The Bad Miss Bennet

Elizabeth Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Royal Reviews, The Nineteenth Century Leave a Comment

Title: The Bad Miss Bennet: A Novel

Author: Jean Burnett

Publisher: Pegasus Books

Copyright: October 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-1605985053


Format: Hardcover, 315 Pages

Genres: Historical Fiction, Pastiche, Regency Romance


Picking up where Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice left off, The Bad Miss Bennet takes readers on a wild Regency romp with Lydia Wickham, née Bennet, who finds herself in dire need of a new husband.

Lydia was never the most upstanding of the Bennet sisters, but who ever said that moral rectitude was fun? Mr Wickham turned out to be a disappointing husband in many aspects, the most notable of which being his early demise on the battlefields of Waterloo. And so Lydia Wickham, née Bennet, not yet twenty and full of enterprising spirit, is in urgent need of a wealthy replacement. A lesser woman, without Lydia’s natural ability to flirt uproariously on the dance floor and cheat seamlessly at the card table, would swoon in the wake of a dashing highwayman, a corrupt banker, and even an amorous Prince Regent. But on the hunt for a marriage that will make her rich, there’s nothing that Lydia won’t turn her hand to. While Mrs Wickham rattles around the continent from Paris to Venice and to the home of the disgraced Princess of Wales in Italy, you, dear reader, will be greatly diverted.


What is a poor widow to do when no one else realizes her magnanimous dreams? Lydia Wickham lives at Pemberly with Elizabeth, her older sister, and her stick-in-the-mud brother-in-law, Mr. Darcy. She dreams of exciting diversions on the Continent and the endless adventures that await. Now that she has lost Mr. Wickham, her late husband, she aspires to marry a wealthy man. This in turn will furnish her with enough money and then she will no longer be a poor widow.

When she is invited to London by Captain Miles Carruthers and his wife, Selena, she jumps at the chance to escape the dull respectability of Pemberly. It is when she is living and traveling with her friends that she experiences the most outlandish adventures. She comes across all manner of strange people on her journey, including a highwayman, a handsome nobleman, and even the Prince Regent. Will Lydia ever make it to Paris, the place of her dreams? Will she meet a wealthy suitor to sweep her off her feet? Time will only tell.

The Bad Miss Bennet is a quirky and fun regency frolic. We have the chance to step inside the madness that is Lydia’s mind. So, I found the idea of a story being told from her viewpoint to be a compelling one.

The strongest element of this book were the characters who I found to be well-written and memorable. In Lydia Wickham, we have a birdbrained heroine who seemingly lives in a world of her own. She is written in a manner similar to Jane Austen’s original creation. It seems that Lydia will go to any length in order to find some fun diversion. Let propriety be damned! So, while author Jean Burnett definitely created a compelling Lydia, there are moments where the characterization falls flat. While Lydia’s personality comes across as strong and vibrant, in contrast her sister Elizabeth is dull and unlike the witty character from the original novel.

Ms. Burnett’s knowledge of the Regency era was another impressive aspect of the story. It is apparent that she must have done a great deal of research on that particular era and it shined through in her writing. Needless to say, I learned a lot. I was entranced as Lydia was talking about the many diversions in Bourbon Restoration Paris and Venice. This goes hand-in-hand with the author’s witty dialogue and the rich descriptions of the settings on Lydia’s journeys.

In the book, there were certain events that took place that I found to be somewhat unbelievable. It took me a bit out of the story. In addition, there were certain instances in the plot where it seemed like things were spiraling out of control. For this reason, I give this book three Stars.

Overall, this was a fun book that quickly drew me into the story but it wasn’t without its issues. I would definitely read Ms. Burnett’s writings in the future!


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