Keeping the Castle

Keeping the Castle

Althea Crawley is seventeen and determined to marry well.  She must, as she is the sole supporter of her entire family (i.e. her mother and brother; she has two step-sisters but they have their own fortunes which they will not share).  Althea, her family, and her step-sisters reside in a worn-down castle (built by their impulsive Grandfather) that is plagued by rickety furniture, rust, a leaking roof, and a host of other repairs. Perched on the edge of a cliff, it looks as if the whole thing could come tumbling down at any moment. Unfortunately, as Althea lives in out-of-the-way north England, there are few wealthy suitors to be found.  Nevertheless, she has her beauty as an advantage and her frank tongue as a deterrent.

Young, attractive, and to all appearances very rich Lord Boring arrives and opens up the playing field. Althea sets him in her sights – in fierce competition with her step-sisters, Charity and Prudence. Lord Boring brings with him a host of characters, including his cousin and friend Mr. Frederick, both their mothers, and a Marquis (who is a family friend as well).  The party is later joined by the Vincy family, where Miss Vincy is added to the playing field.

It’s a story of determined plans, match-making, and determination.

I did enjoy this book.  It nods to Pride and Prejudice in lively Althea and the whole marriage-hunting business (which is pretty much the whole plot).  It’s a shiny surface kind of book – one without layers or great feeling. Althea is clever in some ways, but extremely blind in others. If it wasn’t short, I think I would find the intrigues a little dull, or perhaps worn.

A tiny bit of spoilers:

okay ready?

It found it pretty predictable that Lord Boring was in fact pretty destitute and in need of a wealthy bride himself. Of course Mr. Frederick, who came over very disagreeable to start, would turn out to be not only extremely wealthy but also possessing of a fine character.  That plot thread was a parody of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, and unfortunately it was not as well executed.  You could believe that Althea and Mr. Frederick were falling for each other – mostly – but it was a scratchy kind of romance.

The only surprise was Miss Vincy, to be honest.

I’m painting a poor picture of the book, because even despite it’s faults I did enjoy it and would probably even read it again in the future. Which is why I’ll give it a 3.5/5 (which is bordering on a 4/5 when you consider rounding anyway).

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult Books

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