Because of Miss Bridgerton, by Julia Quinn
One of the cliches that is often a truth is that our families are often a great burden to our success in love and relationships. Yet it is also true that we are perhaps the greatest enemies to our own happiness. This is not as good a novel as it could have been, The authorial intervention and the intervention of the author and of her stand-ins, namely the parents of the two protagonists, is also more than a little heavy-handed. Yet this book is a reminder of something that is a bit of an unpopular truth, and that is that people are themselves rather dense as to what they want and what is best or them and are often in their stubbornness unable to make good matches for themselves, and so it is those around them that end up driving things along. This does make for rather frustrating aspects of a novel, because neither of the protagonists here are sufficiently clever or have enough self-knowledge to figure out what relationship would work out well, and so other people have to do it. This is, lamentably, a real-life problem as well, but it makes things at least a little less romantic, though.
This book is a somewhat short one at less than 300 pages and also somewhat straightforward as well. The novel begins with one Billie (a nickname much better than her real name) sprains her ankle after having climbed a tree in order to rescue an ungrateful cat and finds herself being rescued, after a fashion, by George Roskesby, the oldest of his family and the only one he can’t stand. Any reader of a romance novel knows a few pages in that these two two are going to marry, and so they do (spoiler alert), but the real point of this novel is to show how this comes to be the case, through the friendly relationships between the two neighboring families, as well as the efforts that are made to throw the two protagonists at each other even though both of them are dense when it comes to realizing the suitability of the other as a marriage partner (they’re so clueless they’re made for each other, obviously). Besides family dinners we have larger parties where people get jealous, and then a trip to London that serves to remind all the people involved of the larger world, before the inevitable marriage happens. There is also a subplot involving one of the Rokesby brothers going missing in America and George trying to exert what influence he can to make sure that his brother stays safe.
One of the more metatextual aspects of this book is that it appears to have been written after many of the novels in the Bridgerton series as a way of connecting the shared world of the author together. There are a lot of moving parts in the author’s vision of the Regency world, and a lot of connections between different families. Also, some of the families involved are rather big, and the author chooses to make a novel of each of the figures in these families–so, for example, every single Bridgerton child, all eight of them, get a novel whose point is to marry them off to someone suitable. Imagine if this happened in Jane Austen, for example. We would have another two novels at least to dispose of all of the Bennet girls, and perhaps others to marry off Georgianna and Miss Bingley (if the author was feeling charitable). There would be a sequel to Sense & Sensibility to marry off the youngest Miss Dashwood, and then there would be a bunch of novels to make sure all of the Moreland children as well as Fanny’s siblings were married off, with characters from one novel appearing in others as well. Yet this book appears part of a large shared universe project, and if you like that sort of thing, this book does connect the prolific Bridgerton family to others, at least.