This is a three star in the opposite of some of my other three stars. Normally this is the kind of book I would really like — a kind of sassy or interesting young British girl dealing with her friends and family while navigating her own feelings and her growth as a person in the world. And for the most part I did like this book, but it felt like it came up short for me.
So like I said, this book is a lot like a lot of other books like it. That sentence sounds kind of dumb, but it makes sense to me as I look for reasons why this book does or doesn’t stand out. So like with Barbara Pym or Elizabeth Bowen or Muriel Spark or Sybille Bedford, we begin with Olivia preparing for a local dance. She lives in the middle of nowhere with her family and sister and she’s looking forward to one of the only events of the season, the upcoming dance. They invite a boy from another town, wait for his reply, and then ultimately go to the event.
The novel is split into three parts, before the before of the dance, getting ready for the dance, and the dance itself. It’s structured almost like a movie might be, with three acts and a little wrapup, and not a lot of downtime or messing about. There’s simply the three main stages: setting up the main character and the stakes of the novel, an interlude where tension builds, and then the event.
It’s a charming book and has a lot of the same feelings and elements as I Capture the Castle, but it never quite lands for me.