The ton (pronounced tōne, for those American’s who might wonder, like I did, why they would name the High Society of England after a large measurement of weight). Seldom has a set of people so inspired the literary world. From Jane Austen, who actually lived during the period of George IV reign and knew firsthand about them, to all sorts of modern romance writers who only pretend to know the finer details of the time.
Pride and Prejudice is arguably one of the best books in all English literature in that it has stood the test of time and remains one of the most beloved book of any age. Its story is still captivating today despite the changes in technology, customs, and thoughts of the western world. The characters are so real and tangible and their personalities so complex that it makes you want to read it again and again.
Maybe it is this book that inspires so many writers to try and write about the same era…. Alas, many should not. They should give up and do what Gilbert Blythe told Anne Shirley to do: “Write about what you know.” Such is most definitely the case with one of the latest books I read.
When you read a really good book by a new author the next logical step is to see if that same author has written anything else. In this case I wish I never had.
When I read Ruin it was so amazing I rushed out to see what else Rachel Van Dyken had written and it turns out that she is quite a prolific author. I looked through the various titles and finally settled on one of her earlier books: Beguiling Bridget (which she co-authored with Leah Sanders).
This has got to be one of the silliest books ever written! But that’s not the worst of it. Silliness I can stand - one of my favorite quick reads is The Importance of Being Earnest, which is completely silly. What I cannot get behind is poor writing that is also silly. See The Importance of Being Earnest may be ridiculous in every sense of the word, but it is so exceptionally written that I can still enjoy it. It was MEANT to be silly and that comes through from the very first page. Beguiling Bridget… I don’t know what was meant by this one.
The writing is terrible (she tends to use the same words over and over), and there isn’t even the benefit of a good story or even worthwhile characters. The motivations of the characters are all laid out on the table from the very beginning, no mystery or anything to learn about any of them. The plot is completely predictable.
My only thought toward its merit is that perhaps she did intend for it to come across like The Importance of Being Earnest since she did name one of the secondary characters “Wilde” which could allude to the author of the aforementioned play.
All I can say for certain is… if you want to read something by Rachel Van Dyken please pick up Ruin and skip Beguiling Bridget. Maybe I’ll give her another chance and try something else that she has written more recently (she may have learned how to write better by now) and on her own (it seems a lot of her books are co-authored with someone), then again… it might take quite a while to get the taste of this out of my mouth.