On The Way To The Wedding, by Julia Quinn
One of the regrets I have about reading this series, aside from reading it in general, is that the novels I read first tended to be the most cliched in the entire series, and that soured my thinking a bit on the author herself. That is not to say that there is nothing to sour one in this particular book, as there are definitely problematic aspects to this plot (more on that below). In general, it may be safely said that Quinn’s plots are contrived and that the heroes and heroines are not nearly as heroic from a moral perspective as the author seems to think that they are. One thing that can be said about this novel in its favor though that raises it above the normal level of Quinn’s Bridgerton series is that if this novel is cliched (and it is), its cliches are at least different ones than the usual ones she has. If there are inappropriate situations to be found here that force people into marriage, here it happens to side characters rather than the main ones. And if the dramatic efforts on the part of Gregory Bridgerton to secure his bride in the face of blackmail have a cinematic quality as far as racing to the wedding to try to stop it from taking place, at least this novel has some good pace to it and does not require the characters to spend months after marrying trying to figure out why they love each other, so if this novel has some flaws it is at least more enjoyable than the median level Quinn novel and that is worth at least a good season on Netflix, I suppose.
I wonder how it is that this novel is going to be portrayed on Netflix in the Bridgerton series, if it is. One of the more notable aspects of this novel is that the entire plot, minus the epilogue, is compressed into a period of about two months where the characters meet cute at an event hosted by one of Gregory’s older siblings where he falls into infatuation with an effortless attractive but somewhat emptyheaded blonde who is infatuated with her father’s secretary and thus unthinkingly cruel to the many men who fall for her. Meanwhile, Gregory himself befriends the beauty’s best friend, a young woman who has been raised by her cold uncle and promised in marriage to a closeted homosexual who is himself an heir to a cruel Viscount who is obsessed with having heirs. Needless to say, hijinks ensue, including concerns about blackmail and some violence. One of the more puzzling aspects of the rather hurriedly patched up finale is that in order to obtain the necessary annulment so that Gregory and Lucy can get together Lucy agrees to find her would-be husband a suitable beard.
One of the more troubling aspects of this book is when you think that all of these events are happening to a heroine who is about sixteen years of age just before her first season as a Regency debutante. This sixteen year old girl, Lucy, is bullied into marriage with a gay man some six years or so older than her when it is reveled that her family is being blackmailed for treasonous correspondence with the French, is seduced by another man (Gregory) about ten years or so older than she is who is old enough to have been pressured to marry for several years by his mother and elder siblings, who finds herself being called to discover her best friend caught in a compromising position with her older brother and also called upon to elope with Gregory and then finds herself chained to a water closet so that she does not disrupt the plotting of her more worldly wise associates, all in a two month period where the fate of her entire life is decided for her. And yet after all of this drama her glorious wedding is not shown at she is next seen giving birth to nine children in a rather short period of time, which must be exhausting for a poor girl.
I’m very grateful that I weaned myself off of Regency and other romance novels quite some time ago. Their sense of morality appears to have gone downhill since I left the scene.
Yes, that’s for the best, I agree. If you want good regency novels you have to stick with those written closer to the actual time period. Georgette Hoyer is probably still good, but more recent stuff is not really up to snuff.