Monday, October 11, 2010
Title: Maybe this time
Author: Jennifer Crusie
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Category: Contemporary Romance, Ghost story, Chic lit
Synopsis: Andie Miller is ready to move on in life. She wants to marry her fiancé and leave behind everything in her past, especially her ex-husband, North Archer. But when Andie tries to gain closure with him, he asks one final favor of her before they go their separate ways forever. A very distant cousin of his has died and left North as the guardian of two orphans who have driven out three nannies already, and things are getting worse. He needs a very special person to take care of the situation and he knows Andie can handle anything. When Andie meets the two children she quickly realizes things are much worse than she feared. The place is a mess, the children, Carter and Alice, aren’t your average delinquents, and the creepy old house where they live is being run by the worst housekeeper since Mrs. Danvers. What’s worse, Andie’s fiancé thinks this is all a plan by North to get Andie back, and he may be right. Andie’s dreams have been haunted by North since she arrived at the old house. And that’s not the only haunting. What follows is a hilarious adventure in exorcism, including a self-doubting parapsychologist, an annoyed medium, her Tarot-card reading mother, an avenging ex-mother-inlaw, and, of course, her jealous fiancé. And just when she thinks things couldn’t get more complicated, North shows up on the doorstep making her wonder if maybe this time things could be different between them. If Andie can just get rid of all the guests and ghosts, she’s pretty sure she can save the kids, and herself, from the past. But fate might just have another thing in mind…
Thoughts: The chic lit version of The turn off the Screw. Not nearly as Gothic and with more added baking. I’d call this one more of a ghost story with a side of romance than a romance story with a side of ghost. I read this book last night, by candlelight with winds and rain whipping at my windows. About 3:00am I was dying for a hot cup of tea and a little midnight snack but as I was too scared shitless to leave my bed I suffered through the night snackless and quivering under my duvet. There might have been ghosts in my kitchen waiting to kill me. Specifically the gothic governess ghost who had black soulless eyes and kills by domestic dust storm. That dead bitch was scary.
From whoa to go I got through this book in about four hours. I couldn’t put it down, I had to find out if the ghosts were real, who they were, if they were bad, if the kids were sociopaths, and if the butler… or in this case house keeper, really did it. Fast paced and never boring this twist on the classic tale was both funny and heartbreaking.
The dialogue was witty and natural and I enjoyed its flow a lot. Each character had a distinct voice and the female protagonist Andie was strong and self assured, I like that in a fictional lead. I am not fond of insipid, wishy washy women characters who need a man to save and complete them. Andie was none of that.
Crusie did an excellent job with the children. Their behaviours, tastes, interests and dialogue were all very accurate for their ages, being a seven year old girl and a twelve year old boy. There is nothing worse than reading a story inwhich the eight year old is babbling like a baby or the two year old is conversing like a teenager. She was spot on with these kids.
As much as I enjoyed this book I did have a few criticisms. As with the original gothic classic it was kind of disturbingly suggestive as to what exactly the male ghost was doing in his haunting of the 12 year old boy. Andie did call him a pervert so following her line of reasoning he was possessive of the boy for pedobear reasons. Though how he managed this without a corporeal body is anyone’s guess. Just the fact he was creeping on the boy was disturbing enough. I really didn’t like that part of the book. The story probably could have been told without this aspect, or even this ghost, I think Crusie probably only kept him in so as to strengthen the link with The turn of the Screw.
I felt that the main romantic protagonists, Andie and North did not have that much in common. Besides a physical attraction they were polar opposite’s personality wise, they just didn’t really make much sense. But then opposites do attract, or so they say. The kitchen sex was pretty hot though, oh to have a pantry that large… for the food storage of course. A ten year separation was also a bit of a mind stretch. After a twelve hour engagement and only a one year marriage a ten year separation was a chasm of time. Especially with zero contact that entire time. A romantic reunion would have been more plausible after a shorter time apart I think.
I loved the two little twists at the end with regards to the ghosts. One added a humorous ending and one a bit of a sinister twist. And now we know why the housekeeper dealt herself two hands when playing Gin.