Jane Digby's Diary

To Begin, Begin

Fiction - Historical - Personage
226 Pages
Reviewed on 11/23/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Carmen Tenorio for Readers' Favorite

Jane Digby's Diary: To Begin, Begin by C.R. Hurst is a historical fiction novel based on a real person named Jane Digby, a young British woman from a wealthy aristocratic family in the early 1800s. The book portrays her as an emotionally precocious and somewhat rebellious lass who chronicled her life through her diary that she calls Marianne, starting at the age of 17 up to her 20s. In it, she writes about the events and turning points of her privileged and elite upbringing and lifestyle, and gives us an inside look at how the rich took pleasure from their wealth. She also talks about the pressures of the training she went through to develop the decorum, etiquette, skills, talents, and habits of a proper and well-bred English lady who's good enough to be presented to the king on her debut. In doing so, she gains formal acceptance into British high society, which assures her of attracting a wealthy husband and living a comfortable and luxurious life. Despite being surrounded by the trappings of affluence, riches, and tradition, she counterbalances it with all the disappointments, unpleasantness, and heartbreaks that are attached to living with what she sees as a hypocritical existence mired in pretentiousness, selfish whims, and betrayals, including her own. Jane Digby expresses almost everything that she feels, from fleeting happiness to deep joy and ecstasy to comments that reflect her poignant point of view of things in the restrained manner the English are known for.

C.R. Hurst achieves authenticity by the dated formats and even by the date of the entries itself. But more importantly, the details, contents, and language used by the author enable the material to appear and sound as if it was indeed written in another era. The author also was able to shift Jane's somewhat giddy-sounding schoolgirl entries to a more insightful individual who becomes well aware of her responsibilities and volition as she gets older. This makes an interesting story as readers seem to wade through a telenovela set in the the1800s but with the familiar elements of dramatic plot twists, blindsided characters, grave betrayals, and decisions that can complicate or even devastate one's future. Indeed, lovers never have it as easy as Jane realizes. And in Jane Digby's case, will love always win? The author has done her research well. Overall, Jane Digby's Diary: To Begin, Begin has good character and plot development and is skillfully written and paced. Recommended for readers who are fans of historical fiction, those who like reading about strong and resilient characters, or simply those who are looking for an entertaining and fast read.