L is for … Longbourn’s the place to hang out – apparently

I will set my cards on the table. I am a HUGE fan of Pride & Prejudice. Persuasion is my absolute favourite Jane Austen novel, but P&P comes in a close second. I’ve read it numerous times and can quote the famous lines if you give me half an excuse.

So, for fans like me, adding a new book to that universe is quite a responsibility and something to be attempted at your own risk.

I’m not dreadfully precious, I will point that out. I don’t hold Pride & Prejudice to be entirely sacrosanct and untouchable. I loved the TV adaptation of PD James’ Death Comes to Pemberley (but I didn’t love it enough to seek out the book; I think a large part of the attraction was Matthew Rhys, to be entirely honest). I also read and loved Longbourn – the P&P story told from the point of view of the servants “below stairs”. I didn’t much like the movie Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (just a bit too silly), although it was entertaining enough.

Cover of Natasha Farrant's Lydia
Click to try it

So, that’s a trawl through my experience with P&P wannabees and it hasn’t really helped get my thoughts in order. Lydia: The Wild Girl of Pride and Prejudice was an easy enough read. I zipped through it in a day. It’s lacking the witty glory of Austen’s prose (but quite right, too – anyone attempting to ape that would be bold in the extreme), but it was a nice, well-written story. I enjoyed visiting regency Brighton, and the resolution of the love story (if that’s what it is) was different and satisfying.

But I didn’t love it enough to grab people by the hand and demand they read it. I think, overall, I the strongest feeling in my mind is what a shame you have to piggyback onto something famous in order to get people to read your book. I understand the pleasure of the familiar, but finding a new treasure is equally fabulous … isn’t it?

If you can’t get enough of Pride & Prejudice, give it a try. You might very well like it. I’m going to go and check out what else Natasha Farrant has written.

Lydia: The Wild Girl of Pride & Prejudice was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Romantic Novel of the Year. Find out more about the award and other shortlisted books on their website.

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