- File Size: 1026 KB
- Print Length: 288 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: White Soup Press (March 30, 2016)
- Publication Date: March 30, 2016
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01CTLTE6I
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #466,285 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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The Trouble to Check Her: A Pride and Prejudice Variation Kindle Edition
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Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Source: I was provided an ARC of this book from the author for a fair and honest review.
I have to start this review by commending Maria Grace for writing a story about Lydia Bennet that felt true to Lydia’s character while at the same time telling a story that even someone like myself could truly sit back and relish with delight. Typically, I have a hard time reading about Lydia Bennet in JAFF. She’s the spoiled, reckless sister who nearly ruined the happiness of everyone in her family, and like some other readers, I have difficulty mustering empathy for her character.
That was until Maria Grace’s book,”The Trouble to Check Her,” came along. Maria’s storytelling brilliantly demonstrates Lydia’s evolution from a selfish, thoughtless girl, into a more mature, yet vulnerable and likable young lady, who has come through her experiences at Mrs. Drummond’s school in a manner that feels realistic, as well as quite true to her character. Naturally, this doesn’t happen overnight, and that’s where the talents of Maria Graces’s writing really shine through in this story.
When Mr. and Mrs. Darcy become Lydia’s guardians and decide to check Lydia into Mrs. Drummond’s school after her attempt to elope with George Wickham, she is seething with anger and exhibits none of the remorse that one would prefer to witness in a young lady in her current situation. Yet, why should she be pleased as punch about their decision? She can’t bring all of her pretty dresses to wear, she has to share a room with a rather plump and “prudish” girl, and she has to do chores around Mrs. Drummond’s house that she never had to be part of at Longbourn. So where’s the fun for a girl like her?
Well, Lydia doesn’t really get to have her kind of fun and that’s where the story became really interesting to me. After being encouraged, or rather forced to join into the routines established at Mrs. Drummond’s school, Lydia slowly begins to experience the joys and rewards of these simple pleasures. Once she starts to develop relationships with some of her classmates, she comes to learn lessons that extend far beyond the walls of the schoolhouse. When the new music master comes to teach at the school, he recognizes a talent within Lydia that has been previously neglected. Being surrounded by people who see her outside of the Bennet family allows her to become better acquainted with who Lydia Bennet truly is and this turns out to be the greatest lesson of all for her!
Ms. Grace’s story really shines due to her ability to flesh out a cast of characters that were easy to relate to and who had their own imperfections and challenges to overcome throughout the story. As a group of ladies who find themselves in a place where they have been given one final chance to redeem themselves, there are plenty of opportunities for the ladies to move forward or backward in their “progress” and the difficulties that placed them at Mrs. Drummond’s may prove once again to be their undoing. While the ladies are curious to know about each other’s past indiscretions, they come to gain a sense of compassion for each other in a way that helps them forge special bonds with each other. It’s these imperfections and various struggles of her characters that only made me love them even more!
I also enjoyed the way Maria Grace connected Lydia’s story with the members of her own family. We were thankfully not provided with constant flashbacks of her first book to help readers follow the story since Ms. Grace skillfully included only subtle references to the first book in a way that didn’t bog down the pace of her story. The Darcys play a minor role in this story, yet they are significant to the life Lydia will lead when she does resume her life away from Mrs. Drummond’s school. I encourage any JAFF readers who may have resisted stories focused on Lydia Bennet to seriously consider placing this on their TBR list, as I am confident that they will find this story to be a thoughtful and hopeful journey of Lydia’s formative years.
I would suggest not skipping over book one. It is possible to read this as a stand-a-lone; there are enough hints at the back story to let the reader know what has gone on before. Having said that, if this were read first…you will definitely want to read book one in order to better understand the hints, flashbacks and reflections Lydia has regarding her parents, sisters and even Wickham.
Book one focused on Elizabeth, but it also laid the foundation on the character of Dr. and Mrs. Bennet and there is the thread that runs through both books. Based on that, it would be best to start with book one…Mistaking Her Character. This second book focuses completely on Lydia with references to the rest of the family and their dynamics. Mr. and Mrs. Darcy do not appear again until the end.
Our story opens with a recalcitrant Lydia being shipped off to Mrs. Drummond’s boarding school for girls who have lost their virtue. She is not best pleased with her situation. She is rude to everyone, and blames all for her ill treatment. It proceeds as you would think. There is the usual resistance to doing chores that she feels are beneath her. She rebels and sulks using tactics that normally worked at home only to discover they will not work at Mrs. Drummond’s. No one cares what she thinks or feels. She is there to improve.
As we progress through our story we see the dynamics within the society of the other students as they too have had to adjust to their surroundings. Many have come from families within the various levels of society. They have shamed their families and have been cast aside in order to improve their situation/attitude. For some, if they improve, they will be received back into their family and society. If they fail to improve, then they will be dead to their family and forced into a life of service.
There are friends to be made in spite of her placement. Annabelle and Juliana are delightful characters. I just loved them. There are also those Caroline Bingley type characters that just grate the nerves. Character types that never seem to learn their lesson no matter the opportunities placed before them. They will always crash and burn. It was amazing to watch these girls do just that…and made life miserable for those around them.
You know we have to proceed through the angst and the sullen attitude that Lydia is known for. However, as we journey with her we see the façade surrounding her began to crack and crumble. Soon we begin to see a glimpse of a Lydia we have never known before. We are also privy to the affects her family had on her development. I was touched by how she perceived her place within the Bennet family. I ached with her as she began to realize the lax parenting from her mother and father. It was touching to watch as she began to emerge from the depths of her character and to surface as a new creation, a new Lydia that we could like and love.
Mr. Amberson was the music teacher that unlocked the door to Lydia’s creativity. How many times has a teacher had the privilege of unlocking the potential within their students? How delightful that we got to see this happen with Lydia. I was so moved by how the author evoked such powerful descriptive words to show us what was truly within Lydia Bennet. OMG!!! I was blown away. It was so moving being swept away with her art, her music and as love blossomed within a heart so sensitive to those around her.
I was mesmerized by the writing at this point. It was so different from the first of the book I couldn’t believe it was the same author. I simply could not put it down. I finally had to go to bed and finished it the next morning. OMG!!! I cannot tell you how expressive and emotional the glimpse we were given as Lydia and James [Amberson] played the pianoforte together…it was sensual, sexual, emotion evoking and I was almost embarrassed as we were privy to such soul rendering feelings that words could not express. I was speechless and moved to tears, it was so beautiful. Well done Maria Grace.
Perhaps this writing is too close to Father’s Day and I am too emotional. I so resent Dr. Bennet after reading these books. It is not canon and Dr. Bennet is definitely not our gentle Mr. Bennet. This man is someone completely different and his behavior is reprehensible. I cannot like him. I will not like him and his actions put into motion all that has happened to his family. It is sad and heartbreaking as Lizzy and Lydia reconcile and discuss what has gone on within their family since Lydia left. I wanted to cry for them.
As we draw to the close of our story, Elizabeth and Lydia have an opportunity to discuss their sisters. Jane, in canon, was always portrayed as so perfect. Grace pulls back the outer layer that surrounds Jane and reveals the true inner core of what motivates her. It is shocking and yet so revealing. I hurt for these sisters. I am humbled by what Grace has written and…[it must be the hormones]…I simply want to cry my eyes out for them. WOW!!! What a story and I almost missed it.