Sullivan, Laura L Ladies in Waiting, 328 pgs. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. $16.99. Language: PG (0 swears); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG
Three Elizabeths that come from different backgrounds all find themselves members of the court of King Charles II. Eliza benefits from her father’s wealth, but is also trapped by it as she seeks to avoid an undesirable arranged marriage and instead write for the stage. Zabby has come to England from the colonies to take her place at court and near the king and through the friendship that develops between them she is able to foster her interest in science. Beth is beautiful but poor and if she is able to fulfill her mother’s wish, she will use her beauty to secure an advantageous marriage. However, her heart belongs to her childhood sweetheart and she is torn as to following her heart or pursuing a secure future.
While it is quite obvious that this book is meant to have the theme of female empowerment, it misses the mark. As historical fiction it strays too far from an accurate portrayal of the time as it plays fast and loose with facts in order to support and advance the plot the author has contrived. Themes of adultery and female oppression are treated lightly and the conclusion is too unrealistic to the overall historical feel of the novel. If a reader wants a breezy silly romance, this book will do, but if someone is looking for a historical fiction book that recognizes the intelligence of the reader, they would well to search elsewhere.
MS, HS—OPTIONAL AEB