Sweet on You: A New Mystery by One of My Favorite Authors!

Well, this post was supposed to go up about a week ago. But that didn’t happen, due to the fact that I didn’t even have this written yet, much less scheduled! And due to the fact that I was picking grapes last week (a job that I’m learning to really enjoy!), it simply didn’t get posted. I’ve decided that late is better than never, and since I loved the story I thought I’d share my thoughts of the book with you. But then, if you don’t like women’s fiction, or reading book reviews, go ahead and skip this post. I won’t mind!

Sweet on You by Chautona Havig

Mom has done some launch promotion work for author Chautona Havig over the past year, and a couple weeks ago when Chautona was looking for a new launch group, I decided to sign up. And, surprise, I got to be part of it! I’ve loved her books ever since Mom introduced me to Ready or Not—the tale of a young 20-something who is given guardianship of her 8 nieces and nephews after her sister and brother-in-law die. (On second thought, it’s probably not so surprising that I liked the story since I’m the oldest of eight…it was very true to life.)

I didn’t know what to expect from Sweet on You, the first book in the Meddlin’ Madeline series, since the premise was “a young girl notices things that other people don’t, and her noticing stuff involves her in some kind of mystery”. I wasn’t disappointed, though! In typical fashion, what would be a mundane story from many turned into an enthralling adventure under Mrs. Havig’s hands.

A young man recently moved into town appears at one of the many socials. He quickly begins courting the interest of Madeline’s friend Edith, but Madeline notices certain things about his demeanor that make her wonder what he is like in real life. If he is hiding something, will she be able to figure it out before he marries Edith—and perhaps destroys all chances of the girl’s future happiness?

Through the course of the novel, little things kept popping up—until I got annoyed at Madeline for waiting so long to find out the truth! I really enjoyed the mystery part of the story, and yet I enjoyed the historical aspect even more in some ways. Through this book, I got a little glimpse into life in the early 1900s, without the glamour of modern-day retellings of Jane Austen books (now, I do like the movies I’ve seen, don’t get me wrong; but this was an interesting perspective as well). I found the few mentions of the Brownie interesting, and loved the ways Madeline used her camera—not necessarily the way Russell intended her to use it!

Overall, it’s a great story. Not as much “Christian” stuff in it as in many of Chautona Havig’s other books, but like Mom I’m looking forward to seeing where that aspect goes from here.

The Kindle version is now available—you can buy it here.

Well, turns out my review for the blog was as long as my review for the website! Eventually, we will combine my review and Mom’s review into one, but for now we’ll leave things as-is.

Do You Have Characters Acting Out of Character?

Recently, I watched a ‘40s film of Pride and Prejudice. Near the middle of the movie, Elizabeth was visiting Mr. and Mrs. Collins. Earlier in the film, hints had been made as to what Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s personality was like, but it wasn’t until now that I actually got to meet her. Her personality was just as bad as it had been portrayed earlier—proud, arrogant, haughty—everything you wouldn’t want to find in a new acquaintance.

Lady Catherine and Elisabeth

by C.E. Brock [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Later in the film, she is shown as coming to see Elizabeth, trying to force her to promise never to marry Mr. Darcy. Of course, by this time Elizabeth loves Darcy, even though there will probably never be a way to have that love reciprocated. In the end Elizabeth refuses, and Lady Catherine leaves in an apparent huff.

The next scene made me raise my eyebrows. The movie portrayed her going out to see Mr. Darcy, who apparently put Lady Catherine up to it to find out if Elizabeth really loved him or not. Lady Catherine gives him the affirmation he wants and he goes in to propose to Elizabeth, while she drives off in apparent good humor, well satisfied with finally bringing the two together in the end.

On the surface, this may be the perfect ending to the story—but how the two got together in the end really bugged me.

The problem was that Lady Catherine was acting out of character. Majorly.

The problem originated in the fact that Lady Catherine is shown in previous scenes to have had strong family ties. She wanted Darcy to marry her daughter, not this Elizabeth who had very low social ties. She was shown as willing to go to all ends to achieve her means. So she wouldn’t have wanted to help Darcy in any way.

For the movie, it worked alright—the story was able to resolve much more quickly than in the book. But as far as portraying real characters, it fell short.

In real life, Lady Catherine de Bourgh does question Elizabeth—and tell Mr. Darcy of the results, in an attempt to keep him from courting her. Her words had the opposite effect of what she desired, though.

I want to be sure my characters don’t act out of character. I do find it difficult to spot it in my own writing, but in one place of a recent novel, my editor picked up on one instance—that I’m currently trying to correct.

Have you ever noticed similar deficiencies in characters? When was the last time you caught characters acting out of character?