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I remember reading an article a long tme ago, by Bill, I think about how one of the reasons he set BGO up was to warn booklovers about what not to read... so here goes.

 

It's 1921 or therabouts and Gwen, 19, innocent, with violet eyes, beautiful and appeallingly clumsy has come to Ceylon to reunited with her new, much older, desperately good looking tea planter husband who has brooding eyes, a previous wife he won't talk about and has trouble at mill - sorry tea plantation - with workers who want their rights.  There's also an American woman with designs, a spiteful older sister, a faithful ayah who knows things but won't say, a mysterious small grave in the grounds, a dog called Spew (really!), a dashing Singhalese artist, a "secret" that is mentioned in the blurb and which is so flipping obvious that you don't need to read a word of the book to work out what it is, a fiesty cousin who is not afraid to flout convention and a herioine who shows her vulnerability by falling over the whole time.

 

If Mills and Boon style writing cut with a heavy dose of channelling Rebecca and a plot that depends utterly on people not telling each other really important things rocks your boat then sail away.  I've been reading it for my bookgroup and got deeply depressed at having to waste time on it when I could have been absorbed in something so much better.  I'm afraid I'm going to lie through my teeth and pretend I finished it rather than reading every tenth page for the last two hundred just to get a vague idea of what happened.  Believe me there were no surprises.

Edited by Viccie

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Haha - I loved your review, Viccie!

This reminds me of a book called "My Last Duchess" which I bought as a comfort read because I thought it might be based on the Browning poem. It was centred on an American heiress marrying into early 20th C aristocracy, a phenomenon which interests me. I was under no illusions that it was anything other than romantic fiction, but it was very irritating, just like this seems to have been. 

Why do all books aimed at women seem to need the characters to have a (lame) secret?

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Oh yes I remember that one! My mother lent it to me and I thought it might be promising.  I think sometimes I've read too much because as son as I started it I started to realise that she'd based it on the story of Consuelo Vanderbilt who married the Duke of Marlborough and wrote a memoire called, I think, The Glitter and the Gold.  The novel didn't match up.

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Loved your review Viccie, I've read, or should say scanned, books like that.  Usually don't make it to the end of the tale.

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Thank you so much.  I can't stand books like this, although I think I would have been warned off by the title alone.  I hope.

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Thanks Viccie! I really doubt that I'd have been inclined to read this book anyway, but I was thrilled to read someone's railing against that overused, and really pretty ridiculous, plot device of 'the secret'. In my experience human beings are far more likely to blurt out way too much information than they are to keep secrets, or even to fail to express their views and feelings about things. The 'big secret' conceit is right there with withholding information from the reader that is known to all the players as 'most irritating plot device'.

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