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Sunday, June 5, 2011

CLOSED Wickham's Diary by Amanda Grange + giveaway

Wickham's DiaryAmanda Grange

This prequel to Pride and Prejudice begins with George Wickham at age 12, handsome and charming but also acutely aware that his friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy, is rich, whilst he is poor. His mother encourages him to exercise his charm on the young Georgiana Darcy and Anne de Bourgh in the hopes of establishing a stable of wealthy social connections.
At university, Darcy and Wickham grow apart. Wickham is always drinking and wenching, whilst Darcy, who apparently has everything, is looking for something he cannot find. Wickham runs through the money Darcy gives him and then takes up with the scandalous Belle, a woman after Wickham's own greedy, black heart.

Amanda Grange is one of the most easily recognized names in the Jane Austen game.  Her work is prolific and loved, and I own a couple of her books.  For whatever reason, I've never really read her.  It seems that I did once (Darcy's Diary sounds sort of familiar), but if I did it was in the early days of my Jane mania when nothing held a candle to the original and every adaptation I read made me bitter.
I've gotten over that now (for the most part), so I was fully ready to see what Amanda made of one of the most interesting characters to me, George Wickham.

Wickham is fascinating because he's a little hard to peg down, and opinions of him differ vastly and are always strong: for most, he's either a misunderstood bad boy or the Regency era's #1 scoundrel -there is no in-between.  For me...well, he leaves me with questions.  There's so much I want to know about his life and how he became Mr Lydia Bennet.  I mean, he grew up at Pemberley, he knows Darcy intimately, he's charming and handsome, etc.  But he also seems to be a bit of a cad, mercenary and liar.  I want to know who Wickham really is, and if anything he says or claims to feel is genuine.

I was hoping to get that in Wickham's Diary, which has the tagline "Jane Austen's quintessential bad boy has his say."   I was prepared for a lot of reasoning and misunderstandings and some sympathy, but that's not what this book is about.  Grange's Wickham is not the misunderstood almost-hero, but the scoundrel many Austenites sneer at.  He's a money-grubbing, manipulative, plotting jackass, with not much likable in his character.  Occasionally there are the barest glimmers of something more, some potential in him, but those are quickly quashed.

I'm sure this take on his character will be fine for many people (as I said in my Round 1 response to P&P, we love to be validated in our own ill opinions of people).  And though I wasn't getting the subtlety and humanization I was looking for in the story, I was prepared to alter my expectations and go with evil Wickham.  But in the end this one didn't really work for me, and it all hinged on one thing: Wickham is (apparently) a mama's boy.  Everything he does, the person he is, seems to stem from his mother, who bears no little resemblance to his spendthrift, careless wife Lydia.

The younger years of Wickham's diary are basically just a catalog of Mother Wickham instructing Young George on How to Win Wives and Influence Pocketbooks©.  She tells him to make himself charming to any wealthy young ladies, and/or wealthy friends with sisters; to always be pretty; not to drink (which he ignores for a memorable stint); to take note of Georgiana Darcy and Anne de Bourgh (just in case), etc., etc.  Basically to be as disingenuous and weasly as he can be, and cover all his bases.  Why?  So that one day, he can take care of her in style.  Mama W wants some $$ dolladollabillsyawl.   And dutiful, doting son that he is, Wickham follows her advice/instructions to the letter.  (Accept for, you know, the drinking thing.)

Though his relationship with his mother was interesting (especially in light of his ending up with Lydia), it was all a little lot too convenient for me.  I didn't buy the Wickham I knew as a pawn of his mother's machinations, at least not without a lot more development (as she only shows up sporadically, shopping bags in hand).  And I think that's what it all comes down to: I didn't recognize this George Wickham as the George Wickham I know.  There's so much potential for subtelty and gray area in Wickham's character, as it's not necessarily such a horrid thing to be looking to marry well rather than happily.  That was the goal of most people at the time, after all.  There is room to create some sympathy and understanding and interest in his character, rather than having a flat leech.  

