7th May 1791
I avoided Peter de Quincy when I first returned to Cambridge, but he keeps seeking me out and it is easier to go along with him than resist him. Besides, he knows all the best people and, when he is not frequenting low taverns, he is introducing me to useful friends. I see less of Darcy than I used. Something about him makes me uncomfortable. He wants to save me, to put my feet on the right path, but his idea of the right path for me does not involve heiresses. On the few occasions I have seen him I have rebuffed him.
(from Wickham’s Diary, page 85 in the ARC)
Amanda Grange, known for writing the diaries of Jane Austen’s heroes, turns her attention to the scoundrel from Pride and Prejudice in Wickham’s Diary. In Austen’s novel, George Wickham is the horrid man who told lies about Mr. Darcy to Elizabeth Bennet, giving her the wrong idea about Mr. Darcy’s character. He attempted to elope with Darcy’s sister and was forced to marry Elizabeth’s impetuous sister, Lydia. In Wickham’s Diary, Grange explores the friendship that existed between Darcy and Wickham when they were boys and how they took two completely different paths in life — Darcy becoming a well-respected gentleman and Wickham becoming a gambler, drunkard, womanizer, and fortune hunter.
At slightly more than 200 pages, Wickham’s Diary is a quick read and made my afternoon commute fly by. I enjoyed Grange’s writing and applaud her for trying something new in the realm of Austen variations. However, there were no major revelations or exciting secrets in this book. Grange begins the tale when Wickham and Darcy are 12 years old, many years before the events of Pride and Prejudice, but the story falls a bit flat. Wickham is encouraged by his mother to become a gentleman by seeking out an heiress to marry, and he initially sets his sights on Darcy’s cousin, Anne de Bourgh. Wickham stops trying to act gentlemanly when he goes to Cambridge, spending his time drinking, gambling, and whoring and setting the stage for several letters to Darcy to beg for money.
Grange barely scratches the surface of Wickham’s character, providing nothing more than what readers could have imagined themselves based on what Austen writes about Wickham in Pride and Prejudice. I wish the story had gone deeper than Wickham’s love for his mother — who reminded me of Lydia Bennet — and his determination to marry an heiress. It would have been interesting to see the events of Pride and Prejudice from his eyes, from the time he arrives in Meryton to his marriage to Lydia and perhaps beyond, but the novel ends rather abruptly.
Although Wickham’s Diary wasn’t my favorite Austen variation, I liked that Grange introduced a few new characters and shed some light on Darcy’s past, particularly the burdens of carrying the Darcy name. The diary format makes it a quick read, and if you can’t get enough of the Austen variations, it may be worth giving a try.
Check out my reviews of other Amanda Grange books:
Disclosure: I received Wickham’s Diary from Sourcebooks for review.
© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.