Skip to main content

Lizzy Bennet's Diary by Marcia Williams, inspired by Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, 112 pp, RL: 4


I was familiar with the fantastic books of Marcia Williams when I discovered Lizzy Bennet's Diary and honestly would not have even opened this book if it had been written by almost anyone else. Curious about the origins of Lizzy Bennet's Diary, which is somewhat different from Williams's other books (see below) I turned immediately to the "Dear Reader" pages at the end of the book. There Williams shares that she was inspired to create Lizzy Bennet's Diary "after reading Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice for about the tenth time!" Knowing that creating this scrapbook diary was personal passion for Williams and that the quality in content and illustration and playfulness that she brings to her adaptations of other famous works as well as her original inspirations decided it for me. While I am still not entirely sure of the young audience for Lizzy Bennet's Diary, I do think that this is a book worth calling attention to. 


Twenty-something years ago when I was pregnant with my first child, I began reading and rereading the works of Jane Austen (and even toyed with the idea of naming my daughter Jane Austen.) A few years after that, the wave of movie and mini-series adaptations of Austen's works began rolling out, followed by the literary continuations, adaptations, updates and occasional desecrations of Austen's novels and characters. With enough distance between past readings (and viewings) I recently began listening to the audio versions of Austen's works and had just finished Pride and Prejudice when I picked up Lizzy Bennet's Diary, feeling prepared to read closely and critically, if needed.


While Williams stays true to Austen's story, her Lizzy as narrator has a girlish voice that is appropriate for young readers, especially when she is expressing the delights she finds in nature as well as literature and the tiresome aspects of some of the rituals of the day. Despite this, the theme of marriage remains central to the story. While the fates of Jane and Mr. Bingley, Charlotte and Mr. Collins, Lydia and Wickham and of course, Mr. Darcy drive the story, Williams includes details that enhance the diary format of the book and give a rich feel for the historical time period. Lizzy includes sketches and paintings of a "rain-drenched Song Thrush outside my window," a self-portrait and a portrait of Jane, as well as examples of the button-hole embroidery designs that she is adding to her Papa's waistcoat. There are also fabric samples, pressed flowers and leaves,  locks of hair and ribbons that are represented by photographs. Add to this the many letters and invitations that fold out from the pages of the diary and, adult or child, Austen fan or not, you will find yourself engrossed in Lizzy Bennet's Diary for hours.


Upon my recent revisiting of Pride and Prejudice, I was struck by aspects of Elizabeth Bennet's character and observations that I had forgotten or overlooked on previous readings and am impressed that Williams incorporates them into her version of Lizzy's diary. Her comments on the vast differences between her father and mother's personalities, the lack of sense and propriety in Lydia appear, as is expected, in this diary form and are tempered by Williams's lively sketches in the margins of the diary pages of cats chasing mice, dogs chewing shoes, birds on wing and pigs and sheep on the run, in addition to borders of leaves, flowers, hearts and tea cups. 

If all this is not enough to convince you, despite everything I knew about Marcia Williams when I opened Lizzy Bennet's Diary, it took the enthusiastic embracing of the book by two adult Jane Austen aficionados (ages 70 and 84) to convince me that this is indeed a book worth sharing with you here.


Other books by Marcia Williams - 
all available in paperback!






 Source: Review Copy



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!

Be…