Book Reviews: ‘Hetty Feather: Diamond’ by Jacqueline Wilson
by Jacqueline Wilson Series: Hetty Feather #4 Published by Doubleday Children's
on 26 September 2013 Goodreads
Diamond wasn't always a star. Born to penniless parents who longed for a strong, healthy son, she was a dainty, delicate daughter - and a bitter disappointment.
Discovering she has an extraordinary gift for acrobatics, Diamond uses her talent to earn a few pennies, but brings shame on her family. Then a mysterious, cruel-eyed stranger spots her performing, and makes a deal with her father. Diamond is sold for five guineas, and is taken to become an acrobat at Tanglefield's Travelling Circus.
The crowds adore Diamond, but life behind the velvet curtains is far from glamorous. Her wicked master forces Diamond to attempt ever more daring and dangerous tricks, until she is terrified to step into the ring. But there are true friends to be found at the circus, too: the gentle Mister Marvel; the kindly Madame Adeline; and the glorious Emerald Star, Tanglefield's brand-new ringmaster, and Diamond's heroine.
When life at the circus becomes too dangerous to bear any longer, what will the future hold for Diamond? And will her beloved Emerald be a part of it? [/box]
RUBY, AGE 11, REVIEWS
Star rating: * * * * * 5 out of 5
(Warning: here be spoilers)
My dad laughs when he sees me reading Jacqueline Wilson books as he says they all have similar plots, but this one and the Hetty Feather series are different. Plus I can tell him that they are educational as they are set in Victorian times.
I started reading this thinking it was going to be about the same girl from the three books in the Hetty Feather series; it isn’t. The book starts off when a girl called Ellen-Jane Potts states ‘My name is Diamond’.
It then goes on to tell her life story. Well, it actually starts before her life. Her mother was very holy and called her first three sons Luke, Mark and Matthew. She was hoping very much to complete the full set of gospels, but a girl came instead! So she called her Mary-Martha (the most holy name she could think of). Her Mother was still desperate to have a fourth boy, so that she could name him John, but instead another girl appears – Diamond!
When Ellen-Jane was six, her mother decided to give one more shot at having a boy. The midwife strongly advised her not too, as she was very weak and frail. But, she would not listen. She knew her days would soon be over, so she thought she needed to complete her wish. When the baby finally arrived Ellen-Jane found her father in the pub, drunk. When she got him home they saw a baby boy, but her mother was dead!
The family were really poor and Ellen knew they had to do something for money, so she started to do some handstands and crab walks for money. She knew if her father caught her she was dead, so she had to be careful who was watching. But, one day, she was doing all her acrobatics when a man, called Mister Beppo, was watching. He was from a circus, and bought her from her father for five guineas (a big sum of money). She couldn’t believe it – her own father had sold her, for five guineas! Mister Beppo gives her the stage name ‘Diamond’.
Her circus life carried on, as she trained to be an acrobat, and her beloved heroine, Hetty Feather (star of the three Hetty Feather books), joined as the ringmaster! She was very happy until she messed up a show one night when she failed to land on another acrobat’s shoulders and broke her wrist. Her master, Beppo, was going to beat her!
Hetty and Ellen ran away, and the story ends on a cliff hanger, so I’m expecting another book!
My favourite bit is when Hetty and Ellen run away, but I also like the bit where she gets sold because if that hadn’t happened then she would have never met Hetty and her horrible father would still be in her life.
I really enjoyed this book because Jacqueline Wilson brings the characters to life and the book is both sad and funny.
But I would recommend reading the first three (Hetty Feather, Sapphire Battersea and Emerald Star) before starting this one as the story will make more sense.
I am going to suggest that my Dad reads this as he would love it and might change his mind about Jacqueline Wilson books!
Star rating: ***’ 3.5 out of 5
Hetty Feather returns in Diamond, Jacqueline Wilson’s fourth book in the Victorian-set series. Well, Hetty Feather sort of returns. You have to wait for half the book but she finally shows up on page 156.
In Hetty’s place we have Diamond, originally named the slightly less sparkly Ellen-Jane Potts. After a fair amount of the misery at home that Jaqueline Wilson writes so lightly yet so sensitively Diamond the acrobatic child wonder is sold to the circus where drama and tumble turns await.
Diamond is much less feisty and brave than Hetty, but the contrast comes as something of a relief as two characters as strong as Hetty Feather would have been exhausting if they appeared on the page together. Instead readers will easily identify with Diamond – a little more shy, a little nervous, and desperate to be best friends with Hetty.
Fans of Jacqueline Wilson will adore this. The story crosses over with the third book in the series, Emerald Star, and readers familiar with that story will delight in the tale being told from a different perspective.
Non-fans of Jacqueline Wilson are unlikely to change their minds. All of the usual suspects are here, including the dysfunctional families, some surprisingly strong violence, but an overarching message of the redeeming power of love and friendship.
With the strong female characters and the always brilliant (though sadly few in number) illustrations by Nick Sharratt, not to mention the sparkly silver cover, this is the perfect gift for girls. And there’s probably enough circus monkeys and acrobatic drama for their brothers to secretly enjoy it too. Not sure how they’ll feel about the sparkles though.