Friday, August 31, 2012

Imperfect Bliss

by Susan Fales-Hill

Elizabeth “Bliss” Harcourt is the daughter of Harold and Forsythia Harcourt. She is recently divorced and has a daughter named Bella. Unfortunately, her divorce and her determination to earn her PhD have driven her to move back in with her parents.

Enter the other Harcourt sisters:
• Charlotte, the youngest and the tramp;
• Victoria, the eldest and the spinster; and
• Diana, the most beautiful and most eligible of the Harcourt sisters.

Diana is so eligible that she is chosen to star in a new reality television series, The Virgin. Oh, Forsythia could not be happier! She is thrilled by the prospect of fame and the promise of one of her daughters actually marrying well. As you might guess, hilarity and romance ensue.

But there’s something else going on in this novel: race. Harold and Forsythia are a mixed-race couple (she is from Jamaica, he is from England), Bliss’s dissertation focuses on race relations, and race is constantly mentioned in reference to potential suitors. This is a real turn-off.

I liked the idea of this novel—reality television meets Pride and Prejudice. Unfortunately, the execution of this idea is poor. And I have to say this: the cover of this book, the summary on the inside of the book’s cover, and the “advance praise” are all highly deceptive. All of them ignore the racial relations component of this novel.

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