Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
(Note: Potential readers should be made aware that this is the second book in Maria Grace’s The Queen of Rosings Park series. And while it is a stand alone novel, it is better to read this series in order because as fans of Maria Grace may already know, she has a penchant for altering situations and personalities!) 😉
So yeah…I was so eager to read this book that I didn’t realize it was the second book of a series! oops! 😉 (Oh well, wouldn’t be the first time this has happened!) While I had some questions about what happened in book 1, what I did know and understand quickly was that Lydia’s attempted elopement with Wickham was unsuccessful, Mr. Bennet has disowned Lydia (and apparently has a harsh and hurtful nature!), and the newly married Darcys thought it was in Lydia’s best interest for her to attend a boarding school for young women who have lost their virtue.
As you can imagine, Lydia is not at all thrilled with this decision. She feels hurt, alone, and unloved. Mrs. Drummond’s school horrifies her – all lessons and charitable work, no fun, frivolity, or flirting. However, when Lydia stops dwelling on her own complaints of ill-use and learns more about those around her, a new awareness and understanding develops within her. She learns that her options for her future are severely limited – most girls at the school hope for an arranged marriage or position as a governess, companion, or maid. Even though the stain on her reputation has cost her better opportunities and prospects, Lydia is determined to improve, despite her uncertain and bleak future.
One area Lydia has found great solace is her art – both with drawing and playing the piano. Lydia learns a lot about herself at Mrs. Drummond’s school. She learns that she isn’t stupid and empty-headed, that she has natural artistic abilities, and that when she can’t find the correct words she can express her more complex emotions with a pencil or piano keys. Mr. Amberson, the new music master, recognizes Lydia’s talents and helps her develop them. Which leads to something of a different nature developing within Lydia’s heart…
Oh la! Do you find Lydia infuriating, immature, and overly indulged? Don’t worry, she doesn’t remain this way for long. Maria Grace’s Lydia has some depth and hidden qualities to her. I really liked how Ms. Grace illustrated a gradual and plausible improvement of Lydia’s character. Even with her changed perceptions there would be a moment or two where her selfishness or desire to complain would flair up, and I found that to be very believable. In addition, I also enjoyed how Ms. Grace portrayed Lydia as having some insecurities and a lack of confidence in her abilities. Knowing how she was treated by her sisters and parents, this is also very believable.
Aside from seeing Lydia improve upon acquaintance, the other aspect of the story I loved was this new world and set of characters introduced my Maria Grace. Mrs. Drummond, the teachers of her school, the other students – all were interesting, memorable, and well-drawn. I especially loved Miss Fitzgilbert and Mr. Ambrose and was so happy to see both these characters featured prominently. Moreover, my heart swelled to see Lydia learn to appreciate and value people that she didn’t before. The relationships she developed with friends, teachers, and family members were heartwarming and gratifying.
Even if you are not a fan of Lydia and believe she has no good qualities to speak of, I entreat you to give this story a try. Maria Grace takes one of the least favorable characters in Pride and Prejudice and creates a sympathetic and delightful tale filled with heart, friendship, and music.
Now to get my hands on Book 1 – Mistaking Her Character!
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