The Nonesuch

[openbook booknumber=”1402217706″]


An interesting twist on the “older heroine” story, The Nonesuch is a novel about Ancilla Trent, who is serving as a governess in the household of the Wield’s and has taken on the enormous task of trying to tame the neighborhood beauty Tiffany Wield, mainly though a calming presence and quick thinking, not to mention running circles around her intellectually. Tiffany is stubborn, hot headed, spoiled and completely self absorbed and she is not helped in this by her doting family or legions of admirers. She is a beautiful girl, with nothing in her head but concerns about herself and has a fiery temper when provoked that results in huge temper tantrums and generally shocking behavior. This last fault ultimately lands her and her governess in a potentially devastating scandal.

Miss Trent regarded her thoughtfully. “Well, it’s an odd circumstance, but I’ve frequently observed that whenever you boast of your beauty you seem to lose some of it. I expect it must be the change in your expression.”
       Startled, Tiffany flew to gaze anxiously into the ornate looking-glass which hung above the fireplace. “Do I?” she asked naively. “Really do I, Ancilla?”
       “Yes, decidedly,” replied Miss Trent, perjuring her soul without the least hesitation.

The Nonesuch, Sir Waldo Hawkridge (and who would have thought the hero of a romance novel could be named Waldo?), has inherited property in the neighborhood and has moved in to inspect an estate that has clearly fallen into shambles and isn’t truly fit to be lived in by anyone. The neighborhood assumes he’s moving in for good and, as they say, a man in possession of a fortune must be in want of a wife, or so the neighborhood thinks. If you think this story mildly resembles Pride and Prejudice, no surprise, it does.

You see, Sir Waldo’s reputation proceeds him and he is viewed as an excellent whip by the young men of the neighborhood, and a rake by the mamas as he is generally considered a confirmed bachelor and breaker of hearts. Ancilla had a similar man lead her much beloved brother very astray in London and so she thinks very little of the Nonesuch, at first.

I liked the unique take on a Pride and Prejudice type of story and wasn’t at all bored by some of the revisited themes since the story was told in a such a different way with very different characters. Also the wit and sparkle of Ancilla was often put to great use both in verbal sparring with Sir Waldo and with keeping Tiffany in line.

Speaking of Tiffany, I have to say she turned out to be one of those characters you love to hate. Miss Wield is truly wild and her naivety, stupidity, purposeful ignorance and complete self absorption were major turn offs. Her complete beauty and dazzling presence were her main reason for her many beaus, but her temper sometimes gets the best of her and the fallout risks landing her and her governess in a socially devastating scandal.

Speaking of social scandals that was the reason this novel lost a star. I had read just prior to The Nonesuch a novel called A Spinster’s Luck it had a similar theme of a governess and an heir embarking on a relationship under improbable circumstances. The later also included the thought that such a pairing between a member of the gentry and the working class would have excited much scandal. The Nonesuch was so wrapped up in Tiffany’s scandal there wasn’t much time to worry about anything else. She always does seem to take center stage, even in a novel where she is a secondary character!

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