3 out of 4 stars
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Nellie (Cornelia) Entwhistle is not like her subservient sisters. She floats around life with her head in the clouds. While she ought to be cultivating her womanly skills and focusing on attracting a worthy suitor, Nellie is more interested in learning how to be a midwife and flirting with a variety of young men. As a lady from a wealthy and respectable family in the 1850s, Mr. and Mrs. Entwhistles' greatest desire is to find a gentleman from their church for their daughter to marry, but Nellie is not in favor of their repulsive choices.
Unexpectedly, amidst the collection of bumbling simpletons, Nellie is swept off her feet by two alluring gentlemen. Obadiah is intelligent and worldly, and Lawrence is undeniably charming. They are both swoon-worthy choices, but there can only be one. What is a girl to do?
Flirtation on the Hudson by JF Collen is the first book in the Journey of Cornelia Rose series. It follows Nellie as she becomes of age in the 1850s. Readers are transported back in time to Sing Sing, New York, where the Entwhistle family resides. The author did an excellent job of portraying an upper-class family's inner workings, including the importance of faith, and the uncompromising expectations placed on women to uphold their family's reputation by marrying within their class.
At beginning the book, I was inundated with old English words that I rarely discern in everyday writing—this was a learning curve. The characters tended to use words such as "tarnation" and "fiddlesticks" to express anger or excitement. That being said, the book required my undivided attention. I often had to read sentences a couple of times to uncover the meaning. By the middle of the book, I fell into a comfortable reading pace as I began to recognize certain words and phrases.
My absolute favorite thing about the book was Nellie's courage—the unwavering desire to follow her heart. From the beginning of her life, it was quite apparent that Nellie, much to her parents' dismay, was fond of doing things unconventionally, and she was very comfortable coloring outside of the lines. She was chastised for yearning to become a midwife and taking longer than expected to find an acceptable mate. Still, she showed tremendous strength of character by championing for her freedom.
I also enjoyed reading about Nellie being courted by Obadiah and Lawrence, who were both smitten by her. While both men were relentless in their pursuit of Nellie's affections, I couldn't help but root for Obadiah, who clearly had the purest intentions. I found it quite astonishing how dating back then is so different from the way it is today. Potential partners would primarily get to know one another through writing letters. They would sometimes only get to see one another a handful of times before the male would ask for the female's hand in marriage.
Overall, Flirtation on the Hudson was engaging with likable characters, but I found it a tad too long. With thirty-five chapters of mostly dialogue and dramatic soliloquy, getting through some of the pages was an arduous task, and I found myself pining for more excitement.
The book was beautifully written and had no issues regarding spelling or grammatical errors. With that being said, I did have a difficult time connecting to the story, at times, so I have decided to give the book a rating of three out of four stars.
Flirtation on the Hudson is suitable for all readers, and I recommend it to fans of historical fiction. Those who enjoy a strong female protagonist will appreciate Nellie's outspoken nature. Because the book is void of profanity or erotic content, it is suitable for all ages. Still, the outdated terms and phrases used in the book may be confusing for younger readers.
Flirtation on the Hudson
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