Books: Life in Passage

THE WYNNE DIARIES (551 pp.)—Edited by Anne Fremantle—Oxford ($2).

If some of Jane Austen's livelier heroines had kept diaries, the result might have read very much like this book. In 1789, ten-year-old Elizabeth Wynne and her nine-year-old sister Eugenia, children of wealthy English Catholics who lived mainly on the Continent, began to confide in their journals. Mercurial Eugenia was irregular about her entries, but strong-willed Betsy filled up 42 notebooks before she died in 1857. Writing in a dry, clear style which at its best recalls the talk in Pride and Prejudice, the two...