“I would prefer a sword to fight duel, but a pen to plan a war.”
Read in March 2016
ARC kindly provided by the author, in exchange for an honest review ~
My Rating: 2,75 of 5 stars
Minor spoilers below
Finishing this book resulted in an excruciatingly long inner battle. I almost put it down many times especially in the first half of it.
“London, August 1839”. The first words of this book were just what I needed. I love the Victorian era in London. It is my favorite period when I wish I would have lived, and Clockwork Princess, one of my favorite series takes place during this same period. When I first read the synopsis, I was like “all right, a book dealing with feminism, but written by a man, it sounds promising, not common, I love this idea. I think I can love this book”, that is the reason why I accepted this ARC.
Let me present to you how this book starts: Lilly Linton is an avant-gardist. She lives at a time when Ladies are supposed to behave properly and not question men, wear beautiful gowns, and being invited to balls hoping to be spotted by the most eligible bachelors in London. But she doesn’t see it that way. She only wants one thing: FREEDOM. She is what they called a “suffragette” (btw this word was created in 1903, so 65 years after this book), fighting for girls’ rights and liberties. Her main fight: giving women the right to vote. This book begins with Lilly, dressed like a man, with her uncle’s clothes trying to enter the pooling station. On her way, she overhears a conversation between a businessman and gives her advice to one of them who is about to make a risky investment. Satisfied with her help, he decides to hire her, convinced that she is a promising young man. To Lilly, it is a dream becoming true, what she has always wanted; to work to be able to earn money and then to be free from marriage and other obligations toward men. However, she is discovered while trying to vote, and taken by policemen. They are bringing her to the station, she is exposed to her new employer but nonetheless, she tells him that she will be at work the next day.
“Knowledge is power is time is money.”
This first chapter got me like: this book has so much potential! It seemed that the author did a lot of researches on the subject and the period. But the more I kept reading, and the more I kept thinking that he doesn’t have a true perception of the womankind. To him, every girl except his main character is satisfied with her lower consideration (or at least they don’t care), they are not asking questions and they are following order. For instance, when Lilly tries to speak about politics to her sisters, they say ‘Oh, leave us alone with your talks of politics and adventure stories and God knows what else, Lilly. We’re too busy with serious talk to be bothered with your nonsense (aka gossips in that case).’
The main character was badass at first, but then she started to be childish, stubborn (not in a good way) and hypocrite. To me, both the author and the MC mixed feminism and hatred toward man, which made the book a little bit clichéto me.
Moreover, the author beat about the bush too much. The book was slow-paced, we had to wait until 20% to have some sort of a story, and at least 50% to have an interesting book. Some parts were awfully repetitive (please put me out of my misery and stop telling yourself that you have to stop thinking about him already!!). It could have been cut in half and still have enough information and in the end, be less boring.
What I liked about Lilly though was her independence and how fierce, loyal and smart she was (sometimes). We get to see more of that in the second half of the book. She gets back some badassness and I liked that a lot. There are a few scenes that I truly loved in this book, one of them being the ball when Lilly had to pretend to be courteous. It was so much funnier than smart-mouthed-90’s-teenager Lilly and I think that it would have been interesting to have more of that.
I also loved to imagine some scenes like for instance the secretary in a hoop skirt, and also loved the bar scene. I really enjoyed the love interest and the tension which was often palpable between the two MC. I was like “kiss already!”
However, I have to wonder if the author has ever been drunk in his life… Lilly seemed more under the effects of drugs than anything else… But it was one of my favorite scenes. Two last things to add;
• The French Island:
WTH? Mainly this whole book was full of anachronisms but here, I really don’t know what happened in the author’s mind. This scene is a total rupture of the writing style. It is full of prejudices and absolutely wrong (basically most things about French were). This is what French girls were wearing at the beach in 1875 (37 years after this book takes place).
• The ending:
I will have elaborate nor comment on that except that to me it is almost plagiarism. Will understand those who have read this book (at least those who went to the end of it).
Update on December 14th 2016
I initially accepted this ARC because of the book plot as well as its high rating. It wasn’t that good for me, but out of respect to the author and his work, I forced myself to the end.
This November, I’ve noticed that this book came second on “Goodreads Choice Awards 2016” in “Romance” with more than 44.000 votes when this book has only less than 10.000 ratings in total. I didn’t pay that much attention back then.
It all really started a couple days ago, when around 10 new people liked this review, all of them had no friend, no rating except for Robert Thier’s book, all voted for the book for the “Romance” category and all account were created in Nov. 2016. I went to see the top reviews and noticed that all the positives ones were massively liked by the same kinds of profiles as well. The same kind of profiles came up when I sorted the rating by “newest”. Hundreds of accounts possibly created with the only purpose to inflate Storm and Silence’s rating.
I don’t want to imply anything, so I let GR support know and let them make a decision accordingly.
However, today, I saw Holly’s review. It basically says the same thing, except that it goes further (quote from the author Wattpad for instance)
I really hope that we are both wrong, nonetheless, I needed to write about it.
Have you read this book? What did you think about it?