Thursday 24 October 2013

The Banishment by Marion Chesney - Book Review

From the Blurb:

Isabella Beverley is blessed with unparalleled beauty but, unfortunately, has been raised in the most snobbish and haughtiest of families. And when her father gambles away their fortune--including Mannerling, the exquisite family mansion--Isabella discovers there is very little sympathy for her plight. As the eldest, Isabella is chosen to court Mr. Judd, the roguish bachelor who won Mannerling. Surely no sacrifice is too great to regain Mannerling? But tempting her away from Mr. Judd is Lord Fitzpatrick, an Irish rake who fears Isabella can never love a man as she does her home--but is nonetheless determined to convince her to choose man over manse!

The Review:

I'm on a bit of a Chesney/Beaton buzz at the moment, having just reviewed Snobbery with Violence, but The Banishment is a very different tale from that luring mystery romance.

Isabella is truly head over heels in love with her family's mansion, Mannerling, but when her father loses all their money, the Beverleys must learn to live without the niceties that they are so used to, and without their beloved mansion. They still have servants, of course, but apparently life without their very own Greek temple in the backyard is all too traumatic for the poor Beverley family. Lord Fitzpatrick and his aunt take it upon themselves to care for the family, teaching the proud Beverleys how to live within their means. At the same time, Lord Fitzpatrick attempts to woo Isabelle away from her love of Mannerling. He has a lot of trouble, however, as she instead chases after the new owner in an attempt to become Mistress of Mannerling once more.

The Beverley's are a proud, spiteful and fairly gross family with few redeeming features other than one of the younger girls Lizzie, who seems to be the only one with a head on her shoulders. Isabella is insipid and just about as boring as the beginning chapter suggests - as she fails to find a husband during her season because they all find her too tedious. I found this easy to believe. Thankfully, she becomes a little easier to bear as Lord Fitzpatrick shows her that life isn't all about money and position (while they ride his expensive stallion to his own new estate). He is somewhat patronizing in his conversation, but we must forgive him because he puts up with Isabella. It does seem that he predominantly likes her because she is beautiful, but we can forgive him that too.

Of course, we must love Lord Fitzpatrick despite his faults. After all, he is gorgeous, Irish, and rich. Though Irish is something more of a slight to his name in the mind of Isabella's parents than it might be to the readers of this novel. And while he does one truly strange thing towards the latter end of the novel, he is the most sensible one in this piece (other than, perhaps, his aunt - who is quite a fun character: all mad hats and opinions and motherly affection, as well as being actually competent).

I did not really feel drawn into the romance between Isabella and Lord Fitzpatrick, perhaps because I found Isabella so draining, but I was still drawn into the tale. I'm not sure what it is about Marion Chesney, but I always get sucked into her books no matter the plot or characters.  This is certainly not a passionate read, but it is a nice easy historical romance that is well paced and entertaining.

I read the Audiobook, so what about the Narrator?

The Banishment is read by Lizzie Stanton who is a good narrator, particularly for this story. She captures the silliness of the Beverley family in her intonations and also manages Lord Fitzpatrick's Irish accent. My only criticism is that she was a little bit slow - something I've been noticing of late on certain audiobooks, which I find a little annoying, but which doesn't really detract from the storytelling.

What about the rest of the series?

There are six books in The Daughters of Mannerling series. While I enjoyed The Banishment, I do not think I will follow up with the rest of the series. I found the sisters quite irritating and most of all Jessica, who is unfortunately the heroine of the second book. If the second book had been from the younger sister Lizzie's perspective I would have wanted to read it, as I am curious to see how her story turns out. I may have to jump ahead in the series to find out.

The Banishment, written by Marion Chesney and read by Lizzie Stanton, was published in 2013 by AudioGo (first published in 1995) and is 4.4 hours in length. It is available from Amazon, Downpour (previously AudioGo) and Book Depository

This title was given to Love Reading Romance in exchange for an honest review.