Sunday, August 19, 2012

Review: Keeping the Castle

Keeping the Castle
by Patrice Kindl

Available as: hardcover, Kindle edition, ebook
Pages: 224
Publisher: Viking Childrens Books
Publication date: June 14, 2012
Suggested tags: young adult, historical fiction, romance

From Goodreads:
"Seventeen-year-old Althea is the sole support of her entire family, and she must marry well. But there are few wealthy suitors--or suitors of any kind--in their small Yorkshire town of Lesser Hoo. Then, the young and attractive (and very rich) Lord Boring arrives, and Althea sets her plans in motion. There's only one problem; his friend and business manager Mr. Fredericks keeps getting in the way. And, as it turns out, Fredericks has his own set of plans . . . This witty take on the classic Regency--Patrice Kindl's first novel in a decade--is like literary champagne!"

{ I received this ARC for free as a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. }

Keeping the Castle reads like a classic Austen novel, elegant and proper, but it's got a spunk all its own. From the beginning it's clear that Althea is not going to sit around idly and let fate take its course; she's determined to save her family and their home, and she's going to do it by using her beauty to make a smart match. But Althea is not at all a stuck-up beauty queen; she's merely making the best of a bad situation by using the hand she's been dealt.

There are a lot of fun characters in this book. Althea is a great heroine; she's strong, smart, and takes action to make things happen instead of letting things happen to her. Her stepsisters, Charity and Prudence, are quirky and spoiled, in an entertaining rather than annoying way. Lord Boring, despite his name, is a charming suitor. The banter between Fredericks and Althea is witty and amusing (SPOILER - highlight to read: although you'll be able to see where their relationship is going before they do); the scene at the tin mine was one of my favorites. Miss Vincy was my favorite character; she seems reserved and repressed at first, but she develops spectacularly over the course of the book as you learn her secrets.

The only small problem I had with Keeping the Castle is that, later in the book, Althea slips into an immaturity that doesn't seem to fit her character. She has a lot of responsibility riding on her shoulders, and through most of the book she acts accordingly, but at one point she falls suddenly into a sulking, pouting, "poor me" routine more suited to a much younger girl. She comes out of it as soon as things start going her way again, though.

Keeping the Castle wraps everything up into a neat, satisfying conclusion. While you'll probably be able to predict who will end up with who (for the most part), it's still nice to wait and see exactly how they get there. Kindl's writing brings the period and the setting alive with a vibrant style, updating the Austenian novel for a younger audience. Definitely a recommended read for YA historical fiction fans!

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

{ Favorite Quotes from Keeping the Castle }

"I kept forgetting how ridiculously sensitive and illogical men were. He assumed that his fortune would buy a beauty; I assumed that my beauty would procure me a rich husband. It seemed much the same thing to me, but evidently what was permissible in a man was not in a woman."

"In the weeks that followed our ill-fated journey to the Screaming Stones I would have been glad to exchange my mind for almost anyone else's. I grew so weary of trying to judge who was in the right that I could happily have changed lots with a turnip or a cabbage."

"As exasperating as he was, in an odd way he stimulated and amused me. While he had been away I had felt a certain bland sameness, as though my life lacked a sprinkle of salt and a splash of lemon juice."

"Ah well. He was charming, handsome, wealthy, and titled. I supposed it was a bit much to expect him not to be a fool like the rest of his sex."

" 'A bolt from the blue.' I have sometimes read of an unexpected even described this way, and now I know exactly what is meant by the phrase. A blue sky, a sunny, mild day. The usual list of worries and trouble runs through one's mind, but nothing that cannot be overcome, nothing that will not reach a satisfactory conclusion eventually, if not today, why then, tomorrow. An ordinary day, in fact. And then lightning strikes from out of that innocent blue sky and all that remains in the smoking ruins of one's every hope and every dream."

"What? No! Oh, in the name of all that's wonderful, she's crying again! Stop that at once, I tell you!"

{ Spoiler quote hidden below, highlight to read... }

"Let us agree that we are marrying so we can go on quarreling in the greatest possible comfort and convenience. Oh, please, Althea, look at me. Do say yes."

{ Please note: Quotes in this review are from an ARC 
and will be compared with a final copy as soon as possible. }