Sunday, April 13, 2014

What I've Read Recently

What I've Read Recently . . .

The Affair at the Inn by Kate Douglas Wiggin, Mary Findlater, Jane Findlater, Allan McAulay --Historical Romance

A group of very different travelers meet at a country inn in Dartmoor in England. There's the lively American girl Virginia Pomeroy and her semi-invalid, hypochondriac mother; an older woman, Mrs. MacGill and her companion Cecilia Evesham. Rounding out the little group is Sir Archibald Maxwell Mackenzie. It's very dull and gloomy in Dartmoor and the travelers are the only ones at the inn. Mrs. Pomeroy and Mrs. MacGill are happy to stay indoors and complain about their various (often imagined) ailments. Sir Archibald Maxwell Mackenzie only cares about his motorcar. Virginia is determined to get a ride in the motor and sets out to charm Sir Archibald. He fears her exuberance and energy. He knows little about women and cares even less about them. Over the course of two weeks the characters get to know each other and have adventures together.

The plot moves at a pretty slow pace. There are a couple of episodes of adventure but otherwise the story is mainly the internal thoughts of the characters. Each of them relates the same scene from their personal point-of-view to give us a complete picture of what happened. Sir Archibald is the only one who really has any sort of deep thoughts or feelings. The story didn't really capture my attention.

Each of the authors wrote for a different character. The best known author, Kate Douglas Wiggin, wrote the part of Virginia Pomeroy. Virginia is young and full of high spirits. She's bored which makes her rather annoying in her behavior towards Sir Archibald and his motor. She's very wealthy and hasn't had many difficulties in her young life which gives her a sunny outlook. Mrs. Pomeroy isn't a main character but she seems to be in poor health and also a hypochondriac. She's not on page very often so she manages not to be as annoying as Mrs. MacGill.
Cecilia on the other hand, is burdened with the care of a crotchety old woman and has been made old before her time. She suffers from her own very real health problems and an employer who is too selfish to care about anyone else. Cecilia seemed the most interesting character. She shows a little bit of change for the better as the story progresses, but her story is cut short because she's not the main character. Mrs. MacGill is a selfish, mean spirited, awful old woman. She's always sticking her nose in and correcting what she sees as the improper behavior of the young people. In HER day, young ladies didn't act like Virginia. She's so self-absorbed she knows and cares nothing at all about where the Pomeroys are from and where they are going. She has no sympathy for her companion and is demanding and difficult. Sir Archibald is the opposite of a romantic hero. He's shy and stiff and sometimes a bit rude. Out of all the characters, he's the only one who exhibits any growth.

The first edition of the book contains some lovely mezzotint drawings by Martin Justice. They don't fit my image of the characters but the pictures of Virginia really show off the fashionable clothing styles of the day!

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