I enjoyed this story very much. This was the first Jennifer Chiaverini Quilt book that I've ever listened to or read, and probably will not be my last. The characters were well formed, the plot moved along nicely, and I learned a lot about life as an abolitionist. The only problem I have with this fine tale is that the author blatantly copys or borrows the entire love story directly from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, my favorite novel of all time. I understand all about allusion, and this was not an example of that at all. In The Bridget Jones Diaries, Helen Fielding playfully references Pride and Prejudice several times, but always in an obvious and tongue in cheek way. Alluding to a great work of literature in this manner is great. Jennifer Chiaverini, however, has her characters, Dorothea Granger and Thomas Nielson speaking lines practically verbatim that Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett said years ago. I didn't like this at all. Surely a capable author such as this could have created a more clever and less cliched romantic element to this otherwise enjoyable story.
The main word that kept coming to mind while listening to this book was "weak". The characters are flat and one dimensional, and Chevalier cannot seem to decide which topics to focus on. The end of the oppressive Victorian Era, class distinctions at the turn of the century, The suffragette Movement, A girl's coming of age, infidelity - and sexual depravity were all included here. Sadly by attempting to tackle so much she ends up covering none of them well.
This story just ends up shallow, dull and with a plot that disolves rather than concludes.
Bottom line, this is simply not Tracy Chevalier's best work.
Audible side note: why the narrator chosen for this story opted to read it with an American accent is a mystery to me. The entire story and its characters takes place in England, but it may as well have been Columbus. I found this to be very disappointing.
I really wish I'd read the book description more thoroughly...I didn't notice this was written in the twenties, and that may account for its being a slower-paced story. But then, The Great Gatsby wasn't slow at all, so who knows. I realize the author may have been demonstrating the dull pace of life by which Topper lived, but even when things got "rolling" with THe Kurby's this book continued to bore me to tears. The plot was silly, ridiculous and absurd...but not in a way that was funny, more in a way that was tedious and dull (did I mention DULL yet?) Sorry if this seems harsh, but it's the way I heard it.
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