Greetings fellow nerdgirls!
Well, it only took me about one and a half months to get started on the Meg Cabot challenge, but start I did! Part of the reason it took me so long was that I had to wait for the books to come in from Largo, Florida! Yay Interlibrary Loans!
For my first post, I’m reviewing both Where Roses Grow Wild (’98) and Portrait of My Heart (’99). As far as I can figure out, these are the very first two books that Meg had published.
So first a recap. Where Roses Grow Wild is about Pegeen and Edward. Funny story. I was talking to the undergraduate student who works in my lab part time, and she read the back cover for the book and was all, “Pegeen is a horrible name. Why would she give her such an ugly name?” And I had to struggle not to laugh at her. Not because I thought Pegeen was a good name. I agree, Pegeen just sounds silly to me. But because ultimately, the name Pegeen turned the student off of the book completely. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a name and then dismissed a book because of it.
ANYWAYS. Back to Pegeen and Edward. So Edward is basically this lazy rich guy who has to be a duke, which apparently was (is still?) a big deal back in the day, unless he can find his long lost nephew of his dead brother. He finds him, but the 10 year old boy, Jeremy (also called Jerry, which confused the crap out of me for a few chapters because I thought that it was a mistake before I realized it was just a nickname. But I’ve never ever known a guy named Jeremy who is also called Jerry) won’t go with him to become a duke unless he can stay with his aunt, Pegeen.
So Pegeen and Jeremy/Jerry go with Edward so that Jeremy can learn to be a proper duke. But before Pegeen will go, Edward totally has to give a bunch of money to the town’s prostitute (Jeremy and Pegeen’s town that is), so that she can take a year off after having given birth to her nth number child (I forget how many children, something in the teens I think). Also Pegeen almost cuts Edward’s finger off or something. They have a little fight, Pegeen cries a little, they make out.
Basically the whole book is about Pegeen and Edward fighting and then making out and having sex, etc.
I have to admit, I really had to push myself through this book. I like romance in my books, but I don’t think I enjoy straight up romance novels. Which is kind of what this book was. The good thing though, is that Meg wrote it, and so it has feminist issues peppered throughout it. That was awesome. I thoroughly enjoyed the parts of the book where Pegeen was being all badass and trying to push Edward to see things from a woman’s view. The downfall for me was when Pegeen was like, “Oh, but he’s so hot! Tear my robe off!” I wanted to give Pegeen a little shake. Also, there is no falling in love for the characters. It’s instant love from the moment they meet, which I just don’t buy. A little more work, please! Also, Pegeen and Edward’s conversation about how they felt about each other got a little too repetitive for me.
Portrait of My Heart is kind of like a sequel to Roses. It starts off when Jeremy is twenty two and then fast forwards five years. Jeremy returns home after having killed another guy (in a duel (why was there a duel? Because Jeremy totally slept with this girl and then her brother demanded that Jeremy marry her and Jeremy was like, um, no, I paid you to sleep with her already)) and getting kicked out of school for it. He’s turned into kind of a dick. Kind of like a mini-Edward before Edward met Pegeen. I was disappointed by this, because judging from Where Roses Grow Wild, Jeremy should have turned out better. So anyways, 22 year old Jeremy returns home and is jumped on (literally from a tree) by the neighbor girl, Maggie Herbert. Maggie was five years old in Roses. Now she’s seventeen. Much is made about how much Maggie has grown. Her melon sized breasts are mentioned many, many times. Jeremy and Maggie go make out in a barn, Edward interrupts them, sends Maggie home, and tells Jeremy that he hasn’t done anything to earn Maggie.
Later that night, Jeremy proposes to Maggie, Maggie freaks out, Jeremy leaves and enrolls in the army and goes off to India to do manly heroic things. Maggie is sent to Paris to study painting, much to the chagrin of her entire family except for her awesome mom.
Fast foward five years, Maggie is 22, Jeremy is now 27. They can totally have adult sex now without it being weird. Jeremy comes home to London despite the fact that he is malarial. Pegeen wrote to him to let him know that Maggie has gotten engaged. Maggie is in London, trying to start her career as a portrait painter. Jeremy and Maggie are staying under the same roof which is horrifically inappropriate and oh my! what will society think.
Turns out Maggie got herself engaged because her mother died and at the funeral, Maggie found out that Jeremy had been awarded the Star of Jaipur by the maharajah, which meant that Jeremy got himself a pretty pretty princess to marry and that meant Maggie, who had loved Jeremy since that scandalous day in the barn, had been forgotten. Turns out, the Star of Jaipur, is actually just a stone, and Jeremy isn’t really marrying a princess. And he’s going to win Maggie back!
But wait! There really is an Indian princess! Princess Usha is totally nicknamed the Star of Jaipur, and her uncle, the maharajah, totally did try to get Jeremy to marry her. But Jeremy was like, “Nope, I’ve got this girl back home.” But The Times, which is the best newspaper in the universe, is never ever wrong, so everyone was all like, ooooh, Colonel Rawlings is marrying a heathen princess. Awesome. Princess Usha has followed Jeremy to London, most likely with the hopes of marrying him anyways.
So what ensues pretty much throughout the book is Maggie and Jeremy having relations, even though Maggie is super engaged to this french guy, and Jeremy is kind of a dirtball because he’s all, “But I’ve earned Maggie.” Also, there’s a scene where I felt like Maggie should have been all, “Um, you just raped me,” because she wakes up to Jeremy having sex with her, but instead she’s all like, “Yes, this is awesome.” And I just can’t.
The good part of Portrait, was totally the feminist part too! I felt like it was more direct in the issues though, because it was more specifically about how Maggie should totally be a painter if she wants to be. Also, Maggie’s friend, Berangere, was super awesome. I felt like Lana would totally have been Berangere if Lana had been 1) French and 2) lived in the 19th century.
So all in all, I enjoyed the books enough, but I don’t think I’ll ever reread the books. I mean, I would read them again if they were the only books I had on hand and I had nothing else to do, but I’m not going to actively check them out or buy them. You get my drift.
I know Amber read Where Roses Grow Wild. What about the rest of you? Thoughts?
P.S. Next up, An Improper Proposal! Which I will also have to get through the interlibrary loan. So it may take a while. And good thing, because I kind of need a palette cleanser. Also I have a ton of books checked out that I really need to finish. I’ve got The Cinderella Society on the iPad and Unspoken in book form. I’m not really loving TCS, but so far I’m like 5 chapters into Unspoken and Sarah Rees Brennan, please let’s be besties because you’re amazing!