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Here’s a review for Willoughby’s Return from the Jane Austen Centre online magazine!

Set four years after the close of Sense and Sensibility, Willoughby’s Return starts off apace with a surprise visitor (no, not that one…) plans for a ball and mounting tension in the Brandon household. Marianne Brandon wonders if she has lost that part of herself that used to be so wildly impetuous and romantic. Has marriage and motherhood irrevocably changed the girl that her husband fell in love with… or was he ever in love with her at all? It is possible that he only married her because of her resemblance to his lost love? While their marriage seems outwardly happy, Colonel Brandon’s many extended visits to Eliza Williams and her daughter cause Marianne to wonder if he might find her, so very like her mother, to be his true heart’s home.

Meanwhile, at Barton Cottage, Margaret Dashwood prepares for her first grand ball—and an introduction to one on whom all her hopes of future happiness depend. Mrs. Jennings, ever a convenient source of gossip is full of the news of Mrs. Smith’s imminent demise and the return of the Willoughbys to claim Allenham as their own.

It is impossible that all should not meet, that relationships and passions once lost should not be rekindled, for Willoughby, too, has not been unaffected by the passing years. Realizing the mistakes of his youth, how he had valued the demands of his pocketbook above those of his heart. Is it too late for true love? Can the past be undone? Are future generations doomed to repeat his mistakes?

Fans of Sense and Sensibility will rejoice to find all their old familiar friends (Middletons, Steels, Ferrars and more) once more in “all the old familiar places”. From cozy scenes at Delaford and Barton Cottage to the hectic rush of a Season in London, author Jane Odiwe constructs a compelling tale of love in all its forms. Appealing to all ages, fans of happy endings will be delighted with how the author spins her story, weaving suspense and intrigue into a well-crafted tale that manages to answer the many questions left by the original.

True love does conquer all!

There’s lots of information on the Jane Austen Centre’s fabulous website for interested Janeites and they have a sale on at the moment in their gift shop! Becca, the shop manager has recently joined Twitter – you can follow her tweets by clicking here!

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Thank you to Barbara, Bella, and Mandi, who have taken the time to read and review Willoughby’s Return on their blogs. I’m looking forward to their interviews!


Everything Victorian and More…
In this new sequel to Sense and Sensibility, Ms. Odiwe has captured Jane Austen’s style with ease and eloquence, making this book a rare reading delight.

A Bibliophile’s Bookshelf

I openly admit that I’m a Pride and Prejudice fan. I know Pride and Prejudice inside out, and it is one of my most beloved books in my bookcase. Having said that I do have a soft spot for Jane Austen’s other novels, and in particular to the tale of Sense and Sensibility. Of all of Jane Austen’s heroine’s Elinor Dashwood is right up there alongside Eliza Bennet as one of my favorites.

Imagine my delight when I was asked to review an upcoming sequel to Sense and Sensibility called Willoughby’s Return by the lovely Jane Odiwe. A chance to dive back into the sweet story of Sense and Sensibility, with the impetuous Marianne and the strong, beautiful Elinor. Of course I had to say yes, and thus started a wonderful reading journey back into the world of the Dashwoods.

Willoughby’s Return sets the scene three years after Sense and Sensibility, and sees Marianne and Elinor happily married, with a few bumps in the road occurring when John Willoughby re-enters their lives.

Jane Odiwe writes with such eloquence and style that you can’t be helped for thinking that you are reading a Jane Austen book, but no it is definitely Jane Odiwe’s name on the cover!

In characters, plot and style, Willoughby’s Return is so beautifully written, that there is barely a seam between Sense and Sensibilty and Willoughby’s Return.

Despite the premise on the back-cover, this story centers more around Margaret Dashwood, as Marianne plays matchmaker and tries to set her up with the wealthy Henry Lawrence.

I loved the plot, and the way that Margaret is cast into the spotlight. For me, it kept the storyline fresh and interesting, and between Margaret and Marianne I was glued right through to the last pages.

This is Jane Odiwe’s second book, and it is clear that her skills as a writer are developing and becoming better and better. I thoroughly enjoyed Willoughby’s Return and will definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for her next novel.

Smexy Books

Willoughby’s Return is a delightful tale that swept me away for the time I was reading. For those who are looking to return to the Austen world with a very sweet story, I definitely recommend this book.

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There’s a review up on Everything Victorian and More… for Willoughby’s Return. I shall be interviewed by Barbara on November 3rd, so I hope to see you there!

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Book Review from the Jane Austen Society of North America – Kelly M. McDonald

Lydia Bennet’s Story was reviewed alongside Carrie Bebris’ novel, The Matters at Mansfield so I’ve extracted the relevant parts of the review which concern my book.

