[Book Review] The Game and the Governess

The Game and the Governess / Kate Noble (Powell's Books)

An interesting combination of good writing and some rather dis-likable characters.

The (incredibly self-assured) Lord Ashby is challenged to a wager by his friend and secretary, John Turner.  That much of Lord Ashby's "luck" (particularly with women) is all due to his station and very little due to his qualities as a person.  If Mr. Turner wins, Lord Ashby will award the funds needed for Mr. Turner to fix his family's mill.  If Mr. Turner loses, he loses the mill.  The stage for their game is two weeks spent out of town hammering out the sale of Lord Ashby's childhood home.  There they each learn quite a bit about the other's station and about themselves.

There are really few pleasant characters in this book, particularly at the beginning.  Both Lord Ashby and Mr. Turner are rather insufferable, and the family (and all their lady guests) are short-sited, petty, and self-centered.  Even the townsfolk are a bit much.  In the first few chapters the only characters I have any fondness for are Miss Phobe Baker and her two young charges (actually, I take that back, the valet is a fun minor character, and the horses seem nice too).

As the book progresses both Lord Ashby and Mr. Turner lose some of their smugness and self-satisfaction, which makes them a bit more likeable.  But it's not really until the end when everything hits the fan that I found either sympathetic.

I have nothing to say against Kate Noble's writing style, I think she wrote a clear tale.  I think that a large amount of the dislike I felt towards her characters was the intended response.  It just was just too much of characters that I couldn't stand, even if they were running towards comeuppance and redemption.

Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of NetGalley; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.

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