When Lizzy Bennet’s father gives her a diary, because she is his “only daughter with any brain”, he hopes that it will distract her from the boring idleness of her mother and sisters. But Lizzy thinks her life is much too dull and would rather use it to write a novel. But when Mr Bingley moves into a nearby mansion, real life suddenly becomes much more exciting, and there is plenty for Lizzy to write about.
200 years ago a book that will turn out to define English literature for millions of readers was published. That book is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and amidst all the celebratory publications, one can find the glorious little treasure that is Lizzy Bennet’s Diary, a gorgeous and original retelling of Austen’s most famous tale from the view point of her most famous creation, Elizabeth Bennet.
I have only been a fan of Marcia Williams’ books. They are incredibly clever, beautifully detailed, and always bring a new dimension and life to texts which young readers might often consider to be “old-fashioned” or dare I say even “boring”. With Lizzy Bennet’s Diary, she offers a brand new take on the classic tale, allowing young readers to step into Lizzy’s world. Because of its epistolary form, we get to share not only Lizzy’s thoughts but also witness snippets of every day life in Regency England, in the form of diary entries of course but also drawings, pressed flowers, ribbons (included via the medium of photographs), hand-written notes to fold out, invitations, dance cards, menus etc. It is interactive and entertaining and remains light-hearted throughout. Retold in this way, Pride and Prejudice becomes particularly accessible to younger readers and Lizzy Bennet’s Diary offers a perfect opportunity to introduce them to Jane Austen’s work and world.
As always with Walker Books, the book is beautifully produced.
Lizzy Bennet’s Diary will make a great gift for children (aged 10+ possibly to enjoy it fully) who like history and historical fiction and might be ready to be introduced to Jane Austen’s novels. But this will undoubtedly make a wonderful gift for adult fans of Pride and Prejudice as well.