Thursday, April 21, 2011

Review: WICKHAM'S DIARY by Amanda Grange

In Wickham's Diary, Amanda Grange has written a cautionary tale of how circumstances and personality can conspire to make a man go wrong.

In Georgian and Regency England, birth was all. No matter how brilliant, hardworking or even wealthy, a person's place in the natural hierarchy trumped all. But if a man was not born to wealth and power, he could obtain some if he used his opportunities.

Wickham, son of the elder Darcy's steward, was the younger Darcy's childhood playmate and friend. As such, Wickham had access to the highest circles of society. In addition, the elder Darcy paid for the boy's education at Cambridge, which the Wickhams could never have afforded. Wickham was always a bit wild, but his mother's guidance kept his more undisciplined tendencies in check. She urged him to better himself by using his acquaintances among the upper classes, but she died while he was still in Cambridge. Unchecked, Wickham's always-present resentment toward Fitzwilliam Darcy's privileges took root and festered, with the culmination of his attempt to elope with Georgiana.

I found this story sad in that a basically good young boy went wrong because of a lack of guidance. I am also angry at the adult Wickham, who had advantages others of his class could only dream of, and yet squandered them all. But I am angry as well at a world that produced sycophants like Mr. Collins, malcontents like Wickham, and the sanctimonious Fitzwilliam Darcy who took his exalted place for granted.

Kudos to Ms. Grange for portraying Georgian England in such a true light as to bring out both reactions.

Thank you all,
ARC Supplied by Sourcebooks

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