For as many disappointing reviews I've seen around of Julia Quinn's newest book, I was surprised how much I really. really liked the whole thing. I shouldn't be surprised though - I am not in the same sphere of people who think Quinn has gone downhill since her Bridgerton books.
I especially applaud this book because it tackles forgiveness in a relationship without the crime that begs forgiveness being infidelity. You know, sometimes it's just that people you love disappoint you in major ways and you have the choice to burn a bridge or find a way to work through it. At the end of the day, I read romance to indulge my belief that people can work through it and come out of the other side happy and whole.
I'm trying to not make my post be about how people give up on their marriages because of the sense that there's someone better out there for them, because that's not what this book is about. I was just really stirred by the fact that this is a love story about people who DECIDE to overcome BIG OBSTACLES.
Richard Kenworthy woos and quickly marries Iris Smythe-Smith under circumstances that he doesn't entirely disclose. In the course of the first few weeks of their marriage, Iris finds out all the troubling reasons why she was chosen and courted and begins to feel...everything. Regret. Anger. Loneliness. Heartbreak.
Look, I get most readers gripes about Richard lying and doing stupid things and asking for too much from Iris. I get it.
But I also get that his situation was impossible, as was Iris' situation, and what I thought was spectacular was the palpable feeling of absolute desperation.
The whole thing, while awful, I felt was beautifully handled and written. There was anger, and heartbreak and tears. I felt a real poignancy to Richards remorse and a genuine fondness for Iris, for her flaws and her courage.
There are very few historical romances that I can really write anything of note about beyond that I thought it was fun and romantic. I want more books like this one - more writing that feels like it gets to the heart of people - complicated people - and explores how you view your own relationships or what you'd do for someone else.
Once upon a time, I simply read romance to see boy fall in love with girl and live happily ever after. But what's the saying? Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt? I'm in a stage in my life where I want a little more teeth - and that's probably why I don't read all romance all the time now. I still love them, and I'll probably always read a fair amount (give or take 100), but I don't want to read a love story that is easy. Because love isn't easy.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love is hard.
Julia Quinn has a real talent for understanding people, and therefore, writing spectacular characters. Sometimes with hilarious results (her pall-mall scene in The Viscount who Loved Me is still, hands down, the funniest, most brilliant piece of writing in a romance to date for me. "I win!" I'm laughing just typing about it). Sometimes, as with The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy, with gut kicking results.
I will gladly read anything Quinn writes and happily put my money where my mouth is...even if that's not the right way to use that saying. (?)