Author’s Note: Sometimes I write villains who are subtle and nuanced. This is not one of those times. The Terrible Nephew is terrible, and terrible things happen to him. Sometime villains really are bad and wrong, and sometimes, we want them to suffer a lot of consequences.
I received this novella as an ARC and this is an honest review.
Mrs. Bertrice Martin is a wealthy widow of 73 who is bored and depressed. Miss Violetta Beauchamps is a poor spinster of 69 who has just been sacked. Mr. Robert Cappish is a Terrible Man who is the nominal reason Miss Beauchamps has been sacked and the Terrible Nephew (and only living relative) of Mrs. Martin. Violetta appears on Bertrice’s door step to collect on Terrible Nephew’s TWO YEARS of unpaid rent, which she intends to keep for herself. Bertrice does not want to make his life easier by paying his debts, so she proposes instead that they make his life miserable and then she will give Violetta an agreed upon sum. Violetta, having been sacked just shy of earning a pension, needs the money. They set off for London and embark on an adventure to make a terrible man’s life miserable.
The Terrible Nephew may not be subtle, but he is more of a catalyst than a true roadblock to Bertrice and Violetta’s happily ever after. The true roadblocks are the wealth gap between them and their own insecurities. As they become partners in crime, they come to see each other. Somewhere over choirs, geese, toasted cheese and chocolates, they fall in love.
Milan plays in that space that has always existed for women – the space between patriarchal expectations of how women are supposed to behave and who we really are as individual people. The tension is whether the Terrible Nephew will prevail, as many men have, by virtue of being a man, or if the presumption that two elderly women could not possibly be so clever will work in their favor.
Maybe men are all bad—I won’t grant you that, but maybe they are. But if they are all terrible, then they are also so incompetent at ruining women like you and me that there is always hope. They can’t take our joy away, and they’ve tried.”
Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure comes out tomorrow. It’s a delicious bon bon to be savored in this time of terrible men getting away with being terrible.