Monday 25 September 2023


Welcome to My Jane Austen Book Club!
Today, we embark on a bewitching literary journey that merges the timeless atmosphere of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice with the enchanting world of magic. Get ready to uncover the secrets and confessions of the Bennet family like you've never seen before as we dive into The Scandalous Confessions of Lydia Bennet, Witch. Join us as we explore this wildly inventive and utterly addictive reimagining, and don't miss our exclusive interview with author, Melinda Taub, where we delve into the magic behind the pages.


What was your inspiration to write a Pride and Prejudice retelling from the perspective of one of its least popular characters, Lydia Bennet?

Wow, I’ve spent so long with Lydia now that it’s crazy to hear her called one of the least popular characters! But I guess she’s got a lot of stiff competition. 

If I had to boil down what drew me to Lydia, I’d refer you to a couple of her lines from Pride and Prejudice. This is her very first line:

“What an excellent father you have, girls!” said [Mrs. Bennet], when the door was shut. “I do not know how you will ever make him amends for his kindness; or me, either, for that matter. At our time of life it is not so pleasant, I can tell you, to be making new acquaintances every day; but for your sakes, we would do anything. Lydia, my love, though you are the youngest, I dare say Mr. Bingley will dance with you at the next ball.”

“Oh!” said Lydia stoutly, “I am not afraid; for though I am the youngest, I’m the tallest.”

The tallest! Oh, sweetheart. Those are the words of a child. Lydia is fifteen here, and not an old fifteen. And yet, in less than a year, she’ll be married. I don’t think Jane Austen intended us to think that was a great outcome.

And here’s another one:

After welcoming their sisters, they triumphantly displayed a table set out with such cold meat as an inn larder usually affords, exclaiming, “Is not this nice? Is not this an agreeable surprise?”

“And we mean to treat you all,” added Lydia, “but you must lend us the money, for we have just spent ours at the shop out there.” Then, showing her purchases—“Look here, I have bought this bonnet. I do not think it is very pretty; but I thought I might as well buy it as not. I shall pull it to pieces as soon as I get home, and see if I can make it up any better.”

Surprise! We’re taking you to lunch at a truck stop, because we missed you so much, and by the way can we borrow the money for lunch? We spent all ours on bad hats.” How anyone could fail to love this chaos child is beyond me.

The Scandalous Confessions is written in a journal format. Why did you decide to “break the fourth wall” and have Lydia address an unknown “you” in her entries, someone whose identity is hidden and later revealed?

It barely felt like a decision. I started writing this book on a train from London to Rye, and Lydia’s voice just poured out of me. I wrote like a demon for the next few days and then paused to take stock. I decided that it made sense to have Lydia’s story be told in her own voice – it set it apart from Pride and Prejudice, and it made more sense for Lydia. Elizabeth Bennet is thoughtful and deliberate. She at least tries to take the perspective of other people around her. Lydia doesn’t bother.

As for the mystery recipient – I wanted to tie the timelines together, and to give the reader a sense that Lydia might not be a completely reliable narrator. When you’re trying to convince someone of something, you write differently than if you’re just setting down what happened. My main reason for keeping it a secret was that I wanted to introduce the reader to the mystery recipient gradually. This book is about how you never really know anyone’s full story, so I wanted that loose thread early on to let the reader know that there was this important figure in Lydia’s life whom we couldn’t infer from reading Pride and Prejudice.

Lydia is the evergreen drama queen in Jane Austen’s classic tale. Can you share your thoughts on her wild and impulsive behavior. Does it feed into the fact that she is a witch in your new story?

It definitely feeds into that fact. The witches Lydia meets early on are pretty selfish, willful people. That shapes her view of where she stands and what she can get away with. However, their selfishness and greed ultimately just reflects the same things in non-witching society.

