REVIEW: Sally-Ann by Susan Scarlett
The Marchioness’s face changed. … She turned to Ann. “What is your name, dear?”
“Would you mind being Sally for this one afternoon?”
When her boss succumbs to influenza on the day of a high society wedding, perky young Ann Lane, assistant cosmetician at the elegant Maison Pertinax, is urgently called to a Sussex castle to make up the bride, the kind and understanding Lady Mona. Then a bridesmaid falls ill too and threatens the visual effects carefully planned by Cousin Dennis, and Ann (who just happens to be the perfect size) fatefully agrees to impersonate her. She makes a hit-and a considerable impression on the best man, Sir Timothy Munster. Ann slips quietly away at the end of the night, but both Sir Timothy and the glamorous Cora Bolt, who expects to marry him one day, are determined-for very different reasons-to discover her true identity.
Yep, it’s another “Cinderella story” book from Susan Scarlett. The more I read, the more I noticed little details that are similar to her other books I’ve read so far. And you know what? I could care less. I lapped it all up and smiled as I read. I need “happy” and this book makes me happy.
Ann Lane is a hardworking young woman in (date not specified but there is mention of Queen Elizabeth and the young Princesses in Buckingham Palace and it was first published in 1939) London who makes the best of what she has. Later she tells her Prince Charming that she had dreams of being an analytical chemist but when her father’s chemist (US= Pharmacy) shop closes due to competition and the family is forced to take in boarders, Ann let those dreams die and used the money her family had put aside for her education to become a beautician specializing in facials and make-up.
The shop where she works has been in business for decades but the owner, who remembers what it was like before the war decimated Old Money and Standards, keeps up with the times. There are several scenes with all the young women who toil there which shows the problems and issues of the days. Most all of them are good sorts but the cat manning the reception desk is loathed by them all.
Ann is unexpectedly sent down to the castle to do the face of Lady Mona, a daughter of an aristocratic family, who’s getting married. A Crisis arises and Ann helps save the day. At one and the same time, Ann gains a suitor and an enemy. The Evil Other Woman and Prince Charming have grown up together and the families Assumed they would make a match. Sir Timothy has long outgrown any feelings for the Honorable Cora but she’s not ready to let go of her dream and will go to extreme lengths to keep it. So whose vision of Ann will come true, Sir Timothy’s or Cora’s?
Other reviews I’ve read call this “escapist,” “charming,” and historical “chick fic.” Indeed it is all that. It’s a story that, as you read it, you know how it will turn out. But how it achieves those ends … that’s the delight. There are several Fairy Godmothers here, some of whom might surprise you. There’s also (for a few short scenes) a “Disney mouse” character who helps dress Ann in the gorgeous bridesmaid dress and after the wedding in a dress and ermine wrap of Lady Mona (on Mona’s instructions) so that Ann can go out with the rest of the wedding part for an evening of fun.
When Ann realizes that she is interested in Timothy and he appears equally interested in her, she is torn since she doesn’t feel she can tell him what really happened without first clearing it with Lady Mona who, of course, is now on her honeymoon. It’s fun to watch Cora flail around trying to separate Ann and Timothy and end up only bringing them closer together. Oh yes, Timothy knows his heart and that Ann is The One. Trials and Tribulations must be overcome, leading to a dinner party carefully stage-managed by Fairy Godmother Lady Mona. But (paraphrasing) as she tells Ann, “I can set it up but it’s up to you to win the day.”
I love that Ann is not afraid to speak up for herself and thoroughly annoys the work receptionist by not kowtowing to her. Ann also sticks up for others and for what’s right even if it will cost her. There’s a scene at the end of the book that will light the hearts of anyone who has ever had to deal with an overbearing work colleague. Ann is also beloved by her family and the boarders, who know she is special.
Sir Timothy is a sweetheart. Far from being the snooty rich man they fear he is, he easily and comfortably fits into Ann’s family. He comes to the rescue when the family needs him and best of all, he refuses point blank to give Ann up for anyone. Yes, they must overcome some obstacles but then we always knew they would. Good wins, bad is defeated and I finished “Sally-Ann” with a smile on my face. B+