An Accomplished Woman by Jude Morgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I liked this one better than A Little Folly. Maybe because the lead character is one of those politely sarcastic females, dripping their futile world-changing toxins within the constrains of a society that does not allow women to be powerful or single-minded.
Morgan again delights with his writing style and his sharp, observant tongue, which fits so well here because of his sharp, observant leading lady:
"Susannah did not so much sit down as demonstrate sitting down's beautiful possibilities. From the sofa, all full breasts and flowing muslin, she beamed at her children and her life."
"'Oh, Culverton, yes,' cried George, who rowed in and out of conversations with a cheerful disregard for their drift..."
"'Really, I protest--what is left for the satirical mind to invent when reality so surpasses it?'"
"The removal of the first course interrupted, though it did not entirely stop, Mrs Vawser's tireless waving of the flag of personality. She could still subject Mr Durrant to glances, glances away, and sharp suppressions of hilarity accompanied by slaps with her handkerchief: to all of which Mr Durrant presented the same look of a man being turned slowly into stone, and welcoming it."
"Lydia formed a dispiriting impression of a man living within thick walls of self-regard, unpierced by any ray of humour."
"'How do you like the music?' she asked. 'Artificial," he snapped, 'miserably artificial,' and he stared away: leaving Lydia to the interesting philosophic exercise of imagining what music with no artifice would sound like. A man falling off a step-ladder, perhaps, as long as he did it spontaneously, and with no soul-destroying preparation."
While I was disappointed in the typical Regency romance ending (strong woman melting into the arms of reticent and powerful man) I found I rather enjoyed the prospect of two of them making a life together; not an altogether happy ending but an ending that is really the beginning of the story. It's how all books should end.
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