Sonnet, $6.50, ISBN 0-671-01735-7
Paranormal Romance, 1999
Nell is beautifully polished book when it comes to technique. But it’s another rehash of the theme this author did in her 1998 book Irish Lady, only more polished and the historical elements of the story are woven in better with the contemporary elements. But the beauty is all in the techniques and none in the romance. The romance is pretty blah if you ask me. Girl sees boy when she was young, and extrapolate this attraction all the way to adulthood with little convincing mellowing of the infatuation into real love.
It is as if women are incapable of loving anyone but the first boy she sees. Sort of like a spaniel’s loyalty to her master, I guess.
Contemporary Irish heroine Jillian Fitzgerald has a fantasy childhood friend called Nell. Actually, Nell is pretty real: she’s a ghost/time traveler-ish lady from 1537. Nell’s problem all stems from he being involved with her childhood crush Donal O’Flaherty, only to be separated by political intrigues. Jill’s problem is her loving her childhood crush Frankie Maguire, only to be separated by present day political intrigues.
So Nell and Jill’s problems are parallel to each other’s. Can they draw strength from each other to find love? Well, in this case, unlike Irish Lady, I don’t find myself drawn into Nell and Jill’s problems at all. Things become predictable when Frankie and Jill square off, she with the British and he with the IRA. Yes, the theme of loyalty, courage, et cetera is brought up, but I remain detached from these characters. I buy the author’s “first love becomes true love” thing the first time around in Irish Lady, but in Nell, the rather repetitious elements start to wear thin.
Ms Baker is more intent on creating beautiful prose and setting up obstacles on the characters’ paths to happy ending. I have no problems with that. I enjoy her prose. It’s only I don’t really get drawn into her story this time around.