This book was just what I needed right now. It's a frothy, jolly frolic that made me laugh aloud more than once.
Miss Annis Wychwood is a woman after my own heart, and no mistake. She knows her own mind, she's Sensible, and she's Kind and Helpful. She even has a penchant for playing fairy godmother, though it's never put in exactly those terms.
But Annis is also Unmarried and twenty-nine whole years old, which makes her practically Unmarriageable in Regency England. She's wealthy in her own right, not dependent on her brother Sir Geoffrey for anything but friendship, and she wants to live in her own house instead of with his family. So she gets herself a house in Bath, which scandalizes her brother and threatens to scandalize all of Good Society. An unmarried woman simply cannot live on her own! It isn't Done.
So when Annis moves into her new home, she brings along her aging cousin, Miss Farlow, to be her chaperone and prove that she's still Respectable. Miss Farlow's tongue may not be hinged in the middle, but you can't prove it by me. Before they ever reach Bath, Annis and I were both thoroughly exasperated by Miss Farlow, and exasperated we remained.
On the way to Bath, Annis passes a pair of Young Persons who are in need of Assistance. Young Miss Lucilla Carleton, orphan heiress, is running away from home, unaided and unassisted and unabetted by her childhood friend and Not-Fiance, Ninian. I can't remember Ninian's last name. It's okay. He's a ninny, and should thus only ever be called Ninian anyway. Annis takes Lucilla under her wing and into her home, temporarily, until Lucilla's affairs can be sorted out. She's being pushed into marrying Ninian against her will by his parents and her aunt, and she's run away to avoid this. Ninian came along because he's actually rather a brick, and he doesn't want to marry her either, and he simply can't allow her to run away alone because it isn't Done.
Annis makes Lucilla into a Pet Project, or tries to. Imagine Emma Woodhouse ten years older and still taking in Harriet Smiths. Except I really love Annis, and Emma drives me batty. Anyway, it turns out Lucilla has an uncle, Mr. Oliver Carleton, who is actually her guardian, and who is very rude, cross, disobliging, rich, handsome, and possessed of a Very Bad Reputation. He comes to Bath to find out what's going on with Lucilla, and he and Annis get into a series of Extremely Witty Arguments. And everyone knows that a series of Extremely Witty Arguments can only lead to one result.
It really is as if Emma Woodhouse from Emma had fallen in love with Mr. Palmer from Sense and Sensibility. Can you hear me cackling with Glee? I cackled with Glee a good deal while reading this book, I assure you. And chortled. Possibly even guffawed once or twice. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Particularly Good Bits:
"We can't all of us be bookish, can we?" (p. 45).
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-13 for some occasional, mild oaths and some mentions of Mr. Carleton's reputation for dallying with women. Oh, and the word "rape" got used twice, in the context of it being something someone was NOT in danger of.
This is my 12th book read and reviewed for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge this year.