Friday, June 22, 2007

To Sir Phillip, With Love

Review of To Sir Phillip with Love, by Julia Quinn:

Another excellently funny Bridgerton novel, To Sir Phillip with Love is the story of Eloise, a talkative perfectionist and spinster. After 10 years on the marriage market and after the wedding of her chubby, quiet best friend Penelope, Eloise is feeling rather desperate to find a match. So she accepts the surprising offer from her pen-pal of one year: he invites her to visit his house in the country, to see if they will suit for marriage. The only problem is, Eloise does not forewarn Sir Phillip Crane that she is coming, nor does she let anyone know she is leaving home. Her arrival at Sir Phillip's house causes all sorts of awkward situations, and she is stunned to learn that he has two children. Eloise stays, however, and slowly comes to know Phillip and his devilish kids.

Eloise is a great heroine, and typical of Quinn--she's funny, forgiving, kind, headstrong, and an absolute romantic. I found her match with Phillip to be perfect. She was just what he needed and, well, she liked him, so that worked out fine. Like most Bridgertons, she was also perfectly self-confident, which is a rare pleasure to find in romance novels.

I adored Sir Phillip, too. He's a rather scatterbrained botanist, and a bit passive in his life. He's satisfied as long as he's not causing harm, and wants a wife to direct both his and his children's lives, and to manage things at home. His struggles with his own parenting skills are beautifully written and heartwrenching to read about, and, surprisingly, made me care about that part of the story. Usually I'm just annoyed by any kids in a romance, but here they really worked.

The novel is simple enough, though Eloise and Phillip are slow to fall in love, and when married, are even slower to find a successful balance. I mean that in the best way possible--it's nice to see the author taking her time in developing their relationship. Quinn also tells the story with such a keen sense of dialogue and social interactions. All the awkward moments are horribly, hysterically awkward. The kids are believably horrible, and the foibles of Eloise and Phillip play out in all of their interchanges. Add to that Quinn's fantastic sense of humor and the many enjoyable scenes with the Bridgerton family, and you've got an A- book.

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