The Frost Fair, by Elizabeth Mansfield

>> Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Last week I read a book by new-to-me author Elizabeth Mansfield (interview with the author), The Frost Fair. I'd never heard anything about it, but I once bought another Mansfield book online and the seller included this one as a bonus in the package.

Lady Margaret Underwood enjoys her single status--yet if she isn't married in five months, she'll lose her entire fortune. The man she chooses is determined to remain a bachelor, but Meg has never backed down from a challenge before and she's not about to start now!
I'm not usually into Trad Regencies, but once in a while, reading one feels refreshing. They'll never be my favourite genre, and I should probably never try to read even two in a row, but I was in the perfect mood for The Frost Fair, and I enjoyed it. A B.

At first both protagonists were not completely likeable, but both learn throughout the book to grow and become better people. But even the faults they had weren't too bad, and I liked them from the first.

Sir Geoffrey was irritating when he kept making stupid mysoginistic comments and it got real old real fast, but, however, I must admit he had some reasons to want to keep away from women, considering the fact that the poor guy was locked up in the country with his idiotic sisters and mother.

As for Meg, yeah, she came across as a bit snobbish and arrogant in the beginning of the book, but she had such joie de vivre and was such a sensible woman, that I couldn't help but like her. I especially enjoyed her attitude towards a will stipulation that forced her to marry before she turned 26 or risk losing most of her money. She didn't fall back on one of those old "Oh, boo-hoo, I'll have to marry, otherwise my brothers / orphans / assorted relatives won't have the life they deserve" spiels. No, she very sensibly decided that since she liked her life as it was, and had no desire to live in genteel poverty, she'd have to marry, and she decided to find someone she'd find agreeable. Good for her.

Oh, and about the will stipulation I mentioned, I'm glad to report that it didn't play any part in Meg and Geoffrey's relationship. It was simply a plot device to put the story in motion.

The love story itself wasn't perfect, but it was sweet and I found Meg and Geoffrey likeable together. I'm not too crazy about separations, but I thought the one here worked.

The secondary characters were a little over-the-top at first, but by the end they showed signs of being more complex than simple caricatures.

Finally, I really liked how the weather played an important role in the book. That's something I tend to enjoy, like the hurricane in A Dark and Stormy Night, or the snowstorm here, and then the Thames freezing and a fair springing up there. Would this be the same winter described in The Further Observations of Lady Whistledown?

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