There were things I liked, though.  I found Wickham's relationship with Darcy interesting, as it's not always antagonistic, and is sometimes almost brotherly.  Also, the glimpses of the feelings and situations of both just prior to the events that lead them to Hertfordshire were really nice, and I liked Darcy's searching wistfulness.  There were consistencies, too, in both the book and how it ties to Pride and Prejudice that made sense and expanded Wickham's character.  And it's a super quick read, really; like, 2 hours tops.  I think many anti-Wickham's and die-hard Janeites will find this one a quick, pleasant read.  But there are huge gaps in the diary, which really only hits the key points in his life/development, and I think if these had been used to fill out his character outside of the familiar story, it would have been much more interesting.


Thanks to the lovely people at Sourcebooks (and I do mean LOVELY.  Did you see the stack of books they sent me to give to you?), I have an ARC finished copy of Wickham's Diary for 1 lucky winner.

To enter, leave a comment telling us either your opinion of Wickham (if you've read P&P) OR why you want to read this (if you haven't) and then fill out this form.
Ends June 30

Make sure to stop by later in the event for a guest post from Amanda Grange!

Click to be taken to the Main Page & Schedule


  1. It's been so long since I read Pride and Prejudice, I don't really remember what my opinion of Wickham was. I don't think I paid him much attention, as I knew that Elizabeth would end up with Darcy, anyway. I want to read this book because I love seeing other people's takes on classic lit.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. I haven't read P&P in ages. But I really want to win this because I like to see other points of view.

    lizzi0915 at aol dot com

  3. thank you for the giveaway!!!

    i want to read Wickham'sDiary to see where Amanda goes with Wickham's story!!!!!


  4. I haven't read it, but would love to read about Jane and Wickham and find out how their relationship develops.

    meredithfl at gmail dot com

  5. I always considered him a cad, so would like to see how the author handles his book.

  6. Wickham seemed to me to be a player.


  7. I didn't like Wickham not so much because he's a gold digger but because he insists on damaging reputations and causing so many other problems in the process. Thanks for the giveaway!

  8. its been long since i have read that book....but i did find him charming at first...n than it surely changed later

  9. Every book needs a villain and Wickham was the one in P&P. I think the whole idea is to contrast the villain to the hero and this was successful. He is depicted as totally without any redeeming characterictics.

    Modern day books often tend to blur the distinction between bad and good but I think it is not always adviseable to see in shades of grey.

    Carol T

    buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

  10. Why I want to read it? Duh. I want to know what happened before Mr Darcy sneaked into out hearts ;-) !

  11. Oh! I really want to read this! I think Wickham is a hard one to pin down. He seems so charming and it's hard to think ill of him when he's paying his attentions to Elizabeth in the beginning. Is he such a bad guy? Yes and no! He proves not to be so good but is it the circumstances that have pushed him to his less than honorable conduct.

    Thanks for this giveaway!


  12. I have never read P&P but I have watched the movies (a few different ones). I want to read this so I know how alike the movies are to the book, though this is a different version. Thank you.

    sassysasha817 at gmail dot com

  13. I recently read P & P for the first time. Would love to read this.

  14. I can't wait to read Wickham's Diary. (Been wanting to since it came out) It is on my TBR list. I am really excited to read Amanda's take on Wickham! My favorite Wickham adventure in a novel so far is in The Truth About Mr. Darcy! :) What a rogue!

  15. This looks really interesting, would very much try to read this!

    Thanks for hosting the giveaway and making it international =D

  16. No need to enter me, as I've already read the book. Just wanted to add my two cents. I didn't mind Grange's characterization of Wickham, but I didn't like how she ended the story before the events covered in P&P. I would have loved to see the whole Lydia situation through his eyes.

  17. I agree, that would have been interesting. And to see a bit of the confrontation with Darcy when he finds them in LDN.

  18. Of course I have read P&P, and in my opinion, Wickham is one of the most dangerous villains because he is a charming, hard to resist amoral rake. And that is exactly why I would love to read his diary, to see what went on in his head and whether he had more than one dimension. Just loved the lovable Wickham portrayed in Lost in Austen! :-D

  19. LOST IN AUSTEN WAS MY FAVORITE WICKHAM! I loved the way they portrayed him; that was the type of thing I wanted to see, some depth and dimension.

  20. I didn´t like him so much but I still would like to read his story :D

  21. I havent read this book yet but id love to see the authors take on Wickhams character. I dont favor Wickham to much. He irrated me with way he played people to further himself.

  22. I would like to read another's insight on Wickham and I have a thing for books written in diary form.

    Thanks for the giveaway!


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