A good opening line can instantly vitalize a novel…Jane Odiwe sets her scene exceedingly well: “The true misfortune, which besets any young lady destined for fortune and favour, is to find that she has been born into an unsuitable family.” The two books share many characteristics: they grab the reader from the beginning; sustain momentum; and present work of talented authors. They likewise extract from Austen two bad boys everyone loves to hate,…and pivot their denouements upon ill-advised marriages, for ultimately these men stray from the fold.

Blending narrative with diary extracts, Jane Odiwe presents Lydia in all her giddy, officer-hungry glory. Odiwe’s subtle and pointed conveyance of a character’s manners or foibles in a few words is a delight – an example, Lydia’s asides concerning her mother. While burning an unwanted gift from a potential lover, Lydia comments, “It caught the attention of my mother who is generally not so observant but she has a suspicious nature.” Mrs Bennet is seen only through Lydia’s eyes, and this manner of characterization is Odiwe’s asset, especially when dealing with the popular Darcys and Bingleys. She paints the two couples very lightly, and thereby avoids upsetting the reverence they generate in many Austen fans. Lydia Bennet’s Story stands on its own, though the action and characters from P&P are utilized as needed, usually via a few deft references.

Lydia’s time in Brighton, among the uniforms she so adores, comprises the early section of the novel; by mid-point she and Wickham have been discovered by Darcy and are wed, though happiness is definitely not on the horizon. Wickham is already on the outlook for his next conquest, and the diary device allows revelations of Lydia’s more secret traits. Concerning her move to Newcastle, the new Mrs. Wickham discloses, “What I would really like is a house on the higher slopes of town whre the wealthy are settling, not timbered lodgings in the old part of town.” One spouse with a roving eye, the other with illusions of grandeur, spells trouble.

Readers who wish for a little sensuality in their Austen might welcome Lydia’s gentle trysts, though one might expect a bit more effort on Mr. Wickham’s part for this overt cad to have won his Lydia. His real competition comes from the Rev. Alexander Fitzalan, brother of Lydia’s friend Isabella. This pair undeniably forms the romantic center of the novel. Readers will stay up late in order to finish Lydia Bennet’s Story quickly and leave well pleased with a nice narrative.

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Monday, February 9, 2009
A review from India Jane’s Bookshelf

Book Review: Lydia Bennet’s Story
I’m kind of picky about Pride and Prejudice sequels or knock-offs. I loved Pamela Aidan’s Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman series. Other than that, most of them haven’t passed muster.

I’m not a huge Austen fan, but I am an Austen fan. I won’t likely notice if small details in the story don’t jibe, but there is a certain feeling that needs to be present in a successful Austen sequel. And, as a historically-educated book freak, I hate anachronisms and the endowing of regency-era characters with modern sentiments.

So I always pick these books up with a dubious spirit. In fact, one of the two I brought home this time probably won’t even be read after my daughter told me what she, Austen fan extraordinaire, had heard about it. But this book, Lydia Bennet’s Story by Jane Odiwe is delightful.

It lets us into the head of Lydia, who is every bit as silly and naughty as we thought, and we see the events from her point of view. Maybe it is just because I was a very silly teen, but I found the depiction of Lydia’s thoughts to be very realistic. I like the way the author didn’t try to infuse Lydia with some modern sentiments that led her to behave in an unconventional way. She let her be what she was written as: a rather willful, silly, romantic twit.

The story that is added–the what came after–also fits the events of P&P and is true to the characters. It gave me a satisfying sense that yes, this could be how Lydia’s story turns out. A most enjoyable read.

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Booklist

Odiwe emulates Austen’s famous wit, and manages to give Lydia a happily-ever-after ending worthy of any Regency romance heroine.

Foreword Magazine

Odiwe’s Lydia is as wild and reckless as readers of Austen’s novel could imagine. It is satisfying to see a plausible description of their relationship and lifestyle during their marriage, and the few glimpses readers are offered of Elizabeth, Darcy, and other original characters is faithful to the original.
Her new acquaintances are interesting and well developed, and Wickham is just as scandalous as ever. The ending will be a complete surprise.

Publisher’s Weekly

In this pleasant addition to the growing microgenre of Austen knockoffs, Odiwe pays nice homage to Austen’s stylings and endears the reader to the formerly secondary character, spoiled and impulsive Lydia Bennet… devotees will enjoy.

Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine

Jane Odiwe…gives us a heroine who is remarkably likeable…Lydia’s diary… a catalogue of frivolity – reveals a great sense of fun, an engaging lack of self-pity and an unerring eye for a good-looking chap …(Odiwe’s) technique of interspersing third person narrative with ‘diary extracts’ works particularly well as a way of counterpointing the disastrous events in Lydia’s life with her indomitable optimism and spirit.’

The Bath Chronicle.

A new twist in the tale for Austen’s Lydia. Jane Austen fans are in for a treat with Jane Odiwe’s sequel to Pride and Prejudice detailing Lydia Bennet’s story. Lydia, the thoughtless, conceited younger daughter who was only interested in flirting with officers and getting married before her sisters, has a chance to redeem herself in this novel. Creatively interweaving the narrative with extracts from Lydia’s diary, the reader begins to understand her actions and the motives of others. Throughout the book new friends are introduced and old ones are revisited against a vivid background of Regency England. In Bath, all the familiar haunts from Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are revisited; the Pump Room, the Upper Rooms, Queen Square and even Gravel Walk.
An unexpected twist brings about a happy ending for Lydia.

The Historical Novel Society, A Review for Lydia Bennet’s Story

The flirtatious Lydia Bennet, the youngest sister in Pride and Prejudice, is the heroine of this delightful Jane Austen sequel….The narrative is interspersed with Lydia’s diary entries, which are hilarious. Lydia matures quite a bit through the course of the novel and at the end is no longer the self-centred flirt she was at the beginning. The author makes this transition gradual and quite believable. The new characters are all very much in the spirit of Austen. I highly recommend this book to fans of Jane Austen or Regency romances.

Jane Austen Today

Lydia Bennet’s Story: A Sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice by Jane Odiwe is a fun and spirited romance. Simply know that when you purchase this novel, you will be transported to Brighton and London and all their Regency charms, and revisit some of your favorite Pride & Prejudice characters.

Jane Odiwe has a knack for describing the settings in her narrative, and writing in Lydia’s breathless tone in the journals. I enjoyed the book, much to my surprise. I only say this because I generally don’t read sequels. This one was entertaining, and had me turning the page to find out how the story ends.

Austenprose

…what Jane Austen introduced Jane Odiwe has cleverly expanded upon picking up the plot and style without missing a beat. Not only are we reminded that thoughtless, wild and outspoken Lydia is “the most determined flirt that ever made herself and her family ridiculous,” we begin to understand (but not always agree) with her reasoning’s and are swept up in the story like a new bonnet bought on impulse. Oh, to be but sixteen again without a care in the world except the latest fashions, local gossip, and which officer to dance with at the next Assembly are a delightful foundation for this excursion into Austenland that is both an amusement and a gentle morality story.

How it all turns out for the young lady from Longbourn in Hertfordshire, I will not say. However, I will only allude that the concluding adventure of the most determined flirt to ever make her family ridiculous, might make Jane Austen smile. Lydia Bennet’s Story Adventure is rollicking good fun with a surpise twist. Now that my hope of a novel about her has come to fruition, it can only be surpassed by Lydia Bennet the movie. Imagine what folly and fun would ensue. La!

The Jane Austen Centre web site

New friends are introduced and old ones are revisited with grace and charm. Romances are concocted, and hearts are won and lost against a vivid background of Regency England. Brighton is brought forth in all its gaudy splendor; a whole camp full of soldiers with balls and parties every night. Newcastle becomes a real place, far more than just a northern banishment; a seaside city full of full of merchants and warehouses, shops and gossips. In Bath, all the familiar haunts from Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are revisited; the Pump Room, the Upper Rooms, Queen’s Square and even the Gravel Walk, so often the trysting place of young couples.

With an unexpected plot twist the story of young Lydia rapidly comes to its satisfying conclusion. Readers will not be disappointed by the creative way the author brings justice to all. Lydia’s story is thoroughly entertaining. Despite the illicit nature of the Wickham’s relationship at first, readers will find the matter delicately handled with no reason to blush. Lydia’s voice is sweet and lively. Hers is not a nature to be weighed down by care or sorrow. A greater understanding of her nature and situation brings the reader a new compassion for her and an admiration for her overcoming spirit.

Lydia Bennet was, indeed, born to an extraordinary fate, and I, for one, am grateful to Ms. Odiwe for sharing her story.

Pemberley

I’ve just finished this book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Lydia was lively and fun, just as she is in Pride and Prejudice, and there were some appearances by the Darcys and the Bingleys as well as the rest of Lydia’s family.
Lydia’s story starts at Longbourn. It’s written as a novel, but every now and again the narrative is interspersed with Lydia’s journal entries, which provide interest and novelty. The tone is very bright and lively, just like Lydia, and her journal entries are very funny. I often laughed out loud, which is not something I do with many books.
It’s a funny book, written with a detailed knowledge of Pride and Prejudice, and I enjoyed it immensely.

