June 1, 2015
Selfish is as Selfish Does
Somehow I overlooked two of Julia London's Cabot sister books: The Trouble with Honor and The Fall of Grace aka The Devil Takes a Bride, so I went back and read them. I'm
I will preface this by saying that both Honor and Grace were shallow, unlikeable women. There are four Cabot sisters, Honor, Grace, Prudence and Mercy. All of these sisters seem to be pretty self-centered, even when they say they have to save their family, it still boils down to "all about me - me - me." Here's the plot for the first two books: it seems that their step-father is dying and their mother is developing either Dementia or Alzheimer's, not sure which. But it doesn't really matter because this is 1812 and eventually their mother would be put in an asylum. At least that's the conclusion Honor and Grace jump to, although I had my doubts that this would happen considering the social order the Cabot's inhabited. Oh sure, aristocratic men would lock up a wife they wanted to get rid of, but a lot of older relatives fell into the category of eccentric and were sheltered away in distant parts of the house or estate. Anyway, the two elder sisters think that their future sister-in-law, Monica, will kick them out of the house and send their mother off to an asylum. Why do they think this? Not sure! This was never explained to me satisfactorily. In fact, I was never quite sure why they disliked Monica so much. Supposedly Monica and Honor at one time were friends. I would have like for this to have been explored better than it was and I have to say I was very dissatisfied with the whole Monica/Honor relationship. I believe Monica was a sort of villain, however, Honor's "plan" for Monica had all the earmarks of villainy, so Honor was not my favorite heroine.
Now, for some reason their dying step-father, who seems to have a great fondness for his step-daughters and is in love with his wife and is also very much aware of his wife's deteriorating illness doesn't seem to be able to financially protect his step-daughters. I didn't understand this. He's capable of thinking, talking, walking, and writing. He is very fond of all of the sisters, so I didn't understand why he was portrayed as being irresponsible enough to let his beloved wife be carted off to the asylum with his passing. It was part of the plot that didn't make sense. There was a lot in the plot that didn't make sense. The elder sisters thinking they would be turned out because of mean ol' Monica was another very weak part of the plot. Especially when she wasn't all that mean. But, then there wouldn't have been a reason for Honor to do what she did so that she could have her HEA. And, here's the noble Honor's plan.
Augustine, her step-brother is engaged to Monica. Now, Monica isn't the most delightful character I've ever come across in a book but she's ok. For some reason, which I don't believe is ever adequately explained, Monica and Honor don't get along. Honor thinks Monica will have her and her sisters thrown out as soon as their step-father dies. So, somehow she must break up the engagement. How will she do this? She will have some Romanceland rake who is just hanging around gaming hells seduce Monica away from Augustine. Did I mention I did not care for Honor? I found her cruel and her intentions were not noble. Augustine was a kind-hearted, not-so-bright guy who truly loved Monica, and Monica cared for him. Granted her feelings weren't quite romantic, but nonetheless, she was very fond of Augustine. So, for Honor to deliberately set out to destroy not one but two peoples' lives was reprehensible to me. So, it was very hard for me to like someone who would resort to such selfish, cruel tactics. And then the "hero" agrees.
George Easton is the illegitimate son of a royal duke. He lives on the fringe of society, never able to be with the "right" people - always on the outside looking in. So, the malicious scheme of Honor's should really open some doors for him. I found George to be as reprehensible as Honor and for that reason they made a good pair. Not only does he agree to seduce Monica away from Augustine, he also seduces Honor out of her knickers, knowing full well that nothing will ever come of it. Why? Say it along with me - "he's not good enough."
In the end I wasn't very fond of The Trouble with Honor. The characters were not likeable, but were quite close to being loathsome. Honor's scheme was not only ridiculous it was cruel. All four of the sisters were portrayed as being self-absorbed and while I realize that we are all self-absorbed, it is only human after all, hopefully we are not as oblivious to the feelings of those around us as these four sisters were. The more I think about this book, the less I like it - so, I'm going to stop thinking about it.
Time/Place: Regency England