Sara’s Review of Lady Bridget’s Diary by Maya Rodale
I absolutely loved this book! As my first introduction to Maya Rodale’s writing, I’m thrilled it was this novel, murr! If you love historical romance with a bit of humor and are a fan of Pride and Prejudice retellings with a twist then this is definitely a story you are going to want to check out.
This was a fun book that I found hard to put down. Once I started it and I realized that it was a retelling of Pride and Prejudice I was hooked. I had to find out how Rodale was going to spin the much loved classic story and make it her own. Adding humor with character mishaps, the diary element, and a set of characters who give the ton a run for their money certainly allowed for an enjoyed reading experience.
My heart went out to Bridget. Out of all of the Cavendish siblings she is the one who wanted to succeed in learning how to be a proper lady of the ton, even if it meant changing aspects of herself that made her herself. That feeling of wanting to belong to a group, but still ending up the outsider is one that most people can relate to at some point in their lives. Her struggles and her opinions on what was expected of her instantly drew me to her and made me sympathetic to her plight. Add in the fact that she is Lizzie Bennet to Colin’s Darcy and it was guaranteed that I would love her. Meanwhile Colin Wright, aka Lord Darcy or “Loooord Darcy” I should say, is every bit the Darcy that fans love in Pride and Prejudice. He has that polished, educated, dare I say stuffed shirt demeanor about him when the book starts which shifts to a boyish charm at the end. He was pure Darcy through and through, and I loved every bit of it. The scenes when these two are together just made me smirk because I both knew that they loathed each other yet secretly adored each other at the same time.
The other Cavendish siblings were likable, though I will admit to being a bit more partial to James and Claire than I was Amelia. I am curious to see if James is going to get his own book or if his story is going to be told through his sisters’ novels because there is something going on with him that we get hints at, but nothing is fully brought to light. He also doesn’t really fit into the Bennet family role that Rodale has his siblings and their aunt in. Amelia is Kitty, no question there though I will say that she’s not nearly as obnoxious, and Claire strikes me as being Jane. Aunt Josephine is Mrs. Bennet only without the full histrionics. She wants to see all of the Canvendish siblings wed, but she doesn’t have meltdowns when things do work out as expected, which I must say is a blessing. All of them may get on each others nerves, but there’s no question that they love each other dearly.
Lady Francesca, the antagonist, was not entirely what I was expecting her to be either. While she had that air about her of Caroline Bingley, she was much harsher a character and more manipulative than I would have liked. Certainly she is not the sort of person I would ever want to associate with. I also got the sense that she was a mixture of Caroline and Lady Catherine, though that could be just my impression and not actually the case. I suspect, though I could be wrong, that Francesca will play a part in the remaining novels in the series. She’s just too good a bully to sit out trying to bring about the downfall of the Cavendish siblings. I am looking forward to seeing if my thoughts on her are true.
So if I haven’t made it clear yet, this was a Pride and Prejudice story, but there were elements that kept it from being entirely a retelling. Throughout the book there are snippets of writing from the diary that Bridget keeps while in London. These writings express her opinions on Lord Darcy, the ton, the lessons she has to undergo to make her a proper lady, her thoughts on being a proper lady, etc. This element gives the story a bit of a Bridget Jones’s Diary feel, especially when Bridget bemoans the diet she has to undergo in order to fit the mold of a female member of the ton. Bridget isn’t afraid to express her feelings on everything that is going on in her life and I had to laugh over a few of the entries because they read like things I would say in my own diary if I had to keep one.
Likewise there is humor to the story. Some of it is tongue in cheek, like the verbal sparing matches and teasing between the Cavendish siblings, some of it is through Bridget’s actions, especially when her diary goes missing, and some is just the way Rodale chooses to tell her story. The scene that takes place on the lake is my favorite in the book and the fact that it involves both Bridget, Darcy, Amelia, and Bridget’s initial love interest Rupert made it all the better.
And speaking of Rupert, it would be remiss of me not to mention him in this review. You would think that he would be Mr. Wickham in the story, and while he does take on the role of a love interest for Bridget, he’s not at all like Wickham. He is a character with a secret, and it is his secret which adds some difference in this retelling. In fact at this point I would hesitate to use the term “retelling” because the plot does lend itself to being its own story when all is said and done, but it is really hard to overlook all the similarities to the classic tale. Suffice it to say, the addition of Rupert, who for some reason I kept wanting to read as Robert and I’m not sure why, to the story adds a twist that makes it all the more hazardous when Bridget’s diary goes missing.
So okay, in order to keep from sounding like a fan girl gone crazy, let me wrap this review up by saying that I highly recommend readers of historical romance give this book a try. If you weren’t sure which of Rodale’s books to start with, I’d say this is one that is perfect for first time readers of her stories because it offers something familiar to the reader yet offers up a fun twist with a group of siblings that you’ll want to follow through to the end. There’s no question that I will be continuing this series and I certainly plan on checking out Rodale’s other novels soon!