REVIEW: Cinderella After Midnight by Mary Burchell
Time is running out for Elaine to find her perfect match…
Having been orphaned as a child, twenty-two-year-old Elaine Telleen has always been dependent on the charity of her domineering godmother, Aunt Gabrielle.
But when Aunt Gabrielle decides to remarry and move away with her new husband, it seems that Elaine may at last be free to pursue her independence. Hoping to eventually support herself, she begs her godmother to help her enter the working world.
However, Aunt Gabrielle has other ideas. To Elaine’s dismay, she sends her away to an expensive seaside resort in Devon to find a husband. If after three months Elaine is not engaged, she will be left penniless.
Despite her doubts, Elaine soon attracts the attention of two charming men: Roger, a dynamic playwright, and Adrian, a kindly businessman. But even with so little time to secure her future, Elaine finds she must also take care of her heart…
Will Elaine fulfil her godmother’s wishes? Will she find true love?
Or will her romantic holiday end in heartbreak…?
Cinderella After Midnight is a nostalgic, coming of age holiday romance, set in Devon in the 1960s!
Yes, this was written in 1967 and it shows. Well just read the blurb and you’ll see. How many wealthy godmothers would rather send their goddaughters to a ritzy seaside resort with an haute couture wardrobe to snag a wealthy husband rather than giving them the money needed to learn to type and take shorthand even then much less today. Yet in spite of all her pleading and efforts to point out how much more practical secretarial training would be, there Elaine is with a closet full of tailored clothes and three months to get a man.
Luckily on her first night in Bayville she runs across several interesting people: Roger, Adrian, and Mary Durham who once worked for Elaine’s godmother before quitting with the “on point” remark that Aunt Gabrielle soon washes her hands of those whom she can’t manipulate. Elaine met Roger years ago before Aunt Gabrielle (who really does display signs of a controlling narcissist) shut that down. Adrian at first appears gruff and off putting (in other words, we’ve seen his type in Burchell books before), while Mary is the secretary/companion to a well known actress who “lives in her nerves” (Burchell loves an artist).
After he tells her that he’s on the lookout for a rich wife, for some reason, Elaine finds herself confessing to Adrian on what terms she’s really at the resort. He lays out his angsty backstory and (eventually) Elaine can’t help but feel that Adrian has been done wrong and needs a friend to help him. Meanwhile Roger zips in and out of Elaine’s life, demanding all her attention before he disappears again. But while he’s there, he flatters her and whisks her around the countryside to “fish teas” and perfect lunches at romantic inns. Adrian listens to Elaine and, when she wants to start learning how to support herself, loans her his typewriter so she can practice.
Elaine isn’t stupid and eventually starts to question a few things as well as continuing to try to learn some skills with which she can support herself when the three months at Bayville are up and the clock strikes midnight. You go, Elaine. Alas she is only in her early twenties and due to controlling Godmother Gabrielle Elaine is a teensy bit meek and accommodating while also being a nice sort of girl who believes what people she trusts tell her. We all know how that is going to go.
In the end though, Elaine realizes who loves her and who doesn’t. She also delivers quite a set down to the one who doesn’t love her. Yay, Elaine! Will she continue to learn practical things? I hope so but in the end, she finds her man and keeps her couture wardrobe rather than selling it to pay for dictation lessons (which she was totally going to do because she is practical). B