Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas ****

First read and reviewed on 8/5/08 and now I've also listened to the audio!


This is another of the books I lucked into while on my road trip this summer, by foraging through a bag of books destined for charitable donation. It's Ms. Thomas' debut novel, apparently, and wow! it's a great book made even better knowing it's her first!

The story is told in alternating times - first, we learn about how perfect the marriage of Gigi and Camden is in 1893, given they live on 2 different continents, and have been apart for 10 years - since the day after the wedding. But it isn't as perfect as it might seem, and Gigi is petitioning for divorce. Meanwhile, we are brought up to date through a series of flash-backs in 1882/83 into how they met and why they wed, and eventually we learn what brought them to the brink of disaster they teeter on in 1893.

When Camden comes back to face Gigi, he has one condition for the divorce: he wants an heir. Of course, this flies in the face of what Gigi wants, since she is all but promised to a new man, a younger artist who adores her.

But we are shown through their original meeting, courting, wedding and disastrous parting that what they each think they want and want they truly desire are at odds one with the other, because the chemistry that brought them together is still there. Now if they can only get over the wrongs done to each other...

I loved the author's writing style and her character development, and the only thing that kept it from being a full 5 star read for me was my inability to 100% buy into the original deceipt and his reaction to it. After all, although he has pledged his love to another woman, he hadn't actually seen that woman in over a year - and that woman has already made it clear he and she could never marry. And he clearly changed his affections when he met Gigi. His (over)reaction was not to changing his affections, but to how Gigi maneuvered him.

Yes, I did feel he had every right to feel betrayed and even horrified at the lengths to which Gigi went to get his proposal (after she had already proposed to him, and had been turned down.) She did it not for political or financial purposes, though, but for unexpected love. I had trouble fully grasping that a 15 year old Gigi could finagle the original marriage to the cousin who died, as well as an 18 year old Gigi doing what she did to trick Camden. And without the steps she took and the reaction Camden had, of course, there would be no story, so one does need to just go along with it. Well, maybe I'm not making any sense - I did love the book, but in comparison to my usual 5-star-read-feeling, this one rated a 4. Maybe 4 1/2.

On re-reading by audio, I liked it even better. Somehow the narrator brought out the characters and made Camden's reaction seem more rational than when I first read it. After all, she had maneuvered both him and his cousin into marriage, theoretically just to get a dukedom. Since she didn't confess when she had the opportunity, he was crushed because he was so in love with her and he thought she wasn't really in love with him at all. It was an ego-buster, for sure.

1 comment:

Cindy W said...

Glad my review helped you! I will be reading Delicious soon, what about you?