Diary of an Eccentric

Odiwe’s writing style made me feel almost as though I were actually reading Austen. I had to remind myself it was a sequel several times.

I know not everyone enjoys Pride & Prejudice sequels; there are a lot of them out there. But if you like Jane Austen and her heroines, I recommend Lydia Bennet’s Story. Lydia Bennet is not a name that comes to mind when thinking about Austen’s heroines, but Odiwe’s story of Lydia’s adventures shows her strength and shows that there’s more to the flighty Bennet sister than meets the eye

Reader’s Respite

The term “sequel,” I am happy to report, has no application whatsoever to Jane Odiwe’s delightful novel, Lydia Bennet’s Story.

By the end of the story, Lydia’s actions were quite forgivable in my eyes. She made mistakes many of us can sympathize with, having made many of them ourselves, albeit in a different century. Over-weening pride – an allusion to the novel from which she springs – only compounds her misjudgments.

… the novel is lighthearted enough for enjoyable read and I was quite pleased to discover that it may be considered a stand-alone story, meaning that one need not be an Austen aficionado nor even to have read Pride and Prejudice in order to enjoy this book. If, however, you are a serious Austen fan and are loath to try reading one of the many “sequels,” you can safely set aside that fear in this instance and sit down with a very enjoyable tale. Happy reading!

Austenblog

Jane Odiwe has given Lydia Bennet a plausible backstory that, if it doesn’t redeem her, at least gives her the benefit of the doubt; and a happier ending than one would expect, and happier than the cynical Janeite might think she probably deserves.
…absorbing and well-written, sexy without being explicit, and like the best of such alternative-viewpoint Austen paraliterature, we get a new, thoughtful, and sympathetic perspective on a well-known, well-loved classic.

Savvy, Verse and Wit

Lydia Bennet’s Story does not miss a beat, Odiwe has a strong command of Austen’s language, style, and characters, but she puts her own flare on the wild maven that is Lydia.
Readers of Jane Austen and Austen enthusiasts will enjoy this novel, but even those readers looking for a fast-paced “romance” will enjoy Lydia Bennet’s Story.

The Reviewer

I loved this book. I fully expected to hate this book. I expected to finish it and thank my lucky stars that I only had one Austen related book on my desk. I was sad when this book ended.

ExLibris

A Wonderful Austen Sequel

I enjoyed Lydia Bennet’s Story immensely. It was a fun story with everything I love about good Regency fiction – good writing, plenty of period descriptions and background information that lend authenticity, and romance that is exciting but not over the top. Odiwe did an excellent job of staying true to Austen’s style while creating new characters and plots to make the story fresh and interesting. She also gave me a new appreciation for the character of Lydia. In an age of numerous Austen sequels, this one is definitely worth reading.

Diary of an Eccentric

I recommend Lydia Bennet’s Story. Lydia Bennet is not a name that comes to mind when thinking about Austen’s heroines, but Odiwe’s story of Lydia’s adventures shows her strength and shows that there’s more to the flighty Bennet sister than meets the eye.

Book Zombie

Lydia Bennet’s Story is not only a terrific story but also a wonderful example of Jane Odiwe’s talent at character development. With just a bit of background she has transformed Lydia into a character worthy of her own novel. I believe this is a fantastic Austen sequel, because it changes nothing of the original Austen creations, instead it digs deeper and adds more personality to a secondary character creating a story line that veers in another direction.

Pictures and Conversations

…like Austen’s stories, the plot always takes a backseat to tone and wit. Lydia Bennet’s Story is no different. While some of the comments are more ribald than dear Jane would have penned, Odiwe really captures the playful social commentary that Austen loved to present.

Library Queue

Lydia Bennet’s Story is a fun Regency period read. It was a little naughty for me in some parts, complete with heaving bosoms, but overall I found it enjoyable and true to the Austen spirit.

Once upon a Romance.

Lydia Bennet’s Story gives great insight into Lydia’s character and spins an entertaining tale of Lydia’s life. Lydia Bennet’s Story is an entertaining story, which shows Lydia in a sympathetic light. Ms. Odiwe does something, that I thought nearly impossible–redeem Lydia Bennet.

Reading Romance books

…entertaining to read. Lydia learned from her folly and matured somewhat, though not changing in essentials. I was happy to see that things ended ideally for her.

Book Blogger’s Diary

The author nicely makes use of existing material on Lydia Bennet to incorporate, and later expand on, in her own style to craft a story that’s overall fun and makes for light, entertaining reading.

