My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Mrs. Ladd has done it again! …and in the very best way possible.
Delightful. It’s the word I could use over and over again to describe this book. I keep forgetting how much I enjoyed Mrs. Ladd’s book A Lady at Willowgrove Hall; it reminded me so much of Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell (North and South, mostly the movie). I am glad in a way I forgot though, because it made reading this book all the more delightful (I am sorry, but that word is probably going to show up again and again).
Annabelle’s story was solid. The fear, the rejection, the reasons she fled, all were sound and believable. The plot was incredible in my opinion. I enjoyed every moment of this book. There were a few times I wasn’t so sure about reasoning behind certain things though. For instance, the poaching. I know poaching is bad and it was made clear that people could make money by doing it, but I was confused as to why Mr. Bartrell was doing it. I thought he was pretty well off. On top of that, I wasn’t convinced that poaching could bring in a sum large enough to be of significance to men of fortune. I had assumed that poaching was something that only those not used to a high income would use to gain more money. I think this could have simply been fixed by mention of what amounts of money they might have been making. Or even just mention that it was helping rid them of their debts, which would imply that they were making a considerable amount of money through poaching. Regardless, the story was still delightful though I didn’t quite understand this point. Truth be told, that may be only my impression.
The characters and character development was truly grand. I loved getting to know Annabelle and Owen and Hannah. In fact, I have rarely met characters I enjoyed getting to know as I did these. I absolutely loved how Annabelle and Owen spent the majority of their time together in the novel speaking on “normal” terms. Meaning, they seemed to form a friendship and act as friends for almost the entire book, rather than form a romance and act as two people in love. This is one of those books that simply made me smile. I truly felt that Owen loved Annabelle for who she was, not for her looks, not for her money. I saw their relationship as one that would last, since it was founded on a mutual denial of self for the sake of the other. I applaud Mrs. Ladd for writing such a praiseworthy story with such role model characters!
A truly delightful story for mid-teens and up.
This book was given to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All comments here stated are completely my own.
Ratings (# out of 5):
Violence: 4 (They spoke of hanging as a punishment for poaching.)
Romance: 3.5 (Mr. Bartrell was a little too comfortable at one point bursting Annabelle’s personal bubble, but nothing untoward happened. Her brother did wind up hitting her while he was drunk because she was running away from home. These are the reasons I would most suggest this book for older teens. There was kissing towards the end of the novel, but I think it was approached and presented in a good light. It was not overly dramatic or described in depth.)
Language: 5 (I cannot recall any ill-use of language)
Don’t be satisfied with mediocrity!