February 21, 2022

#BookReview: The Lives of Diamond Bessie by Jody Hadlock

Synopsis: “This affecting tale of a 19th-century American woman struggling to prove her worth other than as a marriage prospect leaves a lasting impression.” Publishers Weekly

The Lovely Bones meets the Wild, Wild West in this haunting tale inspired by a true story.

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.

"As fascinating as it is riveting as it is original, The Lives of Diamond Bessie is a compelling novel of historical suspense. Bessie is a character who will haunt you for all the right reasons—for her determination, her heart, and her soul. I was enthralled." NYT bestselling author M.J. Rose, The Last Tiara

This title will be released on April 5, 2022.


Rating: 4 Stars
My Review: This was a powerful story that made me cry so hard.  I felt so much for Annie and her situation.  This reminded me a little of a movie that was out ages ago. I forget the title but its a classic.  This story will haunt you until the very last pages and for much longer after you are done. 


“[A] genre-bending debut novel. . . . There’s an impressive deliberateness in the way that Hadlock present her themes. . . The novel also skillfully uses foreshadowing to create a suspenseful atmosphere without giving the game away. . . . An often engaging and inventive character study.” 
Kirkus Reviews

“Drawing on a true story, Hadlock uses authentic period detail and well-drawn characters to pull readers into Annie/Bessie’s precarious journey toward redemption, which comes to an unexpected ending. This affecting tale of a 19th-century American woman struggling to prove her worth other than as a marriage prospect leaves a lasting impression.” 
Publishers Weekly 

“Hadlock’s unvarnished, sympathetic portrayal makes Bessie’s hardscrabble existence all the more heart-wrenching and transforms Bessie into a feminist heroine. 
The Lives of Diamond Bessie is a picaresque, a courtroom drama, and a ghost story rolled into one, celebrating the heart and soul of a woman done wrong.” 
— Mark Beauregard, author of 
The Whale: A Love Story

 “Fast-paced, richly observed, and populated with vibrant characters, 
The Lives of Diamond Bessie is unputdownable.” 
—Adrienne Brodeur, author of the bestseller 
Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me 

About the Author

Jody Hadlock’s love of history goes all the way back to junior high, when she was a member of the Junior Historians of Texas—so it’s no surprise her first novel is historical. She studied journalism at Texas A&M University and worked as a broadcast journalist and then in nonprofit public relations before turning her focus to fiction. She also writes screenplays and won the 2020 Dallas International Film Festival’s screenplay contest. She lives in Colleyville, TX.

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