Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of my favorite novels, and probably one of few books that I have read multiple times. Mr. Wickham, the dashing and charismatic soldier who had even Elizabeth Bennet fooled, is one of the most fascinating Austen villains, in my opinion. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to spend some time rummaging around in his mind so that I could see what makes him tick.
Amanda Grange has written several Jane Austen retellings, and her latest is Wickham’s Diary. I devoured it in one sitting, and have been pondering over it for the last two days. Based on the blurb on the back of the book, I was expecting that Wickham would be almost tolerable–maybe even likable. But from the very first diary entry, I could see exactly how he became the man I love to hate in Pride And Prejudice.
Wickham’s mother instructs him to manipulate people such as Fitzwilliam Darcy to better his own position in life. Her desire for possessions she cannot possibly afford teaches Wickham to live frivolously and without regard for his financial future. Her ultimate plan is for him to marry an heiress, but while he waits for the right opportunity, he has numerous sexual affairs with every woman that will have him.
After I read this, I felt the urge to re-read Pride And Prejudice because some of the events didn’t seem to fit in with the original. I can’t help but feel that if you are going to play in someone else’s sandbox, you still have to remain true to the timeline of events. In Wickham’s Diary, Old Mr. Darcy dies before Wickham’s father does. I thought in Pride And Prejudice Wickham’s father dies first, which is why Old Mr. Darcy treats him as a son. Additionally, Georgiana tells her companion Mrs. Young that she and Wickham grew up together. There is a 13 year age difference between them, and Wickham would have been away at school long before he’d make an impression on her.
I like the idea of novels written from other characters’ perspectives, but I don’t want them to mess too much with the original story. I felt no sympathy for Grange’s Wickham; she needed to take a different approach with this novel if she wanted readers to feel for him.
Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Sourcebooks Landmark. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.