Friday, April 26, 2013

"This episode of Downton Abbey was 37 hours long."

Book: Something Dangerous
Author: Penny Vincenzi
Published: 2001 (Overlook)
Pages: 710

This is Downton Abbey in book form, minus the vast majority of the servants’ part and set a World War later in a family that still has ties to what made it rich (publishing). It starts out you know it’s like a soap opera but with way better production values and characters that are archetypes rather than flat-out stereotypes and that tells us a little at least about the general human condition, right? Sure. Plus she’s totally sleeping with the dude who’s terrible for her! 

But that’s not an endorsement. It’s a warning about how utterly dull wartime declarations can get when everyone’s intentions are noble and all tension is eased within a couple pages of bringing it up in the first place. And all the ladies take back their men after declaring them scoundrels and getting pregnant like every other day seriously they even talk about birth control and how they should use it and apparently that doesn’t happen because every other major plot point is “[Female character. Any of them. Seriously.] is pregnant!” Because it’s ALWAYS A SURPRISE and there’s 700 PAGES of that.

Plus there’s a sheen of historical irony that just gets more and more annoying as the characters worry about and hope for events that everyone damn well knows the outcome to by now. And the matriarch, who in my head was totally Maggie Smith even though she was actually the mom in the book, starts out admiring Hitler and his revolution but you know what changes her mind? The same arguments against fascism that she’s been hearing since he started out. The arguments just suddenly work somehow around the time he breaks the glass of every Jewish shopkeeper he can find.

It’s that kind of weak convenience that drives all the character changes, and I just couldn’t like it nearly as much as I thought I was going to in the first hundred pages. Donate.

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