The Bad Miss Bennett Abroad by Jean Burnett
Whatever happened next to Lydia Bennet? A rollicking romp that follows the fortunes of Pride and Prejudice’s most badly-behaved Bennet sister Having controversially run off with George Wickham in Pride and Prejudice, Lydia is confronted with his untimely demise on the battlefield at Waterloo. Merry widow Lydia Wickham, née Bennet, is therefore in want of a rich husband. Failing to find one in Europe, she embarks on a voyage to Brazil accompanied by her trusty maid, Adelaide, to join the exiled Portuguese Court in Rio de Janeiro. She soon catches the eye of the heir, Dom Pedro. Staying out of trouble doesn’t come naturally to Lydia as she is captured by pirates, then makes a second disastrous marriage, and even finds ways to ruin the Darcys’ tranquil existence all over again. Will she return from the tropics with a cache of jewels? Could she ever succeed in her quest for ‘an agreeable husband with an estate and two matching footmen’, or must her taste for adventure lead her astray yet again?
‘I was not greatly amused.’
This appeared to be Lydia’s catchphrase and by the end of the novel it was also mine. Unfortunately I wasn’t that amused either, which was a shame because I really wanted to like this book.
It did have its moments: I liked the MC’s voice; I thought the settings were lovely and there were some great scene settings; and I did persevere to the end, which says something.
But – the prologue was not a prologue, it was a synopsis of the previous novel. I very nearly gave up at this point. It did a dismal job of drawing me in and was totally unnecessary; if a reader had read the first novel then there are far more subtle ways of reminding her of the contents of the first. And it goes on for a mind-numbing 5 or so pages.
But – there was a novel within the novel. This did absolutely nothing for the storyline, I felt, and I ended up skipping most of it.
But – Lydia wrote letters to her friend where she recaps what has just happened. The repetition seriously annoyed me.
But – the tense swaps became irritating and I started to look out for them.
And the most decisive ‘but’ of them all – Lydia was a fool. Constantly. Thank God for her maid, at least she seemed to have a modicum of sense. The woman lurched from one bad situation to another with little thought and by the end I wanted to slap her.
The novel is a very short one, 200 pages, and it could be shortened by another 50 or so if the inserted novel and all the repetition was removed. A great deal happens in those 150 pages and it could have been woven into a really good story. And because so much happened, the ending did not seem to be at a natural point. It simply stopped, I felt.
All in all, a disappointing read.
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