Sunday, April 22, 2012

Partial Review: How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back by Sophie Barnes

As you know, on occasion I amuse myself by looking for Regency novels that are even half as witty as Jane Austen. I know, I know, it is an exercise in futility, but I try. I try really really hard.

In other words, I’m apparently a borderline masochist. Why do I keep punishing myself this way? For the cause, I say. For the cause.

While straightening the new books at work, which had already been straightened but I had nothing to do otherwise, I came across one with an amusing title. “How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back”. Huh. Sounds cheesy, yet amusing. I read the back. Seems poor Miss Rutherford was convinced she was going to marry this one guy, only for him to turn around and propose to her very willing best friend. But that’s okay! She knows a dark, brooding aristocrat who happens to be very rich, extremely handsome, and, of course, honorable deep down inside. The Regency seemed to have an overabundance of those. I recommend a time machine to bring some of those wealthy bachelors to the present so women will stop complaining about “haven’t found my Mr. Darcy yet”.

So, I decided to pick up this book and see if it was funny.

Why? Why did I do this? What foolishness possessed me? Apparently whatever foolishness possessed the author. Luckily I managed to leave off before finishing the whole thing, and some of my psyche is still intact.

Turns out the plot point that kicks off the whole thing wasn’t quite so dramatic. Even though the whole “guy marries best friend” thing is treated as though it’s a deep betrayal, it…wasn’t. Oh, the author tries very hard to make it a betrayal, yet she still fails. See, six years before, this Adrian fellow said to the eponymous Emily Rutherford that when he decided to get married, it would be her. Now, presumably, this was when they were around the age of fourteen. Of course Emily, being Marianne Dashwood on crack, takes this very seriously, spends several months babbling about her love for him to her best friend Lady Kate, then…never talks about it again. Except to her poor sisters. However, supposedly everyone and their uncle could tell she remained in love with Adrian, so when he proposed to Lady Kate it was a terrible, horrible, insensitive thing to do. They clearly didn’t care in the least about Emily’s feelings.

Because they forgot a brief period of time six years before.

Uh huh.

It wouldn’t be so bad if it was implied this was Emily’s perception of the incident. But it isn’t. Everyone around her completely sympathizes with her and the hero chastises Adrian for his lack of gentlemanly behavior. (This is the same guy who, a couple chapters later, starts groping the heroine and making out with her before even asking her to marry him. Yeah, very gentlemanly indeed.) It even goes so far as to have our dear dramatic Emily going to their engagement party, saying that she bore them no hard feelings and wished them well, then turned around and told them how terrible they were and how they could never be friends again.

And it gets worse.

So apparently His Broodship invites the sisters to London, where they stay in a separate house but one that is connected by a door, so they’re not really in separate houses but it’s okay because his crazy old aunt is there. However, at one point, they engage in a tickle fight with him (Jane Austen rolled in her grave a bit) and Emily takes to kicking off her shoes around him all the time.

Oh, it gets much worse.

So while she’s beguiling His Broodship with her stocking’d feet and her exposed bosom (oh those Regency dresses), we also learn several things about her. She’s emotional, she’s dramatic, she’s flighty, she…suddenly expresses a deep love for the writings of Socrates and tries to engage in a philosophical discussion with His Broodship, even though she only gets so far as to say she enjoys Socrates and thinks his writing is very deep indeed.

At this point, I left off, because I knew what I was dealing with. This was no ordinary heroine.

I had somehow managed to stumble across...Mary Sue!

I would direct the authoress to this very amusing essay by George Eliot.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go to the Republic of Pemberley in hopes of acquiring some brain bleach

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