November 3, 2016
Somebody out there write a new book!! Let me rephrase - somebody out there write a new book that I like.
So, I'm still on a quest to find a book which is new and which grabs me right in the first
pages. Sorry to say, I have put a number of books down lately because the oomph just isn't there. Is it me? In order to answer that question I have turned to a number of my older books for comfort and answers.
The Secret, by Julie Garwood. I remember this book with fondness, so let's see if it stands up to the test of time. Written in 1992 by Ms. Garwood (before she turned to the dark side - contemporary/suspense), this has always been on my list of favorite books. The Secret starts with two little girls - Lady Judith Hampton, an English girl, and Frances Catherine Kirkcaldy, a lowlander girl. They meet when they are four years old at a fair. Judith "saves" Catherine from a bee sting and from then on they are fast friends. Even though they see each other only once a year, the promises they make to each other are never forgotten - and the secrets are never divulged. Years pass. Frances Catherine is married to a highlander and about to give birth. She's isolated, in need of a friend and very afraid. She wants Judith there by her side to help her through the birth. Her husband, Patrick, wants to make sure that his wife has everything she wants. But before he can send for Judith, he must ask permission from the council to bring an English woman into their village. You see, this village of highlanders don't need anyone, they don't cotton to outsiders and they especially don't need no stinkin' Sassenach miss. Enter our hero, Iain. Iain is not only Patrick’s brother but also the highland clan Laird. He forces the council to concede and travels to England to retrieve Judith. He knows (because he's sooooo knowledgeable) that Judith will refuse to return with him. Silly man, he's never read a romance novel.
While I enjoyed revisiting this book, it had the feel of a book written in the nineties. The guys are all giants - they are big big big. They are stubborn, they are always right and they pat the little women on their itty-bitty heads while all the time smiling in a condescending manner. They also expect to be obeyed without any explanation. There is also a suspension of belief surrounding our heroine traveling sans chaperone through medieval England, Scotland. So, there were some annoying problems for me this time around which were not there in 1992. You know in the whole scheme of things, 1992 isn't all that old, it's only 24 years ago, but for me to really enjoy this book I had to keep reminding myself that it was an older book. What I found gloriously refreshing 24 years ago I would not find so today.
I would have to say that The Secret is a classic romance but an example of a writing style which may be just a little dated. So, it's rather hard to review this book. The reason it's so hard for me to review this book, is that once upon a time I loved the characters in this book so much. Judith was spunky and Iain was domineering. They were fun to watch and listen to. So, it is one of those good old books which I have a fond memory of and made me love romance so much. There will always be a warm fuzzy place in my heart for The Secret. Now having said that, if I were to judge this book by my current standards I would have to say there isn't much to it. There's hardly any character development. Oh sure, the main characters are feisty and combative - but Judith is tooooo naive and Iain is too omnipresent. I didn't really understand why he was the way he was.
Overall. I smile because The Secret is a classic romance novel and should have a place with other classic romances. If you read this one or any of Ms. Garwood’s early works, remember they are a reflection of the time period they were written in. There is not as much care given to historical accuracy and not enough story development to overlook those inaccuracies. It's always interesting to read an older book - sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I loved this book long ago, so for that it will retain its special place. I don't think it holds up well against today's writing.
Time/Place: 1100s Scotland
Classic Brain: A
Current Brain: C