Saturday, May 5, 2007

"The Secret Pearl" by Mary Balogh

“The Secret Pearl” by Mary Balogh
Nov, 2005 Dell Reprint
ISBN 13: 978-0-440-24297-0

The Secret Pearl” is a page turner. It’s not a typical Victorian romance. It goes beyond that. Fleur, a young gentlewoman, forced by circumstances into a dreadful position retains her dignity and meets the man who helps and who eventually loves her. Adam and Fleur are incredibly complex characters.

I read this as quickly as I could, taking time before work and at lunch time and at night to finish it. I could not leave it alone. And, I cried. I had to go get a whole box of Kleenex to have at my side for the last part of the book. Mary Balogh is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers. This is one incredible book.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The book is indeed hard to put down once you start to read it, but I really had a big problem with Adam; he did not convinced me that he is such a 'romantic hero' and that he really loves Fleur. Putting aside that fact that he willingly hurts Fleur at the beginning (despite the fact that he realizes at first thrust that she suffers; but does he stop? No. He only continues 'swiftly'=violently!!!), he is never really repetant for all the pain he has caused. He has some (a small amount though) of guilty feeling, that he puts fast aside once he finds a position for Fleur. He helps her indeed in getting a less hurtful life, but he is never convincing as a person in love. I mean, everything he does is well motivated by a certain feeling of guilt he feels, and by the fact that he is 'an honorable' man and tries to do always the 'honorable' thing (as he did it for Sybil as well), but as I see it, he would have done exactly the same for anyone in Fleur's situation. Therefore, there is nothing he really does only for Fleur, because she is who she is and because he loves her; it's just helping another person in need, who might have been anyone in fact.
Now, if he had had nightmares about his guilt and about what he had done to Fleur, if he had put his pride aside when dealing with Fleur (e.g., last scene), if he had convinced her (and the reader) about his reasons to have been so cruel in the first chapter, then I would have probably managed to like him. But he does not seem to realize even until the end that he was indeed cruel and he marked Fleur for life in an awful way; he never finds Fleur's repulsion much justified and he imposes on her much too much. And he does say at some point that he recognized her as the love of his life at the first sight. And this is how he treated her (at the beginning), a woman clearly starving and scared? God helps Fleur in her future with him if this is how he treats the women he loves.
And what about the non-sense of 1 year apart at the end, without much insight of how he has felt during their separation, if he really missed her as she missed him, or if it was just some occasional yearning, as I got the feeling. In fact, I got this feeling that Adam would have managed very well without Fleur without much pining or ache; he was fully motivated by what he thought to be 'honorable', but from the beginning to end he remained a cold, distant and rather harsh man. Which, unfortunately is not what I look for in a romantic hero.