Audiobook: Keeping the Castle

by Patricia Kindl
Read by Biana Amato
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There’s nothing objectionable, but my 8-year-old was quite confused while listening to it. So, it’s probably not for the younger set, just because of intricate plot lines and needing at least a working knowledge of Regency England. It’s in the YA section (grades 6-8) of the bookstore.

Althea Crawley has always known that she needed to marry well. Her father died shortly before her younger brother (and her father’s heir), Alexander, was born. The castle — in the north of England, on a cliff, and their home — her great-grandfather built is slowly falling apart (well, maybe not so slowly). And so when Lord Boring (yes, that really is his name) shows up in the neighborhood, Althea knows what she must do: get him to marry her. Unfortunately, his crass, merchant, cousin, Mr. Fredericks, keeps getting in the way.

The jacket compared this one to I Capture the Castle and Pride and Prejudice. The Capture the Castle part of it is silly: the only things those two books have in common is a young heroine and a castle. However, the book read like a spin on all of Austen’s books. There were elements of Emma and Sense and Sensibility as well as P&P. It’s a more practical Austen, however: Kindl gives us a more confident and curious and modern heroine than Austen ever did. And Kindl gives us more blatant class divisions than Austen did, as well. The love interest is a merchant, and falling in love with a merchant, even a  wealthy one, is something which a landed gentry in Austen’s world just wouldn’t do. In fact, there’s quite a few interesting elements that probably existed in Austen’s time but didn’t overtly make it into her books. As we were listening to it (Hubby quite liked it, too), it occurred to me that this is Jane Austen-lite: an Austenesque books for kids who are curious but can’t quite make it through Pride and Prejudice.

The back did have this right: it is frothy and light as a champagne cocktail. It’s not deep — we were discussing all the ways in which Kindl could have made it more complex and darker than it was — but it sure is fun.

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