Friday, October 7, 2011
Houghton Mifflin, 2011
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I've seen reviews of this from both ends of the spectrum, positive and negative, and I think your enjoyment of this book ultimately boils down to how you feel about epistolary novels. Those feelings will determine if you enjoy this book. Happily as a lover of epistolary novels, I am in the enthusiastic lover camp for this book.
There are eight perspectives, told in different forms, from letters to memoirs to plays. And although that sounds like a lot (it did to me), it didn't seem like that many when I was reading. Each format was distinct enough that I always knew who was talking and was able to trust or read with skepticism as some are unreliable narrators. My personal favorite character was Trudy, the flame-haired maid whose memoirs tell her part. She has the sight and is very important. I also loved the sly cat Escoffier, because obviously. My least favorite character was Wisdom, also known as Dizzy; she was rather ditzy and annoying for much of the book. And not to spoil anything but if Trudy's your favorite character, then since some of Dizzy's actions hurt Trudy, Dizzy will not be a favorite.
Two other notes are first that this is sort of a companion novel to Princess Ben, containing a few of the same characters but in a different time period. Second the copy I read had a small dictionary at the end as well as an author's interview. I loved that, getting to see her process, and picking up on some additional humorous touches relating to the story.
Recommended for lovers of epistolary novels, fairy tales, and whimsical humor.