The Lit Bitch's Reviews > Beauty Among Ruins

Beauty Among Ruins by J'nell Ciesielski
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it was amazing

Last year I read one of J’nell Ciesielski’s novels and fell in love. She writes such wonderful historical fiction and when I saw this book was coming out, I cracked it open the second it arrived.

The cover is absolutely stunning and I thought this one sounded so good. I love WWI romances and Downton Abbey and that’s basically what this book sounded like…..a nice little war romance for fans of Downton Abbey!

As soon as I started it I couldn’t put it down! It was such a great read and for the most part read fairly quick. I loved the characters and of course the romance! I also have to admit that even though this book wasn’t out until now (2021) I read it in 2020 and it definitely made my top 10 list of 2020! Such a great book!

I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed this one! Alec stole the show for me. He was dashing, honorable, loyal, and under all that anxiety about his estate and stubbornness, he was incredibly romantic. While he was serious and sometime a little grumpy, I thought Lily brought out the romantic in him and gave him hope in so many ways. Lily was hysterical without really trying to be. She endears herself to readers easily and readers will find themselves smiling at her optimism and charm. She reminded me of an adult Pollyanna with her ability to see the positive in any situation. I adored her and it made sense that she and Alec would fall in love with one another.

The romance between the two felt epic and full of challenges for each character. There was nothing forced or out of character for them and I enjoyed watching them overcome their own insecurities independently as well as together as a couple. My heart did break a couple of times as things came up and came between them but I loved watching them return to one another and work out their issues. There was so much growth that happened between both Alec and Lily which I really enjoyed watching unfold.

In addition to the characters and romance, the castle took on a life of its own and I felt like the author really captured the state of the ‘upper crust’ during WWI. I find WWI so fascinating not just on a military level, but the social shift that happened as result of the war was unparalleled and in this book the author really showed that with the castle. So many estates during the war struggled without staff to maintain them not to mention the financial ramifications of the upper crust. In this book, the castle is literally falling apart and there are no funds or even people to keep it up and it fell into a massive state of disrepair. Add the dramatic backdrop of the war and you have a wonderfully heartbreaking tale of social change and struggle. I think the author did really well highlighting this.

The only thing I struggled with was the kind of out of left field epilogue. I won’t give anything away but I just felt that Alec’s return left things too opened ended for me. I personally didn’t feel like the epilogue was needed, or maybe to that degree. What should have been a nicely wrapped up ending felt like it opened a door for more questions at the very end. If you have read it then perhaps you noticed it too and we can discuss but if not then I won’t spoil it. The overall story though was strong and this minor thing wasn’t enough to make me drop my rating at all. I still went with 5 stars because it was so wonderful. If you love historical fiction do not miss this one!

See my full review here
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Reading Progress

December 1, 2020 – Started Reading
December 1, 2020 – Shelved
December 1, 2020 –
page 64
December 3, 2020 –
page 131
December 4, 2020 –
page 192
December 4, 2020 –
page 217
December 6, 2020 –
page 311
December 6, 2020 – Finished Reading

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