Friday, March 1, 2013

Review: Emily Goes to Exeter by M.C. Beaton

Title: Emily Goes to Exeter
Author: Marion Chesney (a.k.a. M.C. Beaton)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Published: 1991
Pages: 160

Rating: 4 out of 10

I'm not sure why I decided to read this book, as it is not really my type of reading. As the corny title and the name of the series suggests, this book does not exactly appear to be anything profound.
And no, it wasn't.

This is the story of Miss Hannah Pym, a middle aged woman who inherits a small fortune from her deceased employer. With her money, she decides that she would like to travel, in the hope of having adventures. On her journey to Exeter, she meets a young lady disguised as a man because she is running away from an arranged marriage. Her husband-to-be is also present, having tracked her down, but assures her that he has no wish to marry her. However, Miss Pym see otherwise, and does her best to pair the two together. She also comes across a widow who is traveling with her crude fiancee, who may not actually be her fiancee, and who also just might be capable of murder. All of this, and a blizzard interrupting their travels, are just some of the adventures that Miss Pym finds.

This little book was pretty much a fluff read, though at some points, I felt a little bit of that truly quaint, English countryside, Jane Austen atmosphere, which I love.
This book is really quite juvenile, and I am trying to think of a reason why I shouldn't recommend it to middle school girls.
Perhaps the only thing that younger readers may not appreciate would be the main character, Miss Pym, being older - about forty.

The entire story is lighthearted, and, like in children's books, there are minor (and of course exciting) calamities that all get fixed up tidily by the brave heroine.

Also, I found the sub-plot about the blizzard so child-storybook, I liked it. There is a blizzard, and all of the travelers are staying at an inn. In the night, the servants go home, but the next morning, they are unable to come back to work due to the snow. So, Miss Pym, who was formerly a housekeeper, goes about ordering the wealthy and often snobby guests to work. A very juvenile theme.

Even at the end, when there are graver matters to pursue such as attempted murder and poisoning, everything remains cutesy and entertaining rather than suspenseful or serious.
I won't even go into what about the plot was badly written, or how realistic the characters were, because, well... Look at the title. Would you expect them to be anything but average?
All in all, this is a cute little story that would be good for a quick read when you want something to cheer you up.

This book is the first in a series called The Traveling Matchmaker.