This post was a) supposed to be about Lydia Bennet’s Lizzie Bennet Diaries character progression, and b) supposed to go online on Tuesday. Nevertheless, things change, and this late post is now going to be a review of The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet by Kate Rorick and Rachel Kiley. My copy arrived earlier than expected, but I’ve had some long shifts at work, which ultimately means that I have had more time to think about this side character who became just as, if not more, compelling as her famous sister Elizabeth.
If you’ve neither seen The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, nor read The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet, stop reading now. There are spoilers ahead, and the LBD Lydia has a different scandal than P&P Lydia. I’m writing about a sequel, so it’s not my fault if you ignore this warning.
Hopefully, if you’re reading this, you already know what happened to Lydia in LBD. After a fight with Lizzie, she ran off to Vegas where she began a relationship with George, Lizzie’s ex. He was emotionally abusive and pretty successfully cut her off from her family. He convinced her to make a sex tape with him, and then he secretly tried to use it to make money off her Youtube fame. Darcy bought the porn company to prevent its release, Lizzie and Lydia reconciled, and there was a happy ending.
The Epic Adventures… is Lydia’s happy ending. Going in, I had expected her to get Kitty Bennet’s book ending: maturity and thoughtfulness, and not too much else. That’s all I thought it would be, since the canon alternative was a marriage to Wickham and occasional loans from Darcy.
This Lydia was realistic. The scars don’t immediately disappear. Books and movies like to pretend that it’s easy to heal from an abusive ex. “Oh, your ex made you believe that your family hated you? He ruined your reputation and betrayed your trust? Oh, you just need to find the right guy and he’ll make it all better.” Real life isn’t like that. Healing in real life takes time and counselors and love. Not just a hot guy.
Lydia was a pretty flat character in Pride and Prejudice. She was the little sister who liked to flirt and party, until she ran off with a guy who used her to extort money out of a previous victim’s brother. Then she boasted to her family about how great she was at finding hot husbands. There was no character growth whatsoever.
LBD’s Lydia was self-aware and dated the bad guy to get back at her sister. That backfired in a very big way, and she spent all of this book learning about herself. What do you do when you’re internet famous and literally everyone in your small town has watched your darkest moments? When you’re the little sister who is trying to heal, what do you do when your two older sisters, your closest friends, move away and move on with their lives? What about when you mess up again?
It would be easy to give Lydia her own Mr. Darcy who would fix all her problems and give her the confidence she needs after dating Wickham. It would be easy, but I don’t think it would honor the character or all the real people who identified with her heartache in the midst of her abusive relationship and scandal. Thankfully, that’s not the direction that Kate and Rachel took Lydia.
Ultimately, The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet is about a girl who’s been through incredible heartache and betrayal learning to love herself again. There are indeed guys in the book, as well as backstabbing frenemies, and they play a part in her character growth, but they’re not the focus. This isn’t a romance book, unless you call “falling in love with oneself” a romance.
The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet is not a romance, but it’s a love story, and it’s definitely worth reading if you want the character to finally get a happy ending.