Ah, at last, a novel of the series I enjoyed almost as much as The Duke and I. While the developments were very easy to guess after the first three novels in the series, they were still very much fun to read. And, well, it’s a book about two writers falling in love.
Yet, I believe what really grinds my gears, and prevents me from leaving this topic alone and not wasting my energy on thinking about it for 2 days already, is that if the situation was the opposite, as in, if the main characters were supposed to be from somewhere from Africa (or say Asia or Middle East), but instead white British actors were hired to play their roles, there would have been 10 times more outrage.
And then thousands of people who never even read the books would also flock to protest and express their outrage once they’d sniff it out, because how dare the tv producers not respect people’s races and cultures.
And I highly doubt the author would have been able to write her ‘proud post’ about how she thinks the cast is just right, and she never even remembered that her own main character had eyes of a specific colour. and that he is ‘right for the role in every way that matters’ (except race, because race doesn’t matter). Because she would just get stoned for that.
…In everyday circumstances, I would be among the first to say that race doesn’t matter. Because, in everyday life, I don’t really care (and, to be honest, my cognitive abilities are failing enough that sometimes I can’t tell Japanese people from foreigners when I’m outside…).
But when we talk about integrity of cultures and world settings… I think every culture and setting should be equally protected and represented as it was historically, or as it was written to be.
One thought: “Omg, please please please don’t be some kind of Cinderella retelling…” was pounding in my head while I was trying to read through the prologue… and then of course it goes and does just that. Which will make this review even more subjective and negative than usual. I never liked Cinderella, and that is mostly because the character/idea of disgustingly malicious and abusive ‘evil stepmother’ sends me into fits of rage and disgust the second I see it, and the fact that everyone runs in circles of angst because everyone keeps lying to each other. After I finished the prologue I knew that the only way I will be able to read this book is by sometimes skipping through whole pages, because the moment the ‘stepmother’ appeared on the page I would want to commit murder in some violent way and I don’t enjoy the feeling. And I don’t read books to experience it.
Angst is definitely not what I look for in this series. While I’m sure some readers loooved the drama (the evilness, the worrying about how the main characters will escape their increasingly angsty circumstances, eagerly waiting for the truth to finally come out), I personally hate hate hate it. And I hate plots that are built on angst that is built on lies on top of lies on top of lies. Plots like this are not enjoyable to read at all, and I had to read this book very selectively to get through it while hoping that maybe at least the next one could be more like the first one. Benedict is the only good thing about this book, and it made him a character to ‘feel sorry for’ in double: first because his characters in general invites some feeling sorry for (almost of maternal variety), and then because it’s unfortunate that he is the one who ended up with a book with a plot like this. The main character Sophie just might be the most irritating female main character in the series so far (and books by Julia Quinn I’ve read in general). She was determined to make her own life and everything around her more complicated at every step. Then there’s the fact that it didn’t really feel as romantic and all that he made his advances before he knew the truth. Or decided that he didn’t care. There were a few good and fun moments in this book, but there’s also way too much cheesy angst, too much of too cheesy romance lines, and too much of irritating mess in general. Not a book to relax with and enjoy peacefully at all.
I have a lot of mixed feeling about this one. I feel it’s about 3.5 stars, and am still not sure if I rounded the correct way. While I don’t believe this book is one of the author’s earliest, judging by the publication date, it certainly reads like one. Both plot and writing-wise. On one hand, it certainly had its perfect moments (like the brilliant first chapter), and on the other hand the whole main ‘drama’ of the story (the one with obsessing about people not saying the words) and the whole conclusion were utterly and toothachingly cliched and cheesy. In fact, there were uncharacteristically (at least I’d like to think so) many cliched and cheesy moments in this, compared to other books. Then there is the fact that the main female friendship was of a rather insincere nature that shouldn’t be normalized, and the problem that the issue of the ‘friendship’ being half-sided was never recognized or addressed. As well as the fact that there was a number of side characters who were left too glaringly underdeveloped and faceless, which I also felt was uncharacteristic for the author. And there is also the fact that POV floated all over the place. In all, this book just reads very much like ‘one of very first books’, where there are some good ideas but execution lacks style and sophistication that develops with experience.
Perhaps a level lower on the fun and giggles meter than the first book, but still delightful. Even brilliant in some places, like the roles bees played. I love the fact that behind all the humor and romance these books pick up on some very real and serious issues that occur in human psyche and do a pretty good job of showing what goes on in people’s heads.
Julia Quinn is really a master of dialogues and character interaction. So much that I can hardly comment on any other aspects of the story, because there’s this one thing that I already like the most. And I envy the talent.