07 Jan 2005
01 May 2016
Woman travels to Italy for the destination wedding of her best friend, doesn't get along with the fiance's best friend; wedding plans go awry; wedding goes off, everyone lives happily ever after. The whole story, like the other Boy books, is told through texts, journal entries, etc.
I'm not freaking out over this cover, it's girly, but it does convey a humorous romance, so that's fine. But. This is the story of a woman who is a popular cartoonist, the Wondercat artist. Why wouldn't you put this supposedly internationally-recognized image on the book? Because this isn't just a job, it is also plot important.
As the title might suggest, this is an epistolary novel, told in the form of letters from a harried professor of English and creative writing at a mid-level liberal arts college in the U.S. mid-west.
Many are letters of recommendation for current or former students, whom he remembers to varying degrees (not to mention recommends to varying degrees). Others are addressed to ex-wife or ex-girlfriend (both at the university), his literary agent, his department chair (a sociologist), or the university. (Big beefs include the English department's lack of budget for practically anything - including hiring to replace, IT support, or student stipends - and particularly the issue of building renovation. The building is shared by English and economics. It is being renovated, complete with various leaks, collapses, and asbestos particles - the economists have been moved elsewhere, while the English faculty must remain in the squalor.)
I found this an amusing read, particularly as I grew up around academic departments - my parents are English professors - and many of these details ring true, but made funnier, here. (For example, I can remember when one local English department was gifted with a new department chairman - a professor of agriculture - and another that was not allowed to make phone calls, due to a budget crisis.) I'm not sure how funny it would be to someone who doesn't have that kind of background, however.
I took a multiple year break between this and the rest of the series. It was intentional. This was the last book before Ms. Kleypas started her hiatus from historical romance. I didn't want to not have one if I needed an LK fix. Even after all those years, I fell back into the world of the Hathaways, like a worn in pair of shoes. They feel like real people to me, just as quirky as real relatives. Beatrix earns a special place in my heart as heroine. She is such a wonderful, sweet person, but has a very thoughtful and wise beyond her years core. Many times I didn't feel like Christopher deserved her in the least. I love animals much in the same way as Beatrix, so I really connected to her in her animal and nature love.
The romance seduced me, even when I didn't really like Christopher. I felt bad for his experiences, but his superior and somewhat shallow behavior initially was a turnoff. I like that he did evolve as a character. I was sorry for the way he suffered in the war, and it took that to help mature him. I am sure it didn't help that his mother was so mean to him and made no mistake about favoring John (his brother).
As always, the Hathaways charm the socks off me. It was lovely to see how the years have evolved the various siblings and their spouses. I did miss seeing Harry and Poppy. It was awesome to see the next generation of Hathaways.
Lisa Kleypas has such a wonderful voice and her historical romances are sensual in a way that goes beyond sexuality. Her descriptions of the setting stimulate all the senses in a delightful way. And the letters that Beatrix and Christopher exchange are heartfelt and deep.
Other than Christopher starting out as a jerk, I can't say I disliked anything about this book. I love that he realizes before it's too late what a treasure he has in Beatrix, and he truly is like many of her charges, wounded and striking out in anger, but deep down in need of love and care.
Another wonderful Hathaway novel by Ms. Kleypas. A treasure to read.