Monday, July 29, 2013

Book Review: A Pretty Age by Barbara Mueller

ISBN: 1449779557
Published: January 7th, 2013
Publisher: Westbow Press
Synopsis from publisher:
In 1910, a missionary visitor arrives at Sophiny Mumm’s convent boarding school in Concord, Kansas. Sophiny is smitten. Her best friend Antoinette Dominguez is not—and begins a series of strange behaviors breaking all the rules. In an ensuing investigation of puzzling enigmas, Sophiny has to use all the resources of emerging women’s rights, family relationships, social networks, the new technologies (telephone, photography, and transportation), and patron saints. A Pretty Age exposes the violence still underlying the Midwest’s supposed civilizing forces at the turn of the century (1910) through the emergence of two convent boarding school students into a world where weapons may have changed but the danger remains.

It's a bit hard to describe A Pretty Age for me.  I guess describing it as a mystery book is the best way.  Sophiny's best friend Antoinette disappears from the convent school that they both attend.  Antoinette has been telling Sophiny that she plans to elope, and while this puzzles her, Sophiny isn't very worried about her friend at first.  Then, as time goes on and Antoinette isn't found or heard from, Sophiny begins to get worried and starts looking into things.  Things get a bit dark as she starts uncovering what has happened to Antoinette.

I wasn't too fond of this book.  I almost put it down about halfway through, but just as I was about to give up, the plot picked up enough that I kept going.  Still, I skimmed large portions of the book because I wasn't a fan of the writing style.  That's what kept me from getting into it.  The entire book seemed to drag on, and I felt like what could have been told in a few sentences was instead elaborated into several paragraphs.  It made it difficult for me to read and enjoy the book.

It really is a shame because the plot itself was intriguing, and I feel like I would have enjoyed it a lot more if the writing style had been different.  However, there were some aspects of the story I liked.  It had a very interesting setting.  I don't know if I've read any books set around 1910, and if I have, they certainly didn't take place in Kansas.  It was also really unique that a large part of the story takes place at a convent school, which is a setting that I've definitely never read about.  There was also quite a lot of talk about feminism and what was happening in the feminist movement in 1910 that I really enjoyed.  There are many strong female characters in this book, and that definitely helped me get through the book easier.

While the writing style made it difficult for me at times, certain aspects of the story were enough to make me still enjoy A Pretty Age okay.  I think there are definitely people out there who would enjoy it, but it's not for everyone.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the® <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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