Monday, August 27, 2007

The Secret Diaries Of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn

Spoilers Alert!

Book Description

2 March 1810…
Today, I fell in love.

At the age of ten, Miranda Cheever showed no signs of Great Beauty. And even at ten, Miranda learned to accept the expectations society held for her – until the afternoon when Nigel Bevelstoke, the handsome and dashing Viscount Turner, solemnly kissed her hand and promised her that one day she would grow into herself, that one day she would be as beautiful as she already was smart. And even at ten, Miranda knew she would love him forever.

But the years that followed were as cruel to Turner as they were kind to Miranda. She is as intriguing as the viscount boldly predicted on that memorable day – while he is a lonely, bitter man, crushed by a devastating loss. But Miranda has never forgotten the truth she set down on paper all those years earlier – and she will not allow the love that is her destiny to slip lightly through her fingers…

This is my book club’s pick for the August-September 2007 discussion.

As popular as Julia Quinn is, I hadn’t read any of her books before and didn’t know what to expect, except that she writes Regency. Although Regency isn’t an era that I particularly like, I read this book with an open mind.

I found her writing style breezy and effortless. From the first pages, I deduced that this would not be a profound read. From start to finish, wit took the center stage.

Miranda harboured a crush, which later grew into love, for Turner. Her secret and unrequited love of 9 years should have evoke a poignant emotion in the reader, but I wasn’t particularly affected. At times I liked, and empathized with, her but more often than not, I just didn’t feel very much for her.

Turner kissed Miranda for the first time on the night of his wife’s burial ceremony. I didn’t think it was plausible that he would passionately kiss a girl whom he had up till then never felt an attraction to, and whom he regarded a friend of his younger sister, who was also somewhat a member of his family.

I thought certain dialogues between Turner and Miranda, as well as some parts of the story, quite tiresome and inane. The author, I’m sure, meant them to be witty and breezy, but they turned out to be self-indulgent, mindless and rambling. Here are some examples of what bothered me:

1. During the curricle ride, Turner tried to convince Miranda that she was attractive. He said, “You are attractive. Quite.” Then, “Quite.” After that, “Quite attractive.” Later, “You’re quite attractive.” Was this kind of prose even necessary?

2. On page 92, Miranda “stole a glance at him. He wasn’t looking at her. He wasn’t not looking at her, and he certainly wasn’t avoiding looking at her. He simply wasn’t looking at her.”

3. The part where Miranda talked to her pregnant tummy and threatened her unborn child in the midst of her contractions, really took the cake. She just came across as silly. And why did she try so hard to hide her contractions anyway? Simply because she didn't want everyone to start fussing?

4. In spite of all the good and right things that Turner did, Miranda wanted to hear him say “I Love You”. Which he couldn’t. And she proceeded to get mighty upset with him. Which caused a lot of unhappiness all around.

What I did like about the story were Miranda’s journal entries. At times, Miranda was likeable. Turner, unfortunately, was quite forgettable.

I actually re-read the problem parts of the book with the hope that I would like this story better the second time. I didn’t. I couldn’t help but feel that the whole story had a silly feel to it. I’m sorry I didn’t like it more.

My rating3
Sensuality ratingWarm

I’m sure Julia Quinn has written many better books, or she wouldn’t be as popular as she is today. But just basing on this book alone, I have to say, hands down, Loretta Chase does it so much better – the wit, the story, the characters, the verbal sparring, everything.

If anyone wants to read a fast-paced, well-written Regency story that is witty, smart AND touching, I strongly recommend Lord Of The Scoundrels by Loretta Chase.

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