THE PERFECT PROPOSAL
Author: Katie Fforde
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Genre: Romance (chick-lit)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: April 9, 2013
Recommended Reading: AGE+ 17
Received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Contains no spoilers[divider top=”0″]
OVERALL THOUGHTS: Ugh. That is the first word that comes to mind when reflecting upon this piece. The writing was mediocre, the American voice was so British the American characters never really felt American, the story was boring and trite and the characters were (mostly) unlikable. I did, however, like the opening chapters and several moments throughout which saved this book from the dreaded 1 rating. Would I recommend it, possibly to those long-suffering, chick-lit lovers who will read anything that mentions Sex and the City. But, if you like well written books with authentic dialogue and three-dimensional characters, look elsewhere.
SYNOPSIS: In this delicious romantic comedy, a young Englishwoman gets an unexpected proposal from a dashing American, but it’s not what you think.
Sophie Apperly’s frustratingly dismissive family has never taken her seriously, but they do take advantage of her. So when an old friend offers her the chance of a lifetime, she decides to swap Little England for the Big Apple, and heads off to the land of opportunity.
From the moment Sophie arrives in Manhattan, she’s determined to enjoy every minute of her big adventure. And when fate throws her together with Matilda, a spirited grande dame of New York society who invites her to Connecticut for Thanksgiving, she willingly accepts. English-born Matilda is delighted with her new friend—though her grandson Luke, undeniably attractive but infuriatingly arrogant, is anything but welcoming.
When Luke arrives in England a few weeks later, Sophie hardly expects him to seek her out. But Matilda has hatched some complicated plans of her own—and so Luke has a proposal to make, but it hardly seems perfect.
THE LOWDOWN: When I first began this book I found it amusing, not terribly original or well written, but interesting enough to continue. The character is mistreated by her family, but finds solace in an unlikely and cranky older family member. Then, in an attempt to show her family she isn’t an imbecile because she didn’t get a formal education, she decides to up and relocate to New York for a bit so she can earn some money to take a course… any course. She is misguided, misdirected and a walking, talking contradiction. She takes a tremendous amount of abuse, becomes a veritable dumping ground for her family, and has no problem fighting back with words, but never enough to win. Her fight dies right before her point is made and she walks away with her tail between her legs. A self-imposed victim, who is ultimately weak and I don’t like weak.
About a quarter of the way through, she meets a boy… finally, I scream! Only he’s a total ass and not in that sexy way many writers know how to craft so well. No, he’s just a complete jerk. But, instead of focusing on the relationships, the writer wastes my time on unnecessary filler. I suffered through countless pages where the protagonist discusses cooking, plays dress up, goes on thrift store shopping trips, describes the art of making tea perfectly and sewing clothes. The passages were so humdrum I nodded off. Literally.
Back to the boy – or man rather. He was supposed to be a hotshot (rich, of course) lawyer from New York, yet he spoke with a British accent. How do I know? Well he was written by a British woman who didn’t seem to do any research on the American vernacular, so he came off sounding more like a 55-year-old British chap, than a US raised/educated alpha male. No American idioms were used except the old standbys and that was aggravating. If you are going to portray characters from another country, you don’t need to write the accent, but use the lingo.
Finally, I just felt this book was entirely too long and could have been so much better if it was about 100 pages shorter. The story needed refreshing dialogue and organic action, and all the Sex and the City/fashion references made this “romance” read like chick-lit. The characters were one-dimensional with less than dynamic qualities, not to mention the protagonists penchant for rolling over and playing dead at the first sign of conflict. For instance, without giving anything away, in the final act the drama was ramped up a little and there is a misunderstanding that occurs when a less than amiable character sends out incorrect messages. But rather than opening her mouth and setting the record straight, the lead just lets it be and allows everyone to think things are what they are. All she had to do was open her mouth, but she chose instead to suffer in silence. I was indignant for her and found this wholly unbelievable as well as unattractive.
FINAL THOUGHTS: As I said before, if you are long-suffering and love to thrift store shop in books, then by all means pick this one up because you will get pages upon pages of descriptive nonsense. But if you fall asleep during four page conversations about pouring tea correctly, how to rework moth-eaten thrift clothes, with a wonky unidentifiable cast that includes an American “alpha” male who reads like British woman in her 50’s, this might not be your cup of tea.
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