a lot more readable, it’s just not the same to me.
Now on to what worked great!
Picking up where the original web series leaves off, we’re about to find out what happens to the infamous Lydia. We know she’s interested in doing some sort of psychological/psychiatric degree an that’s the goal of this novel, how Lydia gets there. There are of course set backs from both her own lack of drive to people trying to take advantage of her as a result of her internet infamy. Everyone knows about the sex tape, except for Mrs. Bennet and this plays a role later in the novel.
Where the novel really took off, however, was when Lydia goes to visit Jane in New York. It becomes, I feel, like its own entity at that point with only nods to the series and ultimately, this is what saved the novel for me. I found the characters to be interesting and engaging, even if I can’t remember their names at this point. It also shows Lydia is working really hard to find the balance between her well-known impetuousness and her newly found caution.
I think my favorite scene of the entire novel is when Lydia goes with a couple of strangers to a house party where they play a game. In essence the game is like a long-term charades, but you can speak. In this example they were told a Disney character and they have to act it out throughout the evening. At the end of the evening each person shares their characters deepest secret and the other people guess who they are. There was something very cathartic about this act for the reader AND for Lydia. I felt that Lydia left that party with a new-found inner-peace that she then applied to her life and her studies to achieve her goals.
Recommendation: Honestly, you could pass on this one. That being said if you enjoyed the web series or the book companion, this is a nice almost wrap-up to everything that happened in the series. I felt most of the doors were closed. You definitely don’t need to watch the Lydia web series (I didn’t), but maybe that would add to it?
Opening Line: “There’s one scene at the end of almost every made-for-TV movie.”
Closing Line: “What an adventure that‘ll be.” (Whited out to avoid spoilers, highlight to read.)