Friday, March 13, 2015

Even in Paradise, by Chelsey Philpot

When Julia Buchanan arrives at St Anne's, a New England boarding school, in her junior year, rumors fly around. Everyone knows the Buchanans -- a powerful Yankee dynasty with both money and political connections. And everyone knows about the tragic death of Julia's older sister.

Charlotte couldn't be any more different -- a scholarship student, who also has considerable artistic talent. Much to Charlotte's surprise, Julia takes a fancy to Charlotte and adopts her into the family. Intoxicated by the family's power and generosity, Charlotte does not realize until it's far too late that there is a dark side to the beautiful world of the Buchanans.

In setting, the story reminded me a lot of E. Lockhart's We Were Liars, with its patrician family and dark family secrets (there must be a thing about Vassar girls writing about rich New Englanders!). But the story itself is quite different. And while it is interesting, it is not so compelling or as shocking as Lockhart's novel. The characters are interesting but the story doesn't have a good flow. The dynamics of Charlotte and Julia's relationship, complicated as they are, are hard to track. The romance between Charlotte and Sebastian is abridged. Everything felt sketchy and superficial, much like the Buchanans themselves.

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