I have a fabulous co-worker (Katherine!) at the library where I work who told me about a book she read years before and that she used to check out of the library, in the town she lived in at the time, and reread every so often. She has pretty similar taste to mine, so, I searched for that book... and found not one copy, but two, so I was able to give her her own copy! That re-readable book is Princess Pamela by Ray Russell.
It is written in the form of a diary, the diary written by the title's namesake, Pamela Summerfield, Princess being her father's pet name for her as she was born on the same day as Princess Victoria. Pamela is a smart and observant diarist. From the very beginning she takes note of all the news and gossip that swirls around her and her well-off family. Her father owns a brewery, her mother keeps their home in order, managing the staff and acting as a hostess for what are called Saturdays at home, a time when certain friends or family are invited to call. She also has a beloved older sister who has married and moved away, and a brother in college studying for "holy orders" as a divinity student being the grandson of a bishop, his mother's father.
Pamela begins her diary in 1837. It is filled with the details of her daily life, descriptions of her family and, it is obvious from the reactions of those around her, that she, herself, is a lovely young woman of almost 18. She enchants potential suitors with her wit and intelligence, suitors of which we will learn more as we follow her diary through the months and years.
Pamela's voice is captivating and it is remarkable that the actual author of the book is a man who so believably captured the innermost thoughts, fears and desires of a young woman. We, ourselves, are observers to the plights and passions of these characters, especially Pamela's. Her curiosity regarding the details of these passions often leads her to pester her worldly French hairdresser for advice which, at times, she is reluctant to give.
Princess Pamela is also very informative about the social issues and reforms of that time period, taking note of child labor and toxic food additives among the events and occurrences noted, making this a historical novel as well as a "diary". It is a book that certainly deserves to be remembered and one that can be read and re-read to savor all the details. It seems to be out of print, but used copies are available on both Amazon and ebay and well worth the effort of seeking it out.