Midnight Pleasures
by Eloisa James, historical (2000)
Delacorte, $22.95, ISBN 0-385-33361-7

At chapter three, I was thinking, "Hey, not bad, this is a satire on bluestocking heroines, yes?" At chapter five, "Goody, it's also a compromised-act satire!" By chapter sixteen, I was humming that song Adam Sandler's character was singing in The Wedding Singer, the one that goes

Oh somebody kill me please!
Somebody kill me please!
I'm on my knees, begging please - kill me!
I want to die,
Put a bullet through my head!

No, I'm not suicidal, although I felt close to it during the more heinous misunderstandings that plagued Midnight Pleasures. The story is such: Sophie York loves Patrick Foakes, but he's a rake and her father is a rake, so she is afraid of ending up like her mother. So she accepts the proposal of another rake (don't ask). Patrick, mad, seduces her. Wedding time.

Then come the torrents of misunderstandings, all lined up like neat toy soldiers. One falls, another takes its place. She's smart, but she hides her intelligence, and Patrick wonders if the smart woman he marries is actually a braindead nitwit. She thinks he has mistresses left and right, and burns inside. She gets pregnant, but damn, his mom died in childbirth, and he would not tolerate his wife's lying ways to control him further! Along the way, her ex-boyfriend asks her to teach his girlfriend French, and she agrees - without telling hubby. Guess who sees these two riding in the park. And we also have Sophie believing that the best way to keep the man by her side is to never, ever show anger.

It is frustrating. These two spend the whole book thinking the worst of each other. To him, she's a couldn't-care-less, cheating, lying, braindead hussy. To her, he is a philandering, cruel, faithless, emotionless hubby.

I try to see this as a story of a woman who is taught to be dysfunctional by the rigid strictures of her time. I try to see it all as a joke (Foakes, get it?). But ultimately I'm just too fed up with the tears and tantrums to care. Can't these two just talk?

Another few lines from that same Adam Sandler song sums up the plot of this book nicely.

But it all was bullshit
It was a goddamned joke
And when I think of you and I
I hope you fucking choke!

Exactly the things Sophie and Patrick should be yelling at each other. Maybe then there'll be some comic relief from the whole bitter, unnecessary bile in the story.

Rating: 45

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