The Amazing InheritanceAugust 14, 2012
So, yesterday I was trying to explain how, while I think of myself as loving fluffy, ridiculous romances, two out of three that I read don’t really do much for me. And how last week I happened to read two that I didn’t like so much and one that I did. Book number two was Frances R. Sterrett’s The Amazing Inheritance, and apologies to Cathlin, who suggested it, but I really didn’t like it. It starts out pretty charming, with a young lawyer finding a salesgirl in the basement of a department store and notifying her that her uncle, lost at sea twenty years before, has left her a chain of tropical islands. Which is, you know, cool, but a few chapters later there are three different love interests and the one with a brain isn’t favored, Tessie Gilfooly — our heroine — is frankly stupid, and it’s become clear that nobody is ever actually going to get to the islands in question. Then there’s the enormous pearl Tessie must have to be accepted as the islands’ ruler, guaranteeing an overhanging sense of doom for most of the rest of the book. And the island’s population embodies every negative stereotype connected with the word “savage.”
I mean, I liked Tessie’s grandmother, but she doesn’t get to do much. The same goes for Ka-Kee-Ta, Tessie’s bodyguard, who barely speaks English, but occasionally shows evidence of having a brain. Joe Cary, Tessie’s longtime suitor and a Socialist, and Norah Lee, who exists mostly to be an extra girl, are sometimes appealing, but they also frequently fall to the level of the other characters, and that’s bad. It’s just that everyone is so stupid. It’s not just Tessie — she actually sometimes shows signs of, if not smarts, self-preservation. I can’t believe that’s the best thing I can say about the main character of what looked at the beginning like a really charming book.
There was a moment where I wondered whether I wanted to describe The Amazing Inheritance as heavy-handed or ham-handed, but I think it’s actually both: unsubtle and inept. A cute premise and good intentions can’t make up for the fact that the author clearly doesn’t really know what she’s doing.
Fortunately, there was a third book, which I’ll post about tomorrow.