Monday, May 09, 2011

Book Review: "An Unlikely Suitor" by Nancy Moser

Summary from Lucy Scarpelli, an Italian dressmaker from New York, befriends socialite Rowena Langdon as she's making her summer wardrobe. It's an unlikely friendship, but one that Rowena encourages by inviting Lucy to the family mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. Grateful for Lucy's skill in creating clothes that hide her physical injury, Rowena encourages Lucy to dream of a better future. One day Lucy encounters an intriguing man on the Cliff Walk, and love begins to blossom. Yet Lucy resists, for what man will accept her family responsibilities? Rowena also deals with love as she faces a worrisome arranged marriage to a wealthy heir. And Lucy's teenage sister, Sofia, takes up with a man of dubious character. All three women struggle as their lives, and those of each unlikely suitor, become intertwined in a web of secrets and sacrifice. Will any of them find true happiness?

Bethany House is on a roll. They've always been my go to publisher for quality inspirational fiction in regards to mixing well written stories with topics about faith. I can always rely on them to introduce me to new authors as well as continue to publish well written stories from my favorites. And Nancy Moser is one of my favorites.

I absolutely adored this book! I am a huge fan of Nancy's historicals and this book joins the rest of them. It's a bit similar to Siri Mitchell's newest, A Heart Most Worthy, in that there are Italian immigrants working in the fashion industry but then the book goes its own separate way. Though there is some romance, this is more of a historical read with lots of facts and information. Moser's writing showcases three different women, two sisters and a socialite during the end of the 19th century and highlights the differences between the rich and working class. The fashion industry in small businesses is discussed as well as showing how immigrants tended to have difficulty fitting into American society. There is also talk about the role of women and their position in the workplace.

Lucy's character is the more level-headed of the sisters. Her first thoughts are for her family and everything she does is to provide for her mother and sister. Even when she is given an upper position that is above her status, she takes it in stride and does not feel that she should boast. Her character fits very well with Rowena who also feels like an outsider at times due to her disability. Even though she lives in a privileged world, she's still not happy with her life. Her and Lucy become friends though there are times where it seems a bit obvious that Rowena obviously knows that Lucy is not in the same class that she's in.

I did get very annoyed at Lucy's sister Sophia at times. Throughout almost all of the book she was quite immature, selfish and spoiled. There were times when I wanted to call her out and be like "What on earth are you doing/saying???" I understand that she was young and jealous but seriously she had no decorum at times and their mother does nothing to reprimand or correct her. However, Moser throws in a twist. Instead of only seeing Sophia from just Lucy's or Rowena's point of view, we see things from Sophia's side of the story as well. There are many times when she realizes that what she is doing or saying is wrong. She regrets actions and words that come out of her mouth. She gets frustrated and feels lonely and jealous. Therefore it's a bit easier to sympathize with her though she still isn't my favorite character and I do think there are times when she gets off easier than she should have.

There is romance in this book as mentioned in the book's summary and it's done very well, but I feel that this book concentrates more on the historical aspect. Included in the back of the book are historical notes that explain what was fact and fiction throughout the story. Moser explains why she included, excluded or fictionalized certain events, people, or descriptions in the book. Since fashion is a big topic in the story, there are also illustrations of the clothing women wore during the time period. All these extras help to give the reader a full experience into submersing into the historical era.

This truly is another wonderful read from Moser. If you've read any of her other historical fiction novels before then you know what a treat you're in for with this book. Well written, well researched and always a pleasure to read. HIGHLY recommended.

An Unlikely Suitor by Nancy Moser is published by Bethany House (2011)

This review copy was provided for a blog tour with the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

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