Friday, September 12, 2014

Bittersweet - A Book Review

Poor girls longing to be like the rich tend to be fat and ugly in novels. Miranda Beverly-Whittemore does not disappoint.

In BITTERSWEET, our heroine from the wrong side of the tracks thinks she has won life's lottery when her very wealthy roommate invites her to the family cottage for the summer. Mabel Dagmar (she of the suitably pudgy name) enters the world of privilege but soon realizes that her hosts are a bit odd in an unpleasant sort of way.

Being very, very rich, the members of the Winslow clan are naturally very, very evil while the poor folk who work for them are good, honest people who are made to suffer by their overlords. That sort of cartoonish excess makes the book extremely slow to start, and I put the book down many times over the course of the three months that it sat around unread and ignored.

The book does not become interesting until the mid-point, when Mabel starts to uncover some of the deep dark secrets that the Winslow's wealth has kept covered. Her interactions at the family summer playground with various aunts and cousins form the trail she follows, in part at the behest of the addled spinster aunt who wants the family's secrets to be exposed. Her relationship with the college room mate suffers as Mabel discovers more about the people she envied, the room mate included.

Without giving the ending away, I can say that the family secrets are truly monstrous, but in keeping with the caricature of rich folk at play that the author paints, it fits into the narrative.

BITTERSWEET is a good book for a beach read, once the reader gets past the beginning and can dive into a faster paced narrative. Everything comes right in the end, loose ends are tied up, and the Ugly Duckling evolves into a swan after dropping a few pounds over the eventful summer.

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