Monday, November 27, 2006

Book Review: The Deception of the Emerald Ring

Let me start off by saying that I have no idea why this book was titled the way it was. There was only really one mention of an emerald ring, and I guess in a very convoluted way it could be attributed to a deception, but I personally think it's very weak. Willig's other two books, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation and The Masque of the Black Tulip were much more accurately and descriptively titled.

But that's okay, because I still liked the book! I'm going to be honest there though and admit that I enjoy Willig's plots much more than I do her actual writing style. Her books are a series set in the early nineteenth century, after the French Revolution. Basically she takes a chapter out of Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel because her books are about a band of English spies during that time period that picked up where the Scarlet Pimpernel left off. Each book features the historical story, as well as intermittent chapters about a modern heroine, Eloise, who is an American Ph.D. history candidate doing research on that very topic in London. I really enjoy the chapters on Eloise, who has a crush on an Englishman who is a descendant of the one spy who's identity is well-known. Willig is quite cruel in the way that she slowly, slowly strings that story along throughout the books. I want to know more and I want to know it now!

I meant what I said earlier about Willig's writing, though. There is something about it that I just don't like, but I don't think I could pin down what it is. Sometimes I feel that her dialogue is too modern for something that supposedly took place two-hundred years ago. And other times I wish there were more dialogue because her descriptive paragraphs seem to go on and on. But probably my biggest gripe is that I often miss key points because they're buried within other boring and unimportant stuff or because her descriptions of what's happening is just plain confusing. (Let me add that I realize she has more writing talent that I could ever hope to have.)

Yet I still really like the books, probably because they're set during really interesting times and the characters are fun and enjoyable. The Deception of the Emerald Ring was no different. I should add though that I wouldn't recommend reading this book unless you've read her other two. Even I got confused about who did what and was who in the previous books because it had been a while since I'd read them.

Lindsey's Grade: B+

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