I am not particularly fond of what I generally think of as 'soap opera fiction' or romance stories that all have the same plot, the same characters, blah blah blah borrrringgg. I am also not fond historical fiction that is nothing like the era being portrayed - meaning the author did not do his/her homework before writing the novel, nor am I fond of book reviews that give me the entire plot of the book, and the ending, and therefore negate my need to read the book. So, this may not be your typical book review.
I received this book for free from Fiction Readers Mod (fictionreadersmod) in exchange for my review of it upon completion, and when it arrived began to read it, trying to keep an open mind for fear of it turning out to be one of those kinds of books. I did so, however, with a sense of foreboding that this was going to be one that I would need to force myself to finish reading.
Not so, fortunately.
I was immediately drawn into the world of the troubled young Charmaine, the main character of the story. I felt her pain at the loss of her mother and others in her life as well as the apprehensions she felt even while bravely starting a new life for herself in the house of the wealthy Duvoisin family as the new governess. She finds herself easily falling in love with the children, befriending the beautiful Colette, avoiding the wicked Agatha, and tormented by brothers Paul, and especially the brother to hate - John.
Just as quickly as Charmaine was caught up in this family's mysteries and secrets, I was caught up as well, and held there until the last words of the last chapter.
And that is where my one and only disappointment with this book hit me.
I am afraid I did not realize this particular book was book one of a trilogy. I was not anticipating that the book would end rather abruptly, leaving me feeling frustrated and harboring an irrational ire at the sister authors of this collaboration for ending this book where they did.
If it weren't for that particular bit of irritation I may well have given this book a rave review. I realize that trilogies have to end somewhere, but this one was just too abrupt for me - I felt that it did not make sense. It was as if there was a chapter missing or something.
Although I am not against trilogies, or series, I tend to dislike those series books that cannot stand alone as well as make me long for the sequel.
I do recommend the book as wonderful reading material, and if you read carefully, you'll find a magnificient use of symbolism throughout the book that simply adds even more depth to each and every character. You cannot help but cheer for certain individuals, sneer at others, and hope for the best in situations that truly may be hopeless.
So, if you are willing to invest in reading the entire trilogy (the next one isn't due out until April 2009, btw) then by all means read this book! Heaven knows I will have no choice because I will most definitely have to find out what happens next!
By the way - for those of you who are on paperbackswap.com, and are interested, I will be placing the book on there, to be passed along - a sort of sharing of the wealth. All I require - and this is my request and mine alone - is that when you have finished the book, write your own review, here and at paperbackswap.com, and pass the book along to another Gather-ite or fellow swap member to read, enjoy and review.