Book Review: Gracious Living Without Servants

November 5, 2013 1990s, affairs, book reveiw, TLC Book Tour 1

Written By:  Brenda Cronin

Published By:  Stoneslide Media LLC  October 7, 2013

Length:  384 pages

Source: Publisher in exchange for honest review


Juliet has done the right thing all her life, and where’s it gotten her? She’s a thirty-year-old widow who’s had to move in with her parents.

Things start to look up when her glamorous—but married—neighbor Seth seems to be flirting with her and helps her land a job at a local paper.

Then she’s assigned to investigate Seth’s wife. Juliet is quickly immersed in lies, manipulation, and a deepening sex scandal. But she feels alive for the first time in a long time.

Maybe she needs to do the wrong thing for once. Or maybe she’s headed for disaster.(GoodReads)

My Thoughts: 

Juliet has a naivete about her, married young and recently widowed, she never got her career plan or post graduