So. Lucy opens the door one day to find her mom all skinny and bedraggled, only it’s not her mom, it’s her mom’s long-lost twin sister Helen who has been raised orphan-style while Lucy’s mom married rich. With so little deliberation that you think something sinister is going to come of it (it doesn’t), they accept Aunt Helen into their home and try to ‘My Fair Lady’ her.
And there’s a certain writing style that just makes me stabby, where you’re trying to sound all period-piece so you say ‘sought’ a lot and refer to people being ‘in their seventeenth year,’ but it’s SO DISTRACTING and kind of awful and then I can’t even tell if your writing is good because I’m hung up on how much I hate this.
I begin to suspect your writing is not, in fact, good when you say things like ‘sleep finally came and awake thoughts ceased’ what? You mean ‘waking thoughts,’ right?
Also, too many words to say a thing. And not like Ugh, descriptions! Because I like descriptions. And I’m all for sacrificing a racing plot in the service of luxurious writing. But literally TOO MANY WORDS. Like, ‘”I want to come with you.” I spoke to my father without thinking first.’ Why not just ‘”I want to come with you,’ I said without thinking.’ Quibbles, I know, but a mountain of quibbles will crush you just the same.
Or, after Lucy has been caught eavesdropping on the stairs and been sent to her room she spends a whole paragraph telling you that she goes right upstairs without eavesdropping again because she has already tried that trick tonight (you may recall) and she is more likely to be caught at it now.
And the author’s fingerprints are everywhere on this. They get a new tutor to train Aunt Helen (and, ostensibly, Lucy, but we know who the real ignoramus is here) and halfway through the lesson he says something solicitously to Helen and Lucy is all, ‘In the short time he had been with us, he had already been changed much by her presence’ even though FIRSTLY they only just met the guy, and SECONDLY she is very illustrative of how the tutor doesn’t treat Helen like a hobo from the moment he gets there, so I don’t get how he is ‘changed much.’ And I get where she is trying to go but you have to go there, you can’t just tell us you’ve gone there.
A page later she refers to Aunt Helen’s hilarity as ‘such a rare thing’ when Aunt Helen has been laughing her ass off since page one.
And then FINALLY halfway through the book one of the twins is gruesomely murdered and I am like, Sweet and the not-murdered twin is like, I am the twin that is your mother, and I’m like, Clearly that means you are not. But then some few pages later Lucy is all, Oh! This is not my mother at all but in fact Aunt Helen and also I am ok with this because I can see why she’d try to steal my mother’s life, and I’m all, Right so now I’m fairly sure it is your mother since whatever you think with <150 pages to go is probably wrong, but also what? How is this all ok?
Also, there is a romance with a boy and it is the usual He Is A Legitimate Asshole And Then They Fall In Love And She Forgets About The ACTUAL ASSHOLEY THINGS HE DID etc and the only good thing about that bit is that he gets typhoid.
Fun, right? But at no point do they caulk the wagons and float across the river. Missed opportunity, that.
Ho hum. I read it all because I wanted to find out if it was or was not Aunt Helen, but I was tearing my hair out the whole time.