This book would be the offspring if I Capture the Castle attended a swingers party with all of the Jane Austen novels and were disgraced in the family way with this novel. We had the "heroine" of the novel Althea who shared many qualities with Emma from Emma. She shared similarities to Mariane but for the lack of love for the Baron. Althea’s ambitions and feelings of sacrificing herself reminded me of Rose from I Capture the Castle.
Her step-sister Charity stood in for Jane Fairfax. Prudence was Mary Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. Their home is a sort of castle built by the chalk cliffs in Yorkshire. This is where I Capture the Castle comes in. Their family needs money to maintain the castle until her little brother comes along. Althea has to find a rich husband, but she's too outspoken and lets it slip she's only interested in marriage for the money. Althea never lets us forget she is beautiful. If only her selfish step-sisters did not hoard their money [think Sense and Sensibility] they could maintain the estate. Althea spends her time arranging for people to get married like Emma and even uses a painting of herself to help set a couple up. Althea divines matchups to get her rival out of the way. She purports to be a friend while encouraging a man on her “friend”.
This book isn't for me since I enjoy the gothics rather than comedy of manners. I think I'll stick with Madeleine Brent and Mary Stewart when I need my romantic period fix. I gobbled up the Victoria Holt's in my pre-teen years and Jane Eyre is a personal favourite. I like a little danger and mystery.
If you enjoy a heroine who is all about good family breeding, money and status, then this might be your cup of tea. I like a movie with these qualities as much as the next girl but give me Mr. Knightley only when Jeremy Northam is playing him. Please no Mark Strong addressing the servants! Northam is my dream guy and gave Knightley some charm.
Althea kept protesting she needed to marry for the servants sake. She did not have me fooled. She constantly put anyone down who came from trade or whose lineage were not of the peerage.
I suppose we must add Nancy Mitford's U and Non u to the recipe book.
The entire book was written in a tongue and cheek tone which put Mitford in mind.
However, what was she trying to say here? Society is not entirely like this now. They do not have to be at least. So what was the point in telling a book with social themes that don't apply to social themes now? Because they did matter in Austen's time.
This book did not tell an actual story, but rather appeared to ram an agenda down our throats. The question is how social issues that do not exist in our times ought to be parodied. It is true there are some men who believe it is acceptable for a man to value a girl for their beauty. That is not acceptable that the same pretty girl value that man only for his wealth.
I think Bridget Jones successfully took what made Jane Austen work and adapted it into the story. The film Clueless managed quite nicely with borrowing from Emma. This book read like a Nancy Mitford without as much wit. There are still snobby rich people that value class and money. There are not marriage expectations, entailed estates to men or chaperones. Parodies are at their best when they have something relevant to say. Emma, after all, learned her lesson. Althea did not learn any humility, kindness nor consideration.