Author – Julianne Donaldson (American)
Publishing Year – 2012
Genre – Romance, Regency era
Pages – 264
My Rating – 2.5/5
An Entertaining Read!
Set in the Regency era, this love story follows Marianne as she finally finds happiness and comfort at the grand estate of Edenbrooke. The fairy-tale title of the book suggests a fairy-tale romance, and in that expectation, one is not disappointed. It was an enjoyable and quick read that I finished off at one stretch. Marianne, a wild spirited young lady who is sentimental and endearing, who likes to speak her mind very often (and send one into peals of laughter) is a sweet combination of the authentic, open hearted and lovable heroine. She is a non-conformist, not out of defiant beliefs against the societal norms but simply as a young, up-front and sentimental character. She is sent to the wonderful countryside estate of Edenbrooke to learn “elegance” and “how to behave like a lady” from her sister Cecily and other respectable family members. Marianne, herself, is overjoyed at the prospect of being in the countryside again. As she goes through this novel, in an attempt to improve upon her mannerisms and befit the high society, she is disenchanted by the supercilious hypocrisy of the people she has been sent to learn from.
The story is charming– it follows the innocent open hearted Marianne as she proves herself to be stronger, more talented and beautiful than she ever thought herself to be. The romance is delicious as it builds up between the audacious yet gentlemanly, strong but vulnerable Sir Philip who falls hopelessly in love with Marianne and is ready to go to vast lengths to win her affections. A good romance story must have it’s hurdles and must draw the story out deliciously; testing the love, evoking jealousy, with moments of tear-jerking romance, outstanding bravery and the thundering panic of having almost lost the person you love the most. And so it does. There is Cecily, the elder sister who has always accomplished what she sets out to get (and this time she sets out after Sir Philip), there is the onerous Mr. Beaufort who stands in the way, the clouded mystery behind Sir Philip’s disagreeable actions and the delightful conversations, so warm and heartfelt; as she finds happiness in his company.
This novel, while engaging and entertaining, fails to surprise. The writing is simple and unrefined making cardboard characters. It lacks freshness of detail, richness in writing, thought provoking observations, or detailed characters with an astuteness in their own psychology. It is a melodramatic light hearted read that is quite pleasant and predictable. I have to admit, a guilty, easy-going, hammock pleasure of a ride. Pick it up when you are warm and cosy and yearn for an equally cosy, comfortable, feel-good story.