curvy*mommy's corner

Book Review: Palace Circle by Rebecca Dean

Posted on: March 24, 2009

Palace Circle by Rebecca Dean

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I wanted to like this novel – based on the plot summary, it sounded like a rich, historical novel with lots of intrigue and interesting characters, set during one of my favorite time periods – Britain before and during WWII. However, while the author made a valiant attempt, the story fell short.

The first section of the book (roughly 115 pages), was the story from Delia’s point of view – a young, naive Virginia girl who marries into English high society. Sounds like a story with possibilities, doesn’t it? The problem was that large swaths of time (multiple years) are glossed over with just a sentence or two, and before you know it, she’s got two teenage daughters and a frosty marriage. There was no delving into the character and her relationships – we were just hitting the high points – almost as if it was the Cliff’s Notes version. Not satisfying at all. It was at this point that I seriously considered not continuing with the book.

The remaining four sections of the book are each told from a different character’s point of view, which was somewhat annoying, as we never really discovered each character’s motivations. Each of the characters could have had their own book – particularly Delia, Davina, and Petra – which would have been much more interesting. As it was, much of the book was just overly detailed descriptions of what each character was wearing, or eating. It became so tedious that I found myself starting to skim the text in some places.

The “family secret” that twists its way through the entire story was far too obvious – I had it figured out very early on (before the end of the the first section), and the way it was dealt with became quite over-the-top, with much drama and the requisite big misunderstanding that separates two lovers. Yawn.  

The last section of the book became a military espionage story, which didn’t fit at all with the rest of the novel in my opinion. And of course, the end was wrapped up far too quickly, with the misunderstanding revealed and all the loose ends tied up.

I did like the changes in setting between society London and British-occupied Egypt. I had not read a book set in 20’s/30’s Cairo before, and the author’s descriptions of place were interesting. But they couldn’t make up for the “been there, done that” storyline.

Started: 17-Mar-09 / Finished 24-Mar-09
Advanced Reading Copy courtesy of Random House – Broadway Books

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