So, in honor of Downton Abbey‘s third season airing in the UK yesterday, I read Wentworth Hall which seemed to draw upon the same historical time period. Really, while DA is one of the best shows (or maybe just THE best show) on television, I cannot say the same for Wentworth Hall being in print.
The Darlington family has fallen on harder economic times and they are looking for advantageous marriages, despite the social class upheavals. Lord Darlington, out of some idea of noblesse oblige, has invited the orphaned twins Jessica and Teddy to stay with them until they turn eighteen in a few months and inherit their great fortune. The Darlington children–Wesley, Maggie, and Lila–are all possible candidates for marriage. However, there are many secrets in the hall just waiting for the reader to discover, and no one is as they actually seem or appear to be…
While the ideas in the book might have happened at one time or another, it largely reads as a series of scandals where no one really learns from their mistakes and the characters are rather flat. Reader, you will be entertained, but after reading, you may not be satisfied with the story and handling of the characters. Lots of things seem too easy or too contrived. I know I certainly don’t feel this is a book to cherish forever (unlike my feverish devotion to Downton Abbey). I do believe that Maggie did rather sound a lot like Lady Mary when I first started reading, but no one else was at all similar to any of the DA characters. All in all, this might be a book to entertain you once, readers, but not to ever really pick up again. A shame really, for I so do like British drama.
Rating: Fairly disappointing, but then I have high criticism for books concerning British aristocracy. Read if you must.
In great contrast to the letdown of Wentworth Hall, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks was really a fantastic read. I was up four hours later when I was supposed to be sleeping last night. Frankie is a sophomore at an elite private academy in New Jersey (I believe), and she has just somehow been elevated from harmless, invisible baby sister and geek to trophy girlfriend by one of the popular senior boys. However, Frankie is tired of being valued as a pretty, empty-headed little trophy girlfriend, and she wants to be valued for her brain, especially by this group of gifted senior boys. She takes on a secret identity where she appears to be the leader of the boys/leader of the secret society in the school and sends them on epic pranks to ironically comment on the social atmosphere of the institution and its leaders. Frankie gives an excellent lesson in feminism and in school social interaction. Her comments on grammar delighted me the most, and made it an extremely entertaining read.
Really, English grammar freaks, this is a great book for you, as well as for female readers who want to see evidence of female empowerment. (It’s not a comment on how boys are NOT empowered; it’s just that in this system of “Old Boy” schoolchum-mery, women are excluded, and Frankie wants to change that balance just as women today should keep changing that balance to a more fair one. Gender inequality exists still today, especially in the concept of equal pay. In the same job position, women are frequently paid less than their male counterparts. For more verification and study, take some sociology courses in college if you have the chance. It will open your mind!)
Rating: Great read! Possible buy (for me).