Again looking to depart from our comfort zone, Jan and I decided to take up with this quirky story. For us it was in the beginning a slow go, but then it took off in a direction that we had not anticipated and wound up being quite a fine story.
It takes a lot of skill for an author to write a book about children bursting into flames and do it in a way that makes it not only believable, but endearing. I absolutely loved this quirky, funny, and sweet story.
Lillian hears from Madison, her old friend and roommate, asking for a favor. The two have a checkered history, with Madison being blessed with beauty and wealth, while Lillian, having neither, does Madison’s bidding, getting nothing in return. This time the favor is asking Lillian to be a governess to her husband Jasper’s 10-year-old twins, Roland and Bessie. The one tiny problem? The children have a tendency to erupt into flames. The children’s unusual tendency could derail Jasper’s political aspirations so Lillian’s job is to keep them out of sight and out of trouble.
Wickedly funny and heartwarming, I fell in love with Bessie and Roland. Anyone who has children can agree that bursting into flames is an excellent metaphor to describe what happens when children become overwhelmed by strong emotions.
I felt for these children and for Lillian. All three have been damaged by life and what they build together is utterly charming. Lillian is a refreshing character and I loved the way she interacted with the children. She sees something of herself in them. I loved her voice and self-deprecating demeanor. She needs the children as much as they need her.
I found the first 25% a bit slow but once the children appear the story took off. There’s much to say here about family, money, power, friendship, and politics but the themes were delivered with a lot of humor and heart. This was a fun read with substance, one Marialyce and I enjoyed.
A caveat: If you are offended by the f-bomb be aware that according to a kindle search, it’s dropped 211 times in 272 pages. I felt it was so overused it became tiresome. But yet. These characters wormed their way into my heart in a way I won’t soon forget.
· I received an e-galley from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
“Because I kept fucking up, because it seemed so hard to not fuck up, I lived a life where I had less than what I desired. So instead of wanting more, sometimes I just made myself want even less. Sometimes I made myself believe that I wanted nothing.”
Yep, get use to it. There is a lot of dropping the f bomb in this story and for awhile I, too, was going to drop this story right into my dnf file. But, then thanks to the encouragement of my great book pal, Jan, I continued and was glad that I did.
Is this book different. Decidedly yes.
Is this book quirky ? Another affirmative
Did I come to feel for the characters? (well most of them) Yes again!
Perhaps we often feel as parents that we are defined by the antics of our children. We want them to always put their best foot forward for is that not the way we are seen as terrific parents raising children who are seemingly perfect? So what happens when your children burst into flames when life gets too much for them? How embarrassing, how bizarre, how the heck do I hide these kids?
Well for Madison, a soon to be wife of the Secretary of State, it means calling upon her best friend, Lilian, to come to the rescue, for you see Madison’s fiery stepchildren must come to live with she and her powerful husband, after their real mother dies. Quick as a wink Madison has a plan. Let me call my bff Lilian. It’s a bit cheeky really for Madison hasn’t seen or spoken to Lilian in quite some time.
Lilian is a poor soul, so mired in her own inadequacies, that she jumps at the chance to be a caretaker (governess seems too posh for her title) and take on the role of dealing with the children. These poor ten year old twins, have been sequestered away with their mother but now burst upon the scene causing what one can suspect a lot of havoc not only to things in their vicinity, but also to the very public life of Madison.
The children are hidden away in the guest cottage along with Lilian and together they get to know and understand one another. Along the way, Lilian comes to recognize her place in life and that it is next to these very unusual but very loving children.
This book was a great look into the fact that children and all their foibles need to be treated with love and respect. They can’t be hidden away, to be shown only when they are needed. It is a commentary on the wealthy and how often their children are enclosed within the confines of a boarding school, never really becoming a part and parcel of their rich influential parents lives. It is also a tale of the ways of friendship and how far those ties will bind one friend to friend.
Recommended for those who enjoy a witty look at the way others conduct their lives.