The Story: Although wealthy and spoiled by her beloved father, Marguerite Westing is none too keen on her mother’s plan to see her married – to the one man Marguerite cannot stand. Roger is a perfect gentleman but where she craves adventure, Roger is so staid he could make almost anything usually boring seem interesting. When her father makes plans to take his wife and daughter to Lake Manawa in 1895 Iowa, Marguerite is thrilled whereas her mother horrified at the mere thought of sleeping outdoors! During their say, the spunky socialite discovers sailing… and the handsome instructor, Trip Andrews.
Suddenly all is right in Marguerite’s world and things seem to be looking up. She could marry Roger Gordon if she is given this one last summer of freedom… or she might find she is losing her heart to the sailing instructor. Then her father’s habits threaten to ruin the family name, and everything nearly comes crashing down around the family. Will Marguerite do what is right to save the Westing name? Or will she trust her heart?
My Thoughts: Bored. That is what the normally, clumsy, blonde-haired spitfire socialite Marguerite Westing is. The spunky heroine feels trapped in her world despite having everything at her disposal – including her father being wrapped around her little finger – all of which is about to change! Despite the fact that our heroine is bored stiff by a suitor who is crushing her free spirit – a guy who makes watching paint dry seem interesting, we honestly can find nothing about the story with which to call it “tedious.” Its first chapter starts great and this fabulous, comical and whimsical “fairy-tale” that new-comer Seilstad fashions into historical settings, rich with detail and the grand characters easily keeps us delighted – and most of all, wishing for so much more! Possibly even that it would never end.
Before even ten pages into this novel, I was giggling at the fabulous humor. Make no mistake; Seilstad has a witty way with pairing up words that made her manner unmistakably humorous. It wasn’t hard to find the joy in her writing and through that, her characters and dialogue sparkle. Marguerite is one memorable protagonist. It can seem that most of the girl’s personality begs to be questioned because, let’s be honest; she is a bit of a fib. We, along with the traumatized Trip (read: guy-with-a-past) wonder if she is being honest or simply saying what the other person wants to hear. That all changes when she realizes that she cannot live a lie – principally through her own recognition that she cannot say “yes” to the one man whom she not just find boring but have come to fear, and it is not because she is being dishonest to herself but to God. About a quarter the way through the novel it takes a stab at throwing in some mystery with a 180-personality change in Roger, after that, it is obvious who the villainous traitor is going to be. Frankly, I didn’t think that was “necessary” to further the plot. Boring Roger still had the makings of the dude we did not want to win Marguerite’s hand – he didn’t have to go to the dark side to be an annoyance. Had it been absent, the book would have just been a sweet, summer read irrespective of the few clichés or stilted dialogue, but it would have been an altogether delightful read. There is a hint of mystery in Marguerite learning the father she adores is not all he seems, something that leads to a contrived end that shouldn’t have been.
Everything concludes really neatly (perhaps a little too perfect) by the time the last page is turned, but it’s a lovely first visit to the charming region of Lake Manawa. Don’t miss out on it! 4-out-of-5 star read.