Friday, March 13, 2009

Prospero’s Daughter – Nancy Butler

Healing Hearts

Repaying a debt of honor by helping the illustrious General Sir Janus Paltry write his memoirs, Morgan Pearce must leave London--and a most delectable married woman--behind. And though he's not happy about venturing out to the officer's country estate, the dashing rogue cannot deny the creature comforts of Palfry Park or his instant attraction to a mysterious woman in a Bath chair.

Recovering from a carriage accident, and neglected by her family, Miranda Runyon spends her time alone ... until Morgan enters her life. At first, Miranda rebuff's his advances. But when Morgan's attentions begin to transform Miranda in both body and soul, she risks her heart for a love like none she has ever imagined.

The meaning of the title was a mystery to me. Not knowing what to expect I was pleasantly surprised when I realised the book featured an invalid heroine, Miranda Runyon. There are not many of those around, and it makes for an unusual and interesting plot. (As for the title, I found that Prospero is the protagonist of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ and his daughter is Miranda).

Morgan Pearce works in his uncle’s publishing business (much to his father’s resentment) and visits Colonel Sir Janus Palfry to help him write his memoirs. While there he accidentally meets Miranda, Sir Janus niece, who after a carriage accident that killed her parents 3years ago is paralysed and confined to a bath chair. Sir Janus keeps Miranda hidden from visitors and mostly confined in her room and looked after by servants. Morgan would like to help Miranda, both mentally and emotionally as well as physically if possible, as he is not certain that she is truly paralysed.

In the beginning Miranda behaves like shrew, rebuffing his attentions and wanting to be left alone, but Morgan perseveres in seeing her and talking to her, and Miranda finally comes to accept his company and his efforts on her behalf. He helps her, by playing cards with her, and helping her learn how to write again, as well as looking up medical texts and write to doctors for advice.

I really liked how Miranda’s and Morgan’s relationship develops and how they get to know and like each other. Morgan was great, as was Miranda. I even liked her in the beginning when she was peevish and quite rude. I also liked how the author is questioning Morgan’s motives and feelings. He is nice guy, playing the role of the good Samaritan, but while he grows to like Miranda a lot, the reader gets the feeling that he does not seem to consider Miranda as his future partner (ie wife), but only as a friend. And that the fact that she can not walk is the reason for that, and if Miranda was not a an invalid, but a ‘normal’ young woman he would see her differently. Of course by the end of the book Morgan realises his mistake.

There is also a nice secondary romance between Morgan’s brother Kitty and Morgan’s friend Phillip who was injured in the war (he has lost a leg). The fact that Morgan was not able to help Phillip, gave him an added motive to want to help Miranda, when he first met her.

All in all, a very enjoyable book. I really liked the invalid heroine theme and she does not get cured before she ends up living happily ever after the hero, a fact that I really appreciated. In other such books (or book, as I have not read many with this theme), the heroine gets to be cured and can walk again before the hero and heroine end up happily together. As if a heroine with a disability is not acceptable - not good enough for the hero - and has to be fixed first. Thankfully Ms Butler avoids this, and the book is better as a result. While not perfect, it is a book I can heartily recommend.

Grade 4/5


Ana T. March 13, 2009 at 7:46 AM  

Good review Ioanna, now I really want to read it. :-)

Ioana March 13, 2009 at 12:08 PM  

I slightly disagree, but I won't comment on it, until Ana has not read it :)

Ana T. March 13, 2009 at 12:53 PM  

Ah you two are terrible, trying to whet me appetite ;-)

Ana T. March 14, 2009 at 10:55 PM  

Hey Ladies, I just finished Prospero's Daughter and I agree with Ioanna's review. I found it a nice and interesting story. The only person I wanted to smack upside the head was Miranda's uncle so I guess all is as it should be. Looking forward to your opinion Ioana! :-)

Ioanna March 15, 2009 at 9:10 AM  

Glad you liked it Ana! I found the vilain uncle was a little bit over the top, but other than that the book was very good !

Ioana March 16, 2009 at 1:35 PM  

This what I wrote to Ioanna 2 years ago when I read the book. WARNING! It contains many SPOILERS

*** Aha, the Nancy Butler book. You haven't read it but since I'M SURE you won't even try to read it (not mentioning the impossible chance that you might like it) I'll speak freely :) This is a book very similar to "dancing with Clara" by Mary Balogh, the only differences would be that the hero is not a rake and the heroine's disabilities are much worse than Clara's. Plus this book is very far from being as good as Clara.
Plot: The hero, former major in the army, current owner of a publishing house, comes to a general home in the country to help him write his memories. Here everything is peaceful, loving and quite heavenly. Everyone loves everyone. Until he finds in the back yard a woman in a wheel chair with a thick veil on her face, unable to move her limbs almost at all. Our heroine :) (Talking about first sight attraction :), what more could you want?) They talk, she is bitter and anti-social, he pities her and stais with her, bribes her help-woman to bring her to a special place every day and decides that something must be done for her to be well again (there is a background here with an old friend who he couldn't help recover after loosing one leg in war). And by the way, the general and his family are relatives of her but never visit her, never even talk about her, she doesn't see anyone except her care-takers. 
They start being friends after a while, there begin to appear some results, actually this is the best part of the book (if you can call it best a state of beeing better than 0 or -3 :)) And after a few weeks she can eat by herself, write a little and moove her legs. We have some hints that they begin to love eachother, until BANG!, one of the general's daughters sees them kissing and the hero is banished from the house. He tries to tell the general that the heroine should be helped and not hidden in a corner of the house, that she made progress, but nothing. The general, in a very gothic way, refuses to believe it, and also dismisses the care-taker who helped the 2 characters, and brings an evil care-taker who mistreats the heroine. Of course :) The general makes a wonderful picture of stupidity at it's best :) The drama is very high! Imagine the poor heroine :) What do you think the hero will do now? Kidnapp her, of course :) They go to London, some things happen there related with the secondary romance (nothing worth mentioning), and they acknowledge their feelings! She still is not walking although she can stand, but the future is ahead of them :) Happy end! :) ***

Ana T. March 16, 2009 at 2:34 PM  

Oh dear, I may be in need of a Dancing With Clara reread but the truth is that not once during my read of PD did I think of that book...

I think that is because Clara had a very strong personality, she was very determined and her relationship with Freddie becomes romantic early on, on her own terms (at least I seem to remember she was the one proposing, am I wrong?) while here it's just friendship for most of the book.

I do see what you mean Ioana but while I was reading none of those things bothered me like they seem to have bothered you. There's not doubt on my mind that Dancing With Clara is a superior book though. Balogh is so good at conveying emotion, especially with damaged, tortured or flawed characters.



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