This book makes me despair about writing anything set in the 1800s (or a fantasy version thereof.)
It seems there is only one writer who can really capThis book makes me despair about writing anything set in the 1800s (or a fantasy version thereof.)
It seems there is only one writer who can really capture the thoughts and writing styles prevalent at the time, and that is A.S. Byatt.
This book is trying to be Persuasion and is instead Harlequin's Notorious Rake, Innocent Lady, complete with flimsy characters, eye-rolling romantic "suspense," gratuitous fashion porn, and accents/British-isms that appear and disappear depending on what the author had for breakfast. It would probably have been better if it stopped trying to be Jane Austen, and tried instead for, say, Christine Merrill.
I get why it was published. It's a fine idea to combine regency romance with a dash of fantasy. But... this isn't a well-fleshed fantasy world. And it keeps reaching for more than it is capable of delivering.
Think of Jane Austen with thoroughly modern characters involved in pretty-much modern relationships, stripped of Austen's characteristic authorial distance, wit, and observations on human nature. Add in a single fantasy element: the ability to make pretty things out of air.
The writing is excellent, (finally, a Pulitzer-writer who really deserved it), but about halfway through I got pretty sick of the unrelenting selfishnThe writing is excellent, (finally, a Pulitzer-writer who really deserved it), but about halfway through I got pretty sick of the unrelenting selfishness of some of the characters.
Also, the blurb on the back gives away the entirety of the plot, which is both annoying and says something about how much happens in the book.
Overall, the effect is a little like a seven dollar cup of coffee. It's good, yes. And I would have more of it, but it seems almost painfully full of itself and overbearingly trendy (in an East Coast sort of way.) The language seems less like native brilliance of the subject matter and more like over-packaging. That said, the writing IS very good, and Bobby's character, while the least realistic, was the most likable, and the mother's life was wonderfully created....more