Sunday, March 2, 2014

Julianne Donaldson - Edenbrooke

Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she'll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry. From a terrifying run-in with a highwayman to a seemingly harmless flirtation, Marianne finds herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure filled with enough romance and intrigue to keep her mind racing. Will Marianne be able to rein in her traitorous heart, or will a mysterious stranger sweep her off her feet? Fate had something other than a relaxing summer in mind when it sent Marianne to Edenbrooke.

Comment: This book has been in my radar since I saw it was such a success in some list at GR about best books of 2012 or something. The blurb seemed intriguing so I decided to get, which I did last year but only this past February I could finally find time to get to it. And I wasn't sorry.

This is the story of Marianne Daventry, a young lady who lives with her grandmother while her twin sister is in London having a fun time. Marianne is quiet and likes peace but when she is invited to meet her sister and the people she's with at Edenbrooke, a rich estate, she is happy to see her sister. However, in the journey to Edenbrooke, Marianne has some problems, from highway thieves to unsuitable appearances for a lady. But after arriving there, dreamy Marianne has the time of her life and a new best friend...

I liked this story a lot! The only critic is that it has this air of perfection making the book too linear in the end, meaning all the expected emotions at the exact places, like the reader has no other option besides what's expected. But this was minimal to me, because like so many others have said before, this romance reminds me of Jane Austen, without her social critics I think. But it's a subtle, romantic story about people being who they are, no matter their station and reaching happiness at the end.

The story features Marianne, a young lady whose expectations aren't high, so when she is invited to Edenbrooke by a friend of her late mother, she says yes not only to be with her sister again but also to feel connected to her mother, to be at a place where she must have been also. While there, we got to know many of Marianne's dreams and thoughts and we could learn she is a simple girl, without much fuss or intentions, but willing to befriend a man that wasn't very polite when they first met. I think the best part of the book is exactly the development of the relationship between Marianne and Phillip. Throughout the book we learn about what really brought them together and how finding out about that shaped some actions further along. Then we saw how what one thinks is true isn't always what it seems, especially for Marianne who listens to a conversation and understands something not true. I think the romance has many nuances to carry on our observation of the scenes and to help us see many things apparently unimportant. But in the end, real chivalry and love are the strongest things to defend and the main couple finally learns about the other's feelings in all this.

I liked many of the small things in this story, the letters Marianne exchanged with her grandmother, her genuine silly moments, her conversations with Phillip...many enjoyable things that help build up character and turn this novel into something wonderful. The end is a bit predictable but it was still good to watch and the scene where Phillip and Marianne finally admit their feelings is poignant and so beautiful... despite the expected elements, like the villains, the opposition of certain characters and the obvious hidden things, reading this book was very entertaining.

In the end, this was such a good story foe me, I felt the need to read more and will eventually get the other book by the author. As for this one, it's a wonderful first book and I almost regret how fast and easy it was to devour it because I wanted it to last longer...
Grade: 9/10

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