My Dearest Enemy, by Connie Brockway

>> Friday, April 11, 2003

Having loved Connie Brockway's Bridal Season when I read it earlier this year, I decided to reread her My Dearest Enemy (excerpt). I wasn't too impressed the first time around, but this was years ago, so I thought I'd see if I liked it better now.

In Horatio Thorne's will, suffragette Lily Bede is named manager of Mill House for five years. If the estate succeeds, it will be hers. If it fails, it will revert to Horatio's only adult male relation, Avery Thorne, whom Horatio considers a sickly wastrel. But with his legacy on hold for five years, Avery becomes an explorer, corresponding with his "dearest enemy" as Lily sends him his stipend. These epistolary lifelines are the beginning of a most unusual courtship that continues when Avery returns, not as a wastrel but as a handsome, witty and honorable man. The question is, can Avery convince skeptical Lily to trust and love him?
I find I can now appreciate this one in a way I wasn't able to all those years ago. Actually, it has a similar flavour to Bridal Favors, so I suspect I wouldn't have liked that one either, if I'd read it at that time. People change, and all that. As it is, my grade for MDE is A-.

Brockway's writing is magical, elegant, lyrical, every poetic adjective you can think of. She has a knack for choosing just the right word, the perfect expression, and never sounding overblown or overly precious. I haven't read any of her more angsty books (I have All Through the Night in my TBR pile), so I've no idea if she writes any differently there, but here her tone adds to the lighthearted atmosphere.

Though the tone is light, this book isn't at all light-weight. It deals with the issue of women's rights beautifully, and the characters are fully fleshed-out. Lily's issues could make her unsympathetic and too-stubborn in another author's hands, but she's just right here, while Avery... all I'm going to say is that I love Avery. His vulnerability, his shyness, his wit, his determination to be a gentleman (while having zero manners!)... everything! Just go read this!

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