REVIEW: The Courtesan’s Daughter by Claudia Dain
Dear Ms. Dain:
Ned and I read your book a while back and decided to create some lego stop motion animation videos to reinterpret our thoughts. I know, we took some heavy license with the story so here’s our proper review.
Lady Caroline Trevelyan is the daughter of the late Earl of Dalby; the sister of the current Earl; is fair in form and face; and is very wealthy. Girls like her have no problems making brilliant matches unless your mother is an infamous former courtesan. She has come to the conclusion that she was unmarriageable and she wanted to be married; to be loved and adored like her mother.
“The same could happen to you and for you. You are your mother’s daughter.”
Yes and no, and that was the problem. She was Sophia’s daughter, the daughter of a former courtesan, and therefore her pedigree was a disaster. And yet, though she was Sophia’s daughter, she had none of her fire, certainly none of her mystique, and most definitely none of her experience. Fully intentional on her part, on both their parts to be honest, yet it left her in the strange situation of being chillingly proper and completely unacceptable in the same instant.
Lady Sophia Dalby recognizes that her past has tainted Caroline’s future and sets out to buy her daughter a husband. She chooses Lord Ashdon, the son of a former nemesis of hers. Lord Ashdon has been gambling away money he doesn’t have in order to exact a revenge that his father had dreamt up. Ashdon was shaking his head before Cal had even finished. “I cannot. His hurts, his wounds, are mine.. Ashdon, however, isn’t prepared for either Lady Sophia nor her daughter Caroline.
Caroline, however, having lived in the shadow of her mother for all her life, refuses to have a husband who was bought by her mother. Caroline is spoiled and immature. She has difficulty understanding what she wants. She only knows that she sees her mother as the most desirable creature alive and herself as less. Caroline decides to be a courtesan, not really comprehending the serious repercussions of such a decision and thus rejects Ashdon. Ashdon is in the humiliating position of being bought by a woman he doesn’t respect, turned down by the daughter of a woman he doesn’t respect, and therefore sets out to make Caroline his courtesan. Only to have Caroline come to her senses and decide that she wants to be a wife but only if Ashdon properly woos her.
Ned and I agree that while there are no sword fights, there is plenty of action in this story. Part of the enjoyment was watching every character move from one position on the chessboard to another and then look back to wonder how they were moved. It’s a story about strategems and bedroom machinations, of manipulations, both overt and so subtle that the reader is never quite sure of what is being orchestrated by Lady Sophia and what simply falls in her lap like a ripe plum.
Ned’s specific thoughts were that you didn’t waste his time with extraneous words or scenes. While the cast was big, they all played a part in the consummation of Caroline and Ashdon’s relationship. He loved Sophia and thought she was very shrewd. It made sense for her to be so savvy about the emotions of individuals and what drove them because only a very sharp woman could use her beauty to elevate herself to such an exalted place in society. Finally, he liked that while the book had him guessing at several points about what would happen next, it never was written to confuse or trick the reader. B+
Jane (and Ned)