Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Lydia Bennet at her worst and best

In Book 1, I began where Jane Austen ended her story which was mostly about Darcy & Eliza and the eldest sister Jane and her beloved, Charles Bingley. Only in the middle of the story, Lydia breaks all the rules to secure herself a better life.

From her own words this is how Eliza Bennet described Lydia:
"Lydia was Lydia still: untamed, unabashed; wild, noisy and fearless.”
—quote by Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

And that is what I had to begin with. 

In fact, to see Lydia through her own eyes rather than Eliza's, I had to move back to the Merritt Ball where Lydia takes the first of very many risks. Her ultimate objective? It's to save herself from the horrid and dismal life that will be her future if she cannot break away from certain poverty.

So she chooses Wickham. Yes, she truly loves him, but more important, he is much like her. He will help her take chances and risk. 

Lydia is not an evil child. She does seem to be selfish, but if she does not tend to herself and her future, who will? Certainly not her parents. 
When their father dies, they will be tossed from the house and land. It will all go to their horrid male cousin. And while effort is taken to settle Jane and Eliza, no one gives a fig about the younger three daughters. While Kitty and Mary may 'hope' for a miracle, Lydia will not sit by as she falls into dire poverty. She is smart, has some odd, but useful skills, and is brave enough to take risks. 

So she leaves a note that she and Wickham are headed to Gretna Green. Then they make a roundabout trip to London instead.

The first thing Lydia discovers is that she truly enjoys sex.

Nor does she bare shame in having sex before she is properly married. In fact, that very action forced her father and uncle (but mostly Darcy) to provide her with a decent dowry to compel Wickham to marry her.

This was her first step to freedom from poverty and misery and she chose it without reservation. Nor was she ashamed that she had the cleverness to do what none of the other sisters could do.

In Book One she achieves her objectives in shocking ways. Some readers were offended that she had sex for money. Others rallied behind Lydia, understanding that this was the only way she could acquire a wealthy duke to secure her future.

When she heads off to London with Wickham,
David, the Duke of Rochester, has sent sufficient money to her secret bank account to ensure she would continue to be a
Woman of Wealth.
He has also given her his finest house in the West End, plus a fabulous staff of servants. While he had to send her off to save his marriage, he still loves her with all his heart.

In Book Two: Lydia is 20 yrs old and is an independent woman of wealth. She achieved this goal because upon their arrival to the West End, I kill off Wickham. Honestly, I did not see how to improve Lydia as long as Wickham was part of her life. He was a terrible husband and human being. He had to go!

Of course, Lydia has always loved her flawed Wickham, so she is devastated by his death. Trying to help her, Darcy brings his sister, Georgiana, who is also in mourning, to come live with Lydia. 

Lydia and Georgiana are very different young ladies, but they hit it off from the first day. In fact, they manage to stay inside during the coldest winter ever recorded and have a fun time during their 'mourning' period.

A year later...

Lydia runs into David Thurgood, The Duke of Rochester when he comes to London. (In book one, Lydia had given him three sons, since his wife could not. But then she had to go, or David feared she would destroy his marriage.)

Lydia now learns David's wife has died trying to give him a fourth child. Naturally, she wants to marry him, only David has already contracted to marry another woman. The contract is settled and if he backs out, he will lose all his properties and money.

Things look bleak for Lydia...And she takes to her bed, only she soon learns that the woman David is contracted to marry intends to kill David's three sons before the week is out. 

That gets her out of bed and ready to battle.

It doesn't matter if you loved or hated Lydia in book one. I promise you, you will love the determined young woman she becomes in book 2.

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