Pregnant out of wedlock, sixteen-year-old Annie Moore is sent to live at a convent for fallen women. When the nuns take her baby, Annie escapes, determined to find a way to be reunited with her daughter. But few rights or opportunities are available to a woman in the 1860s, and after failing to find a respectable job, she resorts to prostitution in order to survive.
As a highly sought-after demi-mondaine, Annie—now Bessie—garners many expensive gifts from her admirers and eventually meets and marries the son of a wealthy jeweler, a traveling salesman with a gambling problem. With her marriage, she believes her dream of returning to proper society has finally come true. She’s proven wrong when she suffers the ultimate betrayal at the hands of the man she thought would be her salvation. But Bessie doesn’t let her story end there.
Set against the backdrop of the burgeoning women’s rights movement, The Lives of Diamond Bessie is a captivating tale of betrayal and redemption that explores whether seeking revenge is worth the price you might pay.
***Thanks to NetGalley and SparkPress for an eARC of this book. The following review is my honest reflection on the text provided.
enjoyable/easy to read:
The Lives of Diamond Bessie reads like a book report about historical figures – more of an unemotional summary than an immersive story. The characters feel shallow, moving from one event to the next without a real emotional connection.
Bessie lived an interesting life, but I wish she was capable of taking advice from just one person or even just some critical thinking. Instead, she moves from one situation to the next with little planning, usually assuming her looks will get her to where she needs to be.
Thankfully, there is some introspection in the end about how she lived her life. It’s certainly a case of too little, too late, though.
Bessie is also pretty selfish most of the time. She uses others as needed and drops’ friends’ when they stop being useful. Despite all the help she receives from others, Bessie is not one to reach out a hand to others.
I wasn’t expecting the shift from historical/biographical fiction to paranormal about halfway through. I’m usually on board for a fantasy twist, but this was too inconsistent for me and created more plot holes than interest.
Despite being described as ‘set against the backdrop of the burgeoning women’s rights movement’, this doesn’t seem to have been a significant theme in the narrative and could have been done better. Overall, The Lives of Diamond Bessie is pretty average, and while I wish the emotions and events were explored more, it does tell an interesting story about real people.