Friday, August 17, 2012
Keeping the Castle
Seventeen-year-old Althea is the sole support of her entire family, and she must marry well. But there are few wealthy suitors--or suitors of any kind--in their small Yorkshire town of Lesser Hoo. Then, the young and attractive (and very rich) Lord Boring arrives, and Althea sets her plans in motion. There's only one problem; his friend and business manager Mr. Fredericks keeps getting in the way. And, as it turns out, Fredericks has his own set of plans . . . This witty take on the classic Regency--Patrice Kindl's first novel in a decade--is like literary champagne!
“If you’re a fan of I Capture the Castle you will love this sharply funny tale of courtship. A delicious confection.” -- Polly Shulman, author of Enthusiasm
“Take one Austenian heroine in desperate financial straits. Put her in a crumbling castle, give her two evil stepsisters and some very unsuitable suitors. Make it funny! Patrice Kindl’s Keeping the Castle is an absolute charmer!” -- Karen Joy Fowler, author of The Jane Austen Book Club
My Rating: **
It looks pretty and sounds funny, but I was really not much impressed with Keeping the Castle.
For one thing, all those comparisons to Austen and I Capture the Castle got me all excited, but reading it felt more like I was reading a cheap imitation of both. There's nothing original here; in fact, it's more a straight up retelling of several Austen books and I Capture the Castle, bordering on plagiarism. The characters were so irritating! I hated Althea and could hardly root for her to get a happy ending. I didn't think she deserved it. She behaves so badly and is so rude and fake to everyone else!
And don't get me started on either Lord Boring (and just so you know, there are plenty of awful names like that in this book) or Mr. Fredericks. If you're looking for romance or tension or longing or desire, you're not going to find it. Nada. Zip.
I think the humor was supposed to be the point, but it was not enough to be a redeeming virtue for me. How could I laugh when the whole time I was reading I was thinking, "Surely this isn't what this whole book is going to be; surely it's going to get better,"? I was so annoyed.
There were glimmers here and there of things I found interesting, and I did read it quickly (this is a short book), but overall I did not enjoy it. Not recommended. Nope. Not even if you're desperate for a good period romance. I say go with the originals (I especially love I Capture the Castle) and if Austen originals are not your thing, try out Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson.