I first read The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn in 2007 when it first came out. At the time I was working at a bookstore, so you know I snatched this one up as soon as it hit the shelves.
And to this day, it is still my second favorite Julia Quinn historical romance novel.
It wasn’t enough. It might be if she didn’t love him so well. But this…It was too uneven. It would sicken her slowly, until she was nothing but a sad lonely shell.The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn
The Secret Diaries
Our heroine, Miranda, falls in love on March 2, 1810 when her BFF Olivia’s older brother Turner takes her home after a birthday party at their home. Miranda, our historical romance wallflower, falls madly in love when Turner tells her to keep a journal so she can look back on that day and remember how silly the littler girls were who called her plain. Because one day she’ll grow into herself.
Miranda does just that. She starts a journal that night and keeps a journal until the HEA (and presumably after). I love the insight the journal snippets provide. They give both humor and a deep dive into what Miranda’s character is thinking and feeling.
Turner’s wife Leticia dies when she falls from her horse on her way to visit her lover.
Oh yes, dear reader, JQ is setting us up for a very tragic, brooding classic historical romance hero. Turner swears never to remarry.
So why do we find him kissing our dear Miranda the very night of his wife’s funeral?
Miranda is quickly swept off to London for a season with Olivia, and here is where our hero and heroine really start to get into trouble.
The Demands on Women During the Regency
I adore this book for the dichotomy between Miranda and Olivia. The Regency was a period in which the woman’s singular goal was to make an advantageous match, and her worth was pinned to such fleeting things as beauty and wealth and prestige. The friendship between Miranda and Olivia highlights the absurdity of such an idea.
Miranda is plain where Olivia is beautiful. Olivia is the daughter of an earl while Miranda is a mere miss. Olivia gets all the attention while Miranda is often lacking in dance partners.
Yet Miranda is an accomplished woman, and the readers’ views into her character suggest such a practical, sensible, smart woman with an amazing self confidence and fortitude. These are the traits of truly lasting consequence.
Turner and Miss Miranda Cheever
The theme explored in The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever is one that is not often explored. (And if you know of another one like this, please let me know in the comments!) Miranda is madly in love with Turner from the moment he tells her she’ll grow into herself, and while Turner cares for her, he will not say he loves her. This leads to uneven match, which, as Miranda says herself, will one day turn her into a lonely, empty shell.
I consumed this idea of an uneven match because there are great swaths of the book where the main characters are perfectly happy, but it cannot endure. That is the theme of this book. There must come a reckoning when the main characters admit their feelings no matter how uncomfortable it may be.
JQ is posing the question: when is good enough not enough?
The Writing Style
Julia Quinn does not spare a single word in this historical wallflower romance. The story is rife with JQ’s classic witty banter and cutting dialogue. There is very little spared for description or mechanics and this serves to rocket the story forward. It’s quite simply-breathtaking.
If you love wallflower historical romances, definitely pick up The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever. If you love completely angsty romances where the main focus is on the hero and heroine’s love story with very little to no subplots, this is the historical romance for you. If you just binged Bridgerton, this is the book for you. If you’re a human being, this is the book for you.
Want more historical wallflower romance? Check out this book.