My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I will admit it took a little bit to actually get into this one. I had no idea what to expect when I went into it. The entire story is told through letters the main character Charlotte is writing to a friend that she never actually plans to send. While this was different and unique, the language and lack of context early on made it difficult to get involved with the story.
I think after about a third of the way through the book however I actually started getting into the story and I grew fond of Charlotte.
I’m glad I stuck with it, but I that it might be a little too unique for some readers.
I feel it is worth noting that I have not read Pride and Prejudice so I cannot comment on it’s connections to this story.
Full Review with Spoilers
As mentioned above, I’ve never actually read Pride and Prejudice and when I read this book, I wasn’t actually aware that the story is essentially a spin off with established characters from that book. I can say that this book can be read on it’s own, but I feel that if I had read Pride and Prejudice first this would have fixed my biggest issue I had when reading this book.
I had a difficult time getting into the story when I started. The entire book is told in the form of letters the main character Charlotte is writing to her friend Elizabeth that never actually plans on sending. This letters or more of a way for Charlotte to essentially write in a diary so she can talk about the things in her life she cannot tell anyone. Because of this, I felt dropped into the middle of a conversation. People and events were referenced that I had no context for. About a third of the way through the book though this stopped really being an issue. As I said, you can read this by itself so the author did a pretty good job of of keeping these comments irrelevant to the overall plot and adding just enough back story that it pieced together without feeling like unrealistic exposition. Beyond that, I did actually end up liking the letter format.It was unique and interesting.
Because of the writing style, we really get to know the Charlotte the most. I found her quirky and funny in certain spots. I grew fond of her throughout the story. Because everything is in her voice, any other characters we meet are told to us as she sees them. This makes it a unique way get to know these characters, some of which, including her own husband, she barely cares about at all. Her love interest, Ailsa Reid is treated the same way, with the exception of her own letter to Charlotte being included for us to read in full. That does give us a chance to know her a little bit better than the other characters, but I was happy to see this only happens once in the story.
Since the story is told in letters the plot has an interesting way of pacing. Charlotte writes when she needs to talk about something and only when she has time to be alone to do so. This sometimes results in only a few sentences written in an evening and long stretches of time between entries. I thought this would bother me more than it did, but I found it really helped keeping the story to more relevant moments. There were a few times I sort of felt like it veered off a bit, but those were fleeting. It stuck very well with Charlotte feelings and relationship with Ailsa.
My only issues is the lack of detail in some spots. The ending felt a little bit rushed. I do understand a lot of it involves Charlotte’s ability and desire to write it all down, but once the plan of faking Charlotte’s death was established it felt lacking. It sort of felt like everything important happened and the rest was just thrown in to finish it out. Once again I understand it is mostly because of Charlotte not feeling the need to write anymore but it was just a bit unsatisfying.
While it was a bit hard for me to get into at first, I am glad I stuck with it. It was an interesting read, but might not be right for everyone.