by Jody Hadlock
When sixteen-year-old Annie Moore becomes pregnant, her mother sends her to a convent where she is forced to give up her daughter. She excapes but collapses on the street and is taken in by kind women in a grand house. The women have beautiful clothes and work at night. Naive Annie doesn’t realize that she is in a high class brothel. Determined to find respectible work so that she can find her daughter and care for her, she soon learns that employment options for a young woman in the 1860s are scarce. Annie feels that her only option is to join the other women working in the house.
The madam changes her name to Bessie and after a slow start, Bessie soon becomes extremely popular. Men begin giving her diamonds and soon she is known as “Diamond Bessie”. However, Bessie yeards for a husband and a family so that she can find her daughter and raise her. When Bessie meets Abe Rothchild who is from a wealthy family and marries him, she thinks her life will be better. However, Abe is not the saviour she hopes he will be.
Based on a true story, I found the first half of The Lives of Diamond Bessie to be a page turner but when it took a paranormal turn, it lost me. I’m not a fan of paranormal elements in a book but I did finish it because I wanted to know what happened to Bessie. It is a sad story. The author did a lot of research and it shows and I then also began to try and find out more about this interesting women. I really liked this book until the twist in the second half of it. If you like well written historical fiction based on true events with paranormal elements, then you will like The Lives of Diamond Bessie.
Thanks to Spark Press and NetGalley for the Advanced Reading Copy in exchange for an honest review.
Publication date: April 5, 2022