I was not impressed at all with the book at first. The beginning chapter was rushed, and emotions were all over the place. I was worried the whole book would be that way. It certainly did not pique my interest, but I kept reading anyway.
Then, I was shocked at how different young Eleanor was to the distinguished older Lady Hopkins. She seemed to be a completely different person, and the way she thought of her husband was 100% different than the first chapter would have you believe. You really have to read almost the whole book to understand why, but in general, the mother of the story was not one I respected or liked as a character, even though I wanted to like her in the first chapter.
The main character of the book was thankfully, not Lady Hopkins, but her daughter, Caroline Hopkins, who is 18 and in her second season of going to London and looking for a potential husband. She is quite different than her sister, Lucy, though both are very likable characters. I was actually confused by Lucy’s real character, as her mother characterized her quite differently.
Not surprisingly, this is a romance story. There are multiple courtships for both Lucy and Caroline. Readers will see the clash and awkwardness of pursuing above or below one’s class at that time. Lady Hopkins is dead set on her daughters marrying at or above their class, and isn’t too concerned with love. There is definite tension between daughters and mother due to that.
The book gets better and better as it goes along. It took me a while to get used to how people spoke or behaved (I don’t have a lot of experience reading regency novels), but once I did, I was able to better get into the heads of the characters. My favorite character was Thomas Clark, the gifted cordwainer (shoe maker) in the book.
I found the novel predictable for the most part, but still enjoyable. Caroline was a fun character, full of spunk and individualism – very different from what other women of the day would have been like. Her personality alone made the book a page turner. She had to search her heart and fight her way through social custom to find and choose her true love. Both of the men in her love triangle were good men, but very different. I knew who she would end up with, but still liked the one she didn’t choose for the most part. As a matter of fact, I felt the author had to really stretch to make the second man unlikable enough to justify Caroline not choosing him. That being said, I believed Caroline’s authentic love and admiration for the man she ended up professing her love to. Their relationship included real conversation, humor, and shy blushes. It was adorable to read about their interactions.
Lucy went through a much more traumatic time with her love interests, which was a shocking, but interesting part of the story. Through that experience, we learn more about the intentions and characters of Caroline’s suitors, and see the sisterly relationship grow.
Overall, this is a simple, fun, curl-up-on-the-couch read. As I said, it definitely got better, and some of the characters were complex and unsure of how to make choices based on society’s expectations. Their struggles were realistic and I truly cared what happened to them. This book is worth checking out!