Sunday, August 29, 2021

Ladies of the House

Ladies of the House
  Ladies of the House:  A Modern Retelling of Sense and Sensibility
Author:  Lauren Edmondson
Publication Information:  Graydon House. 2021. 384 pages.
ISBN:  1525895966 / 978-1525895968

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "The brick went through the window on P Street on what would've been my father's sixty-fifth birthday."

Favorite Quote:  "Like my father, someday we'll all be gone. We'll have lived and died within an era, within a chapter - a paragraph? - of a history book. We might not know what the pages will say. Or who will write them. For now, though, we will not worry about what will become of us. We will ask instead: what will the world become because of us?"

Disclaimer:  I found out after choosing this book that it is a retelling of Sense and Sensibility. I am generally not a fan of retellings. That being said, it's been a really long time since I read Sense and Sensibility. In this case, that is a good thing because I can read and enjoy this story independently, without constantly comparing it to the original. In some ways, I suppose that defeats the point of a retelling, but for me, it works better because, frankly speaking, who could compete or survive a comparison with Jane Austen?

The house is a lovely mansion on P Street in Washington, DC. The DC area is unique for national  politics becomes local news. Having spent time in the Washington DC area, the sights and sounds of the city were interesting to see depicted. For me, that was perhaps as interesting as the story of the Richardson ladies.

Gregory Richardson, the man of the house, was a US senator. At the beginning of the book, he has just passed away, leaving behind his wife and two daughters - the ladies of the house. Unfortunately, he has passed aways under dubious, compromising circumstances and left his wife and daughters a social and financial crisis to deal with in addition to the emotion of the loss and the betrayal. "This had been his biggest flaw: he'd clung so tightly to the displays he presumed would make him relevant and needed, and powerful, he forgot about where power truly lay. With us, his family, his wife and daughters, and the happiness and peace we'd found with each other and ourselves."

The story is about what happens next. Given the nod to Jane Austen, romance - unrequited and otherwise - finds its way into this story, but truly, the story is about the women. Cricket, the wife, deals with all of a sudden being the outsider in the Washington DC circuit, but perhaps she is not as meek or as dependent on that circle as everyone thinks. Wallis finds what she thinks is true love, but is it and will it stand up to the pressures of political machinations? At the heart of the story is Daisy, the daughter who followed her father into the political scene, albeit not as a candidate. Beyond the personal loss, she stands to lose her career for the political world hinges on reputation and perception.

Through the heartache, Daisy grows up and find her own voice. She learns an important lesson about people. "People aren't corrupted by power, Daisy. Power just amplifies who the already are." Even more importantly, she learns about herself. "Whatever they thought about me, finally, was not the same as what I thought about myself." Through it all, I enjoy going along on Daisy's journey. I appreciate it most for the message about self-discovery and self-definition regardless of family baggage and outside expectations. That is a lesson many women still need to learn and that still needs to be repeated.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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