1 out of 4 stars
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I will be honest I was apprehensive about reading Mistress Suffragette, a novel by the author Diana Forbes. I have not had much luck or enjoyment while reading historical fiction books. While reading the description I learned the main character was a young woman “without prospects”. I believed, from that moment, that I was set in motion to unravel a story about a pitiable girl wanting to fall in love and become a real respected woman.
Because I too was once a young girl wanting to fall in love, I decided to take another chance and read the book. I was hoping to be surprised in the storyline and with the characters themselves. You never know what a story can hold within the pages.
The book began with a party and the main character, who arrived in a carriage to the Memorial Day Ball. I wondered from the start, how could I find sympathy or a connection with such a character? If she were to be pitied without any prospects then perhaps she would not arrive to a ball in a carriage. Perhaps she would have no dress to wear, her feet would be dirty and she would not be invited in the first place to the ball. But, she was. Thus, I can’t feel upset for her, I’m sure there are others much worse off who can’t complain about their prospects attending a ball. Her family attends the ball with her and they are described as not well-to-do people. Penelope’s parents want her to find a suitor and she feels completely embarrassed to be in her situation. As the novel progresses Penelope becomes involved in a married man, attempts to save face and breakaway to find happiness.
It seems as the chapters progress Penelope is trying to be a strong character, but perception weighs heavily upon this novel. It’s hard for Penelope because she comes from a family without much and she is not much herself, “Selling of me was the aim. Not an easy feat-considering that I was too tall, too red-haired, a bit gangling, and as bruised on the inside as a bad apple. (Just don’t let them see those bruises…” Throughout the novel I could not stand the main character while she thought so little of herself. I was also not a fan of the author using clichés such as the bruised apple. The main character just wishes she could have had another life, that her father business could have survived and society respected her. I did not respect her, for her complaining. She complains about being ugly, but has several men that approach her. She complains about never being chosen, but she often is. Later on in the book is another example when she is in New York, “Had I been chosen? I glanced at the other four women on my couch. Was Amy Van Buren really beckoning to me?...Yes, it was true. I was moving up…”
I learned more about the characters throughout the story and I did not like how they developed. I could root for her to find happiness and love, but it was cringe worthy to read of her thoughts and acts. As a mistress offered an apartment and an allowance, Penelope made me wince. She was unable to admit the reality of how her affair with the character Edgar Daggers really was. Questioning physical abuse, countless illegitimate children and ridiculous social standing, I could not connect with the plot, purpose or characters of this book. Because I could not relate or enjoy the story, I rate this book 1 out of 4 stars. I would recommend this book to young girls. I would recommend this book to fans of historical romance and fictional novels. I would not recommend this book to any male or to any female who cannot stand to have empathy for a fictional character that thinks she has it bad in life.
I am glad I read this book and I am glad that I gave it a chance. But I was not pleasantly surprised, as I had hoped I would be to find myself unsympathetic to the story.
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