Thursday, September 29

Jennifer Crusie: Maybe This Time

From the back of the book-
Andie Miller is ready to move on with her life. She wants to marry her fiance and leave behind everything in her past, especially her ex-husband, North Archer. But when Andie tries to gain closure with him, he asks one final favor of her. A distant cousin has died and left North the guardian of two orphans who have driven away three nannies already, and things are getting worse. He needs someone to take care of the situation, and he knows Andie can handle anything...
When Andie meets the two children, she realizes the situation is much worse than she feared. Carter and Alice aren't your average delinquents, and the creepy old house where they live is being run by the worst housekeeper since Mrs. Danvers. Complicating matters is Andie's fiance's suspicion that this is all a plan by North to get Andie back. He may be right because Andie's dreams have been haunted by North since she arrived at the old house. And that's not the only haunting...
Then her ex-brother-in-law arrives with a duplicitous journalist and a self-doubting parapsychologist, closely followed by an annoyed medium, Andie's tatot card-reading mother, her avenging ex-mother-in-law, and her jealous fiance. Just when Andie's sure things couln't get more complicated, North arrives to make her wonder if maybe this time things could just turn out differently.
This unusual mash up of The Turn of the Screw and Dharma and Greg could have been ridiculous but it works quite well. I think the success is due to the very well developed and believable characters (with perhaps the exception of Alice who felt like a bit of a caricature to me).
The setting was acceptably creepy but I can't understand why the author felt the need to have the haunted mansion imported from England and rebuilt on American soil. It seems completely unnecessary, especially since the ghosts are connected to objects rather than the house itself. This is something I've come across a couple of times (with different authors) and I suppose I'll never understand. If the English mansion is essential then why not set the story in England rather than drag England to the U S.
I really enjoyed this book with the exception of one scene. It was pure Henry James. It didn't add to this story in any way other than possibly as a tribute to the original and for some reason its presence here particularly annoyed me.
In spite of the few quibbles I've mentioned I did find this a fun and easy read. Another hit from Ms Crusie.-Lynn

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