Sunday, March 22, 2009

An Accomplished Woman-Jude Morgan

An Accomplished Woman
Jude Morgan,
St. Martin’s, Apr 14 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 0312539665

Years ago Lydia Templeton caused a scandal when she rejected her neighbor Lewis Durrant’s offer of marriage as filled with pride she preferred her studies though she knew prejudicial society scorned a single female choosing learning. She since serves as her widowed father’s host and eludes her married brother’s efforts to find her a spouse. Now thirty, Lydia’s godmother Lady Eastmond asks her to do a favor as her Henry is ailing. She wants Lydia to chaperone her ward Phoebe Rae through the treacherous waters of high society in Bath. Unable to say no to the kind elderly woman, Lydia reluctantly agrees.

Mr. Allardyce and Mr. Beck try to court Phoebe Rae, making Lydia's chaperone lifestyle even more unbearably boring as the twit won’t choose between the suitors insisting she loves both of them. Worse Durrant is in town seeking a wife while his wastrel nephew Hugh Hanley the heir is also in Bath insuring his patron wealthy uncle does not do something foolish by marrying and begetting an heir. When Lewis and Lydia meet, they make a bet over her chaperone duty and his bridal chase.

With obvious homage to Jane Austen, AN ACCOMPLISHED WOMAN is a delightful romantic comedy of errors filled with humor and twists as nothing quite works as expected for seemingly everyone. The cast is solid even tertiary players like the stereotype moms of the suitors. With a wonderful fast-paced story line filled with spins, Jude Morgan provides an amusing nod to Pride and Prejudice as the heroine’s time in Bath makes her wonder whether she truly is an unaccomplished woman as nothing goes according to plan.

Harriet Klausner

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