Brigitte's Reviews > Mr. Cavendish, I Presume

Mr. Cavendish, I Presume by Julia Quinn
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Jul 07, 10

I read this book when it was first released, but have waited to add my two cents so my opinion would be well considered, rather than a knee jerk reaction to Quinn's novel. Pure and simple.... I did not like the book. I understood that Mr. Cavendish was the same story as Lost Duke, told from a different point of view, but it just didn't work. We didn't really get another point of view with this story - simply a rehash of Lost Duke, with a little new info added. I know a writer of Ms. Quinn's caliber understands the concept of POV, so I can only assume her editor was not clear on just what should have happened. I have read several books that are familiar stories told from a different point of view that were wonderful (the Ender's Game series, Mr. Darcy's Diary, and Pamela Aidan's Gentleman series to name a few) so I know the concept can work, it just wasn't executed well here. Even though the timeline is the same, the reader was still treated to too much of the previous book's characters, who simply were not that engaging the first time around. The reader was hardly treated to an alternate point of view, simply a Cliff's Notes version of Lost Duke with Thomas standing around (and frankly, Lost Duke was pretty bland - the story really couldn't take being watered down even more).

I realize that Julia Quinn's style is an ever developing thing, and she is not going to crank out novels that are the same format time after time - that would become stale. The style of her last couple of novels, however, has changed in a way that is rather disappointing. The characters think a great deal, rather than speak to each other. One of Quinn's trademarks was witty, sparkling dialog that made for some laugh out loud moments when reading. Now, the characters are rather paper thin, bland and they must be charming because the reader keeps being told how charming they are. They don't actually DO anything charming, the reader just keeps getting told they simply ARE. The reader is being told what the character is thinking, instead of the character acting on their situation or speaking to another character. Frankly, reading about people thinking gets pretty dull.Thomas should have leapt off the page. Instead, the reader was treated to a great deal of introspection (nothing that wasn't offered up in the last book) and the character was simply a yawnfest. He showed very few signs of life until the final pages of the novel, building to the proposal scene.... a proposal scene that was actually rather bland. Apparently the reader was supposed to find the situation romantic because Amelia says it was so.

I like Julia Quinn's work (well, not these last two titles, but other than that, I am a fan), but I am not a sycophant who will proclaim anything with Quinn's name on it to be a masterpiece. Regardless of what new ideas and directions JQ decides to experiment with, there is one constant I hope she will retain, and that is writing characters with actual personalities. Her ability to do so in the past is the reason her books debut on the NY Times Best Sellers list, but the paper thin characterizations of Thomas and Amelia (not to mention Jack and Grace) are the reason the titles drop like a rock on the list once they come out.

I'm still a fan and am hoping for the best with her next title, but this one was a dud.
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