Monday, June 30, 2014

Book Review: "Bittersweet" by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

"Bittersweet" by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
First published in 2014
400 pages
My rating: 3.75 out of 5
(image source)

I really liked "Bittersweet," as evidenced by the fact that I blew through it in four days. The story -- of old money, dark secrets, and a summer spent lakeside in Vermont -- was captivating, but there were a couple irksome issues that kept me from falling in love with the tale.

Mabel Dagmar is a slightly pudgy, slightly frumpy dry cleaner's daughter, while her college roommate Ev Winslow is her polar opposite: wealthy, sophisticated, beautiful and sleek. When Ev invites Mabel to spend the summer at her family's Vermont lakeside retreat, Mabel can't say yes fast enough.

Mabel is entranced by the world of the rich she encounters at Winloch -- private beaches, priceless artwork and inhabitants with first names like Birch and Gallway and Banning. Low on self-confidence and crippled by family issues and the memory of a horrible thing from her past, Mabel hurls herself into the goal of becoming a part of the Winslow clan. When a rogue old aunt offers Mabel her precious lakeside cottage in exchange for recovering something the family stole from her, Mabel jumps at the chance to have a place at Winloch for life and immerses herself into Winslow family research. But she stumbles upon a handful of dark secrets in the Winslows' past and present, and Mabel must decide whether to do what is right or what will guarantee her a lifetime of summers by the lake in Vermont.

Mabel was a strange character -- intelligent and quick-thinking, but also naive, desperate to belong, clingy and sometimes spineless. It doesn't take long for Mabel to sniff out that something is fishy about the Winslows and she quickly discovers things that would make most people catch the first taxi to the airport and say goodbye and good riddance.

But Mabel is so incredibly obsessed with digging into the family's past and with being accepted by the Winslows. Why???? Why does she put up with being treated so poorly, why does she abide being lied to over and over again, why does she remain after learning sickening things about the people in cottage next door? I just could not understand her burning desire to be one of the Winslows -- they're written as horrible, condescending, snobbish, immoral people. I wish the author had given Mabel more of a vested interest in the situation -- maybe she was a woman who had just married into the family? I just couldn't see why Mabel-as-written should care.

Still, I enjoyed the writing and the fast-paced story. And, though I found Mabel to be deserving of a good, hard shoulder-shake more times than I could count, the characters were interesting and vibrant, the unanswered questions kept me turning pages, and I loved the rustic setting of a cluster of seculded family cottages on a lake surrounded by woods in Vermont. I'd say "Bittersweet," is a solid summer read -- preferably to be enjoyed sitting on a towel with one's toes in the water.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by! Comments make my day, and I read and appreciate every single one!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...