September 14, 2016
“Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door” – Bob Dylan
We now turn to the fifth book in the Bridgerton series – To Sir Phillip, With Love. This one
is a correspondence story – sort of. Remember Eloise Bridgerton from the previous story Romancing Mister Bridgerton? Remember she had ink on her fingers, was sneaking around and disappeared into the night from a party. Well, we get to find out what all the hub-bub was. You see Eloise’s distant cousin died and she sent a letter of condolence to her cousin’s husband Sir Phillip. He responds. She responds. He responds. She responds. He proposes. She accepts – sort of.
Poor Eloise is feeling sorry for herself. Eloise and her bestest buddy Penelope made a pact. They had both reached the ancient age of 28 and were going to be spinsters forever and ever. They were going to do whatever spinsters do – sit along the wall, raise cats, go shopping together. Then what does Penelope do? She marries Eloise’s brother Colin – so much for growing old together with cats. Well, Eloise has never told anyone that she’s been writing to Sir Phillip Crane for over a year – it’s been her own little secret. Level-headed Eloise decides it would be a good idea to pack her bags and leave the wedding party without telling anyone. Then she still doesn’t see the problem with journeying all the way to Sir Phillip’s country estate and meeting him – sans chaperone. Somewhere in her mind she thinks they should get to know each other and decide whether they like each other well enough to marry. That part of her thought process was ok, it’s just the not letting anyone in on it which turns out to be a problem – a bigggg problem.
To say Phillip is a tad bit surprised when Eloise shows up on his doorstep is an understatement. First of all, he had not envisioned Eloise as quite the stunner she turns out to be. He’s quite a nerd – a handsome nerd, but a nerd all the same. He’s a scientist, a botanist; he likes quiet, peace, calm. He’s not prepared for the head-strong, attractive woman who invades his domicile. By the way, he hasn’t had any dippity-doo-hoo in eight years, which means that Eloise is in for some rough nights, days, mid-days, mornings, etc. Phillip sends for a chaperone. In the meantime he and Eloise begin the progress of knowing each other. Eloise thinks she has all the time in the world to do this. I guess she has never read a romance book which has over-protective brothers who were once rakes and are now married.
Did I mention that Phillip has two awful children? These children are close to being “bad seed” children. Anyone ever seen the movie The Bad Seed with Patty McCormick? That’s the movie in which the charming blonde-headed girl burns up the guy sleeping in the excelsior. Well, that’s almost the kind of “pranks” these two do. There is the gluing of the governesses hair to the bedpost - she didn’t stick around long after that. Well, these two kids don’t want any woman in the house. They don’t want a governess, they don’t want a mother – they just want their father. The poor little lambs. Having grown up with numerous horrible siblings, Eloise knows how to handle “pranks”. Of course, she injures herself when she trips over the wire they have stretched across the hallway quite close to the stairway. Oh what little charmers these two are. We do find out that they have reasons for being monsters and then we are treated to some psychological babble exiting Eloise’s mouth. If this was a different time period one would think she trained with Jung or Freud, but that’s a different decade. Phillip's problem with his children is that he is afraid, so he ignores them. His fear is that he thinks he will be like his father and explode into a raging maniac who will beat the crap out of the little tykes. Of course Dr. Eloise explains to him that he isn’t like his father and all is well. And then the brothers show up!
Anthony, Colin, Benedict and Gregory storm into the house to see Eloise’s black eye (remember the wire), assume Phillip did it, then proceed to beat the tar out of Phillip. Well Colin doesn’t – he just smirks knowingly. After Eloise stops the boys, much to her surprise they demand she marry Phillip. Oh my, who would have thought a woman running off, unchaperoned in the 1800s would be forced to marry! Oh, you silly woman, Eloise. So they are married and Eloise has a bang-up wedding night from a guy who has been without for eight years. Knock-knock-knock.
It was during the reading of this book I noticed a Julia Quinn method of writing. Her main characters think a lot - I mean, a lot. They think so much that they lose track of what ever conversation is going on around them. There is a constant, I’m sorry what were you saying or you weren’t listening to me or silence accompanied with embarrassment. Pay attention people! If I hadn’t been reading her books one after another I probably wouldn’t have noticed this little quirk – but I am and I did notice and it became irritating.
Overall, this was a passable read. I was a little disappointed the correspondence didn’t play more of a part in this story. I think if we had been able to read more of the letters we would have had a better feel for the two characters. For me the letters didn’t enrich the development of Phillip or Eloise. I would have liked for them to fall in love with the person in the letters and then develop from there. I think Ms. Quinn was experimenting with this book, which is ok. It’s always nice when an author stretches their horizons, but sometimes even with the best of intentions it doesn’t completely work.
Time/Place: 1820s England