Monday, November 11, 2019

Julie Klassen - Lady of Milkweed Manor

Even a proper vicar's daughter can make a mistake—and now Charlotte Lamb must pay a high price for her fall. To avoid the prying eyes of all who know her, she hides herself away in London's forbidding "Milkweed Manor," a place of mystery and lore, of old secrets and new birth.
But once there, she comes face to face with a suitor from her past—a man who now hides secrets of his own. Both are determined, with God's help, to protect those they love. But neither can imagine the depth of sacrifice that will be required.
Sprinkled with fascinating details about the lives of women in Regency England, Lady of Milkweed Manor is a moving romantic drama about the redemption of past failings and the beauty of sacrificial love.

Comment: This was my first read of November. I have read other books by the author so I already knew what to expect in terms of style and usual plot devices. I was curious about this one, though, because it was the author's first book and I wanted to see how it would compare with the other stories I have read by her.

In this book we have the story of Charlotte Lamb, a young woman who has gotten pregnant and not being married, she is going away to have her baby but she knows she won't be received again in her her father's house. She doesn't share who the father of her child is but she plans on keeping her baby anyway, even though he doesn't know what she will do alone.
Charlotte is then, admitted to a house that specifically welcomes women in her condition and there she gets to learn a lot of the new stage of her life and, more importantly, about hat it means to be a wet nurse. As a way to provide security and health for the new mothers, there are doctors who regularly check on the expectant and new mothers, among them dr Taylor, a man who used to be sweet on Charlotte and who she wouldn't want to meet in her current circumstances but with time she gets to learn a lot about babies with him and it seems they rekindle their friendship but he is married and Charlotte is in no position to think of being more than just a mother to her child...

This author, I've come to realize, likes to create complicated situations that aren't that easy to solve, were one to be in the same shoes as the protagonists. The biggest problem though, is that she seems to get things into such a point - I wouldn't say extreme - that when the time for the HEA finally arrives, the problems don't seem to have been solved properly. I think this was my biggest problem with the book, how the amount and intensity of the dramas playing around the characters felt too harsh to be surpassed and then, almost as if not much had been happening, the story ends.

I think the theme is interesting, this is not an high aristocracy section of the society, the characters have perfectly normal lives in their corner of the world but the female protagonist not only doesn't have it easy in life but is being punished by something she was not the single responsible for. Although, considering the time and place, how this protagonist got to be so trusting to be intimate with the man who got her pregnant also felt so... silly and annoying. Had she been persuaded or passionate I could more easily feel empathy but since she was so  oblivious despite her upbringing, I mean...

That detail aside, I actually felt for Charlotte and her difficulties, I was very sorry she had to be dealing with how others dismissed her, it felt very unfair. At the house for unwed mothers, she faced a situation not often found in historical romances, pertaining the poor side of things, where characters have to deal wit realistic issues and poverty situations. It was good to learn something about the way things were done at the time but it's very difficult not to compare with our own contemporary life, where things are easier despite the fact it's still not easy for single mothers who are cast out of their houses for being pregnant to be able to have a life.

The plot does feel a little unbalanced at times. I liked the atmosphere, the situations created, the little things Charlotte had to learn about what it means to be a wet nurse and until a certain situation, the drama and the slight negative feel of everything felt claustrophobic and impossible to be solved. Then Charlotte has to make a decision which is hard but understandable at the time somehow. However, that means her situation and position at the house where she birthed her baby has to change and that happened in a very over the top manner. Closer to the end of the story more unlikely scenarios developed to suit the path of the main story and that is why I think the author got herself in a corner not easy to get out of.

The romance was very poor and not just because this is labeled inspirational so nothing obvious happens. I think the supposed connection between the main couple just wasn't there. Romance and love aren't only expressed by how good a couple is in bed together. I missed more or better signs that Charlotte and her love interest were actually a good match and could be happy one day. We are told so in the HEA/epilogue but sincerely, that was so badly done I prefer to ignore.

Overall, there are positive details about this story which I liked but the biggest sense I got when I finished is that there's such a build up of drama and problems that I expected a good solution and pace to how things were to be solved but after leaving the reader wondering what kid of Charlotte could do at the end, we are transported to the epilogue where we have information about what happened years later. I mean....
Nevertheless, I still enjoy the writing style, the ideas the author beings to highlight and I'll read more by her.
Grade: 6/10

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