Random Jottings

Jane Odiwe has caught Lydia’s gushing, breathless manner beautifully in those parts of the book which are purporting to be her diary.

Jane Austen in Vermont

And how rich that Austen’s flighty Lydia becomes Odiwe’s ‘fish out of water’ in the very first sentence of the first narrative chapter: ‘The true misfortune, which besets any young lady who believes herself destined for fortune and favour, is to find that she has been born into an unsuitable family.’ A stronger opening has seldom been set down on paper. Lydia’s self-contention of being a child snatched from noble parents at birth nicely sets up the story to come, positioning the reader firmly on Lydia’s side.

Amazon

From the first chapter to the very last page, paragraph,even sentence….I was enthralled. The conversations, descriptions of characters, clothes, scenes… all are brought to life so well that I got completely wrapped up in this new world.

I loved this book from its first page – Ms Odiwe’s writing is so descriptive – it sends you back to the Regency World in all its sensuous detail.

I only got this book at Christmas and read it within two days as I could not put it down!

I really enjoyed reading `Lydia Bennet!’ Jane Odiwe has beautifully captured Lydia’s giddiness and zest for life in this sparkling Regency romp. Fans of the period can rest assured Jane has done her research carefully. There are some nice touches of humour, and watch out for the surprise `twist’ – I nearly jumped out of my chair!

What a delightfiul story. Full of Regency detail and Jane Austen style.

The “piece de resistance” is the twist to the plot at the end which readers should keep to themselves!

I’d recommend this book for people who enjoy Jane Austen’s novels and especially for those who like the Masterpiece Theater adaptations of said novels.

Excellent book. Took it on holiday for the duration. Lasted one day. Could not put it down.

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Pictures and Conversations Blogspot

Read This! “Lydia Bennet’s Story” by Jane Odiwe
I’m an die hard Jane Austen fan, her unfailing devotion to a love-conquers-all ideal dovetails with my inner romantic perfectly. But above all, she was a brilliant writer, filling her novels with sparkling dialogue and great wit. The characters may not always been totally realistic (Fanny in Mansfield Park gets this accusation lobbed at her quite frequently) but there is much heart and spunk behind the heroines.

I wasn’t sure what I would make of another author taking a stab at these characters, continuing the stories of my favorite of the Austen novels, Pride And Prejudice. But I’m always game to try new books, and if Lydia Bennett was ruined in Jane Odiwe’s story I would not be that distressed. After all, even her father finds her to be one of the silliest girls in the land.

Lydia Bennet’s Story starts while Lizzie is visiting her cousin Mr. Collins and his wife. Lydia flirts with the dashing Mr. Wickham, as well as any other redcoat that will ask her to dance. When she finally makes it to Brighton, she finds Mr. Wickham continues to tickle her fancy, but she is quite put off by his interest in other ladies. When she convinces herself that she loves him, and he loves her, the elopement plans fall quickly into place. About halfway through out the novel Odiwe begins to continue the story past what we know from Austen’s narrative.

Lydia, while still quite silly, cannot help but notice her new husband is not really as perfect as she had led herself to believe. She continues to flirt harmlessly, but her spouse goes beyond flirtations, as well as gambling and drinking. Mrs. Wickham invites herself to her sister Jane’s new home, while Mr. Wickham takes himself to Bath. While reconnecting to her old friends, she finds herself at odds with the brother of one. Scandal strikes, and Lydia learns about real emotional connections.

The ending is pretty easy to guess once you get into the second half of the novel, but like Austen’s stories, the plot always takes a backseat to tone and wit. Lydia Bennet’s Story is no different. While some of the comments are more ribald than dear Jane would have penned, Odiwe really captures the playful social commentary that Austen loved to present. I was quite pleased with this novel, it’s light and fluffy but with a lot of heart.

C. PAUL KELLER

Libraryqueue blogspot by Tricia

She really is the silliest girl in all England.

Thankfully, Odiwe doesn’t make her any less silly in this sequel, but you do understand why Lydia is the way she is and what motivates her rash decisions. This book is told in both journal and third person narratives, providing an interesting perspective on the events we know so well from Pride and Prejudice. The novel continues Lydia’s story after her marriage to George Wickham, which you’ll have to read if you want to see how it all turns out. Needless to say, it happens a lot as I imagined it would, except for the ending. Let’s just say, it was all tied up a little too “happily ever after” for me.

Lydia Bennet’s Story is a fun Regency period read. It was a little naughty for me in some parts, complete with heaving bosoms, but overall I found it enjoyable and true to the Austen spirit.

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