Sunday, April 22, 2012

Quick Review: Ladies in Waiting by Laura L. Sullivan

From the Back Cover:

Eliza dreams of being a playwright for the king’s theater, where she will be admired for her witty turns of phrase rather than her father’s wealth.

Beth is beautiful as the day but poor as a church mouse, so she must marry well, despite her love for her childhood sweetheart.

Zabby comes to England to further her scientific studies—and ends up saving the life of King Charles II. Soon her friendship with him becomes a dangerous, impossible obsession. Though she knows she should stay away from the young, handsome king, Charles has a new bride, Queen Catherine, and a queen needs ladies in waiting.

And so Zabby, Beth, and Eliza, three Elizabeths from very different walks of life, find themselves at the center of the most scandal-filled court that England has ever seen.

My Thoughts:

I think this was a pretty creative endeavor, bringing together three girls named Elizabeth from three very different backgrounds and tossing them together to find their way through the decadence and dangers of Charles II's court. All three girls end up as maids to Catherine, Charles's queen, and form a friendship with the awkward and homesick lady, and with each other. Each of the girls has very distinct personalities and their passions allow Sullivan to delve into some rich historical detail from the time period, including the growing popularity of the theater, the pursuit of scientific knowledge, and the courtly games of romance, sex, and adventure. The treatment is on the lighter side, with the girls giggling over shared secrets, soothing each other's hurt feelings, and drawing strength from one another to defy the conventions that bind them. At its heart it's really a coming-of-age story of friendship.

Sullivan has an easy and often humorous writing style, the characterization is well-rounded, and the story was compelling enough to keep me burning through the pages. But for all that the book was rather light and giggly, the ending was somber and poignant. I think it was pretty realistic, and I give Sullivan props for crafting a story of teenage fun and rebellion that ends with a heavy dose of reality, given that they are young women in a time period where young women have few choices and fewer rights. Some readers may scoff at the frivolity of the tale, but I'm all for anything that gets teens interested in history, and I think this has a lot of appeal for its target audience.

My Rating:  3.5 Stars out of 5

*Please Note: This review references an advance digital copy received from the publisher via NetGalley, and therefore the final published copy may differ. Though I received this book from the publisher, these are my honest and unbiased thoughts, and I was not compensated in any other way for reviewing this book.

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