Friday, October 7

Book: The Duke and I, Julia Quinn Click for more info

Initially, the biggest issue I had with this book was the cover. Bright and pink, with a picture of a lady putting gloves on, it was obvious what genre I was reading on my daily commute to work. And yes, I did get a few looks. But all my misgivings and embarrassment went away after I got my first smile from a passing girl. Result.

But this is a book review, not "ways to pull on the tube" (coming soon). It would be easy to assume that, as a guy, I would be gearing up to trash any kind of chicklit and had decided to hate this book before I even turned the first page. I think I can be objective with these things (although many would argue that's not the point of literature), and I'm also open-minded enough to give a recommended book of any genre a try. That doesn't mean I would like it though, and Twilight is still embarrassingly crap.

So then, The Duke & I. The title alone should fill you in about most of the book: set in 19th century England, about an aristocratic community and in particular a woman and a Duke. Heck, if you've seen any Bollywood in the past decade then you could probably guess even more about the plot and the pace of the story.

I have to admit I was gushing over the first few chapters of the book. It, or rather the characters, were funny and sassy and I totally fancied the main character in Daphne. It was way more intelligent than some of the other books I've read of this type and unlike other female authors who think they're funny, Julia actually is.

Alas, just like its Bollywood analogy, the book does seem to suffer from a post-interval crash. All the magic that made it so great at the start gets replaced by angst, heaving bosoms and various kinds of metaphorical (and not so metaphorical) explosions; and even I was made quite uncomfortable by what I can only call pornography (and I thought I had been desensitised by American Psycho). It's a shame because it made the whole thing a little trashy and cheap, but not just because of the rude bits; the chapter endings (which are a bit of a personal bugbear of mine I admit), were a little too leading for my liking.

But as a book it was better than most; at the very least Quinn should be applauded for being literate - I'm looking at you Myers. Actually on that topic and as a side commentary I do think it's as much evidence as Twilight was of how confused and hypocritical women are - apparently reformed rakes make the best husbands. Please.

So yes, I can't quite recommend it unless you're specifically looking for something like this. If you know what you'll be getting yourself in for then you'll probably enjoy the banter and fun, but if you want something a little more sensible and mature and less shallow then you're better off going for something like this or this.