All Jane Austen books are about people in a tiny, privileged sliver of society, fighting with all their might not to fall out of that bubble. Well, Lydia does fall out, and her life is going to be much harder for it – but she’s also going to see sides of the world that her sisters never will. That made me think – what if she was already part of a strange, dangerous unseen world? What if she could see wonders her sisters never saw, but also had to face threats they didn’t have to worry about? Also, what if Kitty was a cat?

What was the most challenging aspect of writing a retelling of a classic tale? Did you follow the plot religiously, or use artistic license?

I followed it as religiously as I could. I have elaborate timelines and notes. If you find any mistakes, no you didn’t.

It’s a challenge and a benefit all at once. I find it useful sometimes to have a kind of scaffold to grow my writing over and around. It was also a relief, though, when I got Lydia to Brighton and could spread my wings a bit.

Jane Austen is known for her biting wit and social reproof. Did Austen’s writing style affect your own when you wrote The Scandalous Confessions?

Pretty sure Jane Austen’s writing style affects everything I write.

Did you conduct research on witchcraft to write your story? If so, did you discover any interesting facts about the occult that you used in the novel?

I didn’t do systematic research on witchcraft, but I tried to give it a flavor. I wanted Lydia’s magical world in Meryton to feel extremely English, so, for example, she’s asked to sour a cup of milk, because witches were sometimes accused of souring their neighbors’ milk. Some of the herbs I have her use correspond to real folklore too, though honestly, I don’t remember which ones are based in lore and which I just made up.

Not the occult precisely, but an interesting thing I found when researching Obeah (Miss Lambe’s flavor of Caribbean magic) was that it’s still illegal in several countries! Not that that stops people of course. This was another reason I made up a lot of the magical practice in my book. I wanted it to feel grounded in the cultures and history it came from, but I didn’t want it to be too close to the spiritual practices of real, living people.

What is up next in your writing career?

What do you think Mary Bennet is up to in that bedroom in the attic? She’s not a witch of course, so it’s probably fine. When has a smart, overlooked, frustrated girl ever gotten herself in trouble? Hey, is that a lightning rod?


A "wildly inventive and utterly addictive" (Julia Quinn) witchy reimagining of Pride and Prejudice, told from the perspective of the troublesome and—according to her—much-maligned youngest Bennet sister, Lydia.

In this exuberant retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Lydia Bennet puts pen to paper to relate the real events and aftermath of the classic story. Some facts are well known: Mrs. Bennet suffers from her nerves, Mr. Bennet suffers from Mrs. Bennet, and all five daughters suffer from an estate that is entailed only to male heirs.

But Lydia also suffers from entirely different concerns: her best-loved sister Kitty is really a barn cat; Wickham is every bit as wicked as the world believes him to be, but what else would one expect from a demon? And if Mr. Darcy is uptight about etiquette, that’s nothing compared to his feelings about magic. Most of all, Lydia has yet to learn that for a witch, promises have power . . .

Full of enchantment, intrigue, and boundless magic, The Scandalous Confessions of Lydia Bennet, Witch, has all the irreverent wit, strength, and romance of Pride and Prejudice—while offering a highly unexpected redemption for the wildest Bennet sister.


“Funny and fierce as Lydia Bennet herself, this book mixes witchcraft lore with Austen’s story to make its own unique magic. I’ll never look at Kitty the same way again…” ―Claudia Gray, author of The Murder of Mr. Wickham, a Mr. Darcy and Miss Tilney Mystery

“Taub’s wit and creativity shines through. . . A delight for both Austen lovers and fans of magical adventure stories.”―Kirkus Reviews

·       “Wildly inventive and utterly addictive. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm now 100% Team Lydia.” ―Julia Quinn


Melinda Taub is an Emmy and Writers’ Guild Award-winning writer. The former head writer and executive producer of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, she is also the author of Still Star-Crossed, a young adult novel which was adapted for television by Shondaland. (She also wrote that thing about the Baroness in The Sound of Music that your aunt likes.) She lives in Brooklyn.

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Vesper said...

Lydia with powers means a lot of people are going to be in trouble

Maria Grazia said...

That's for sure! 😂