This is my first Jen Turano novel I’ve read. She can truly write an entertaining story and make a number of very good points. I love the tongue-in-cheek humor and the clever wit that takes aim at the ridiculous, pompous attitude of the snobby element of society to hit right on target to show how wrong such mindsets are. Things like “socially acceptable birth” and “social station” etc. don’t have anything to do with whether or not a person is important and likable. People should treat others like they want to be treated. That’s in the Bible.
Here’s the synopsis from the author, Jen Turano’s, website ~
Miss Harriet Peabody dreams of the day she can open up a shop selling refashioned gowns to independent working women like herself. Unfortunately, when an errand for her millinery shop job goes sadly awry due to a difficult customer, she finds herself out of an income.
Mr. Oliver Addleshaw is on the verge of his biggest business deal yet when the lady he brought to town to assist him with entertaining his potential business partner reneges on their agreement. When this unreliable, and slightly deranged, lady causes the hapless Harriet to lose her job, Oliver tries to make it up to her by enlisting her help in making a good impression on his business partner.
Harriet quickly finds her love of fashion can’t make her fashionable. She’ll never truly fit into Oliver’s world, but just as she’s ready to call off the fake relationship, fancy dinners, and elegant balls, a threat from her past forces both Oliver and Harriet to discover that love can come in the most surprising packages.
I think Harriet Peabody is a wonderful character whom I immediately was cheering for and would want to be friends with. I love her smart, wise feistiness. She is definitely one of the best admirable female book characters I’ve read. Her two roomies, Millie and Lucetta, are also likable and have good characters – and are very unique individuals. I like also that they all care and are compassionate, as are Timothy the driver, the preacher and Abigail Hart and Oliver’s grandfather.
It really is extremely silly the way some people put so much stock into standings and social classes and it really means nothing. Harriet being a “hat girl” as the snobs in the book kept saying, just means that she makes hats. A milliner. I just don’t understand how dumb “society” can be. Someone who actually has talent and uses it successfully benefitting people, including snobs, gets looked down on. I guess the snobs in society are jealous. That Birmingham family was really an awful bunch of snobs. I wanted to get away from them! Poor Harriet and she’d been through so much already. And on her birthday when she should have been having fun.
This novel was a little different for me, because usually, in the books I enjoy reading, the main male character is a favorite right away. Not the case here. Oliver took quite a while to turn into a person good enough for Harriet. I try to find the best in people, and it was difficult to find things to like about Oliver’s character for a while since he was clearly a snob and and had a lot to learn. His unethical business practices were his responsibility and it definitely hurt people. I applaud Harriet (and Jen Turano) for keeping with it and not giving up on Oliver. To give him credit he finally did learn and became a good character who cared about others. Compassion is very important.
One of my favorite scenes is when Harriet is introducing Oliver to some of her friends who are street vendors. Some very funny parts there and Oliver eventually learned. One thing that did show promise about Oliver is that when he first met Harriet he realized that not only was she lovely, but also intelligent and not hysterical.
The mystery is intriguing and enjoyable to figure out by the clues cleverly hidden throughout the story. I wasn’t too sure I liked the twist about Harriet’s identity toward the end of the book, but since that wasn’t why Oliver liked her then I figured that was why Jen Turano wrote that.
I’m a Jen Turano fan after reading this book and want to read more of her writing. I’m glad I have Book #2, In Good Company, about Millie, and Book #3, Lucetta’s story, Playing the Part! Reviews for them coming soon! 🙂 ****