I won this book in a giveaway either at Goodreads or from the publisher on Twitter.
Miss Maeve Fanning comes to work at an antique dealer’s shop after a complicated past. Her young life has already met failed love and more, but in the shop she finds a something to latch on to and a chance to start over. Meanwhile, uber-rich Diana Van der Laars also has a complicated past for such a young woman. They become friends and things get more complicated.
Maeve naturally is captivated by Diana’s seemingly suave brother and is entranced by the Van der Laars lifestyle. The glittery parties and exotic nightclubs selling illegal liquor in the last year of prohibition held her attention even more than the artifacts and antiques she was selling by day.
So help me, I kept picturing Princess Diana, whenever Diana was in the story. Maybe because the Princes had just said their mother was the “naughtiest of parents” and that word “naughtiest” suited this fictional Diana just as well.
What I Liked:
“One often meets one’s fate on the road one takes to avoid it.” (p. 266).
I loved the story of the antique store and its fascinating owners. I enjoyed Maeve–or “May” as she now calls herself and her harmless flirtation with the largely absent owner Mr. Winshaw. I also thoroughly enjoyed Maeve’s mother and her well-earned knowledge of fashion and how clothes are made and should fit. That reminded me instantly of my mother. I enjoyed, too, finding South Africa as a country of origin–something not often found in a novel about upper-class society. I also loved Andrew (no spoilers).
I liked Maeve’s thought:
“I thought of my own past, layered with different versions of myself. The tricky part wasn’t the roles you played, but which ones you ended up believing yourself.“
I liked all the ways people tried to guide Maeve. Given other P.C. elements, I was pleasantly surprised that a Catholic Priest was taken seriously in the story:
“Well, aren’t you going to tell me what God wants?” [Maeve] prompted.
“I haven’t a clue what God wants for you, Maeve. He doesn’t talk to me about your life–he only talks to me about mine. If you are interested in what he has to say, you’ll have to listen for yourself.” (p. 266)
I also thought the story did a commendable job of portraying mental illness–especially addiction. Often the “cure” suggested does work well for people. Especially those who cannot stand to be alone. I especially liked this line:
[The therapist] “explained to me–that people who aren’t afflicted as I was wouldn’t comprehend the lengths I had to go to.” And that the therapist’s attitude was “strenuously positive.” (p. 274)
The description of the withdrawal from a substance was well done and very realistic. In my personal life I am currently watching someone go thru this–it really spoke to me for its accuracy.
Call me old fashioned but I also thought the dating advice she got from older women was really good. As a parent I’ve lived thru more dating drama than I ever thought could happen in one lifetime. Why? Because when I gave advice like in this book it was ignored!
“A man needs to meet the family sooner rather than later. After all the family is what matters! The family tells you everything you need to know about the person. The family is what is left after the roses fade…..All your life Mae, ….you love to live in storybooks and movies. …. But life is no fairy tale. When you meet a man, you have to think, not just feel. Where they ocme from, where they’re going, what they believe…” (p. 303).
But, of course, I am supposed to follow Meave–the heroine, right? Here is her thought on this:
“She didn’t understand. I came from nowhere and had a past not even I wanted to know about.”
You guessed right if you thought she believed she’d just been “unlucky.” Ah youth…
The older lady sums up perfectly:
“They look for roses when they should be looking for indoor plumbing.”
Not romantic? No, but lifelong which matters more?
What I Liked Less:
The story felt chopped up–even the opening. Like some small parts of the story had been cut to meet an arbitrary page count or that some parts of the story were cut to make room for the now seemingly obligatory P.C. story lines. These were very minor, but for the most part added nothing but modern day self-righteousness to the story.
One big mistake
I kept reading “Declaration Day.” (p. 284). Is this a now forgotten Bostonian holiday? I’m pretty sure it is DECORATION Day that was meant. Today it is called Memorial Day. Honestly? A Google search would have fixed this. If I am wrong, I’ll happily print a correction.
Verdict and Rating
In spite of my quibbles with this book, I can’t wait to read more from this author! But, sadly, I have to give this book 3.5 stars for the choppiness alone. The P.C. bits crammed in aren’t big enough to take the rating down, I’m just utterly sick of them.