Monday, March 20, 2006
Portrait of a Lover by Julianne MacLean
This was the last remaining historical on my list for a while, and I couldn't wait. I had to read it NOW. I had to see if it was possible for Julianne MacLean to redeem Magnus. A more villainous villain (from Love According to Lily) I haven't seen in a long time. I have to admit, I didn't think it would be possible to do it in a believable way.
I was amazed. She actually did it! MacLean took the entire first third of the book to tell the entire back story of Annabelle and Magnus' meeting, courtship and disastrous ending thirteen years earlier from both Annabelle's and Magnus' perspectives. You see why he acted as he did. By the end of the third or fourth chapter, I was already rooting for Magnus as a hero. Unbelievable! The woman is a master, I tell you. In a stroke of literary genius, MacLean managed to change the reader's entire view of the main character in the blink of an eye. (mixing my metaphors here, but you get the picture, right?)
For those who did not read Love According to Lily, Magnus ruined Annabelle for reasons better left untold. He led her on, made her fall in love with him, ruined her, then told her flat out he was just using her. The poor girl would never be the same. We encounter her in Love According to Lily 5 years later. Portrait of a Lover takes place 8 years after that, and Annabelle is still not over the entire affair - that's how affected she was.
I loved that so much of this book was told from Magnus' perspective - it's always so refreshing to read the man's POV. Although, I suppose that in this book, there would be no other way to do it - this is really more Magnus' story than Annabelle's. It was interesting to see what had become of him in the intervening years, and to see what he thought of his childhood with his mother, after hearing Whitby's perspective of it in Love According to Lily. It is an emotional journey for both characters, but especially for Magnus, as we watch him come to terms with his actions 13 years earlier and their repercussions.
I enjoyed getting an update on Lily and Whitby - 5 children, my goodness! And I thought is was so interesting to read about the evidence of the time period as well; how Magnus introduced electrical outlets into the house he was refurbishing - very cool.
If you haven't read any Julianne MacLean, I highly recommend her. Most of her American Heiress series (now 5 books long) can be read as stand alones, and even this one can as well, but I found that I related better to the continuity of the story having read Love According to Lily first. There was just so much history and connection between the two books. Now, you all know that I am not a series slut. I often *gasp* read books out of order. So, when I say that you should probably read one first.... you can take my word for it. Both Love According to Lily and Portrait of a Lover are highly recommended! (and can I say... what a yummy cover on this one!)