Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Review: A Change of Fortune {ARC}

A Change of Fortune by Jen Turano
Comedy of manners meets comedy of errors.
Click the cover to buy

This book was highly praised by a friend of mine, and the cover looked beautiful and very high-end and professional.

Before I start being a Debbie Downer, let me point out that there were moments when this book had me laughing out loud.  So it's not all bad... just mostly.


The story premise was good.  The writing was not.  Everything felt choppy and confusing, and there were several times when I had to take a break or reread something just to understand what was going on.  I really struggled with visualizing the story.  It felt like I was reading a first draft, where just the bare bones are scribbled down and explanation or description is lacking.  The parts that did contain explanation or description came across as ridiculous, info-dumping, or both.

The characters didn't seem realistic.  There was way too much jumping around - one minute Eliza's blinking back tears, and then one sentence later she's grinning, and two paragraphs later she's furious with someone.  (Repeat. And again. Another time. Let's go backwards now!)  The dialogue felt forced, pretentious, extravagant.  The language was flowery and old-fashioned, but to the point where it seemed ridiculous.  As the quote goes, there were several places where a ten-cent word was used and a five-cent word would be better.  (Something like that.)

The time setting was odd and imbalanced, too.  There was a huge amount of snorting, hissing (she's not a cat!), quirking brows, muttering, and rolling eyes, which felt all wrong for both the writing and the time period.  Then there were other points that were written fine but didn't fit the characters or society.  Instead of listing those myself, I'll direct you to two other Amazon reviews that put it exactly right:

"I think the author was trying to keep things high-spirited and fun, but it only made the characters seem too modern, both in speech and actions (such as the overuse of `snorting,' eye-rolling, and under-the-breath muttering in supposed women of refinement - and I couldn't imagine any high society woman of that era having trousers on, even under a skirt)!" ~Stephanie

"There is so much about our time, and our way of thinking in this story that one can almost imagine it taking place in the 1950s or 1960s, especially the part about the girls being arrested for prostitution. While I am sure that this could be possible, the horror of it happening to two young women who were more used to the parlor than the seedy part of town is not fully explored. The surprise of harlots being on the corner is just short of shocking to the reader given that the house the young women are going to is supposedly of very high caliber. The reader must untangle from the incongruence before jumping back into the story flow." ~ Gina Burgess

Basically, I feel like this was a great idea that was published before its time.  I think it could have been so much better with revision and maybe a tad more research - like it had great potential but wasn't edited to its best.

I give it 1.5 stars.

I received this book for free through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program in exchange for a review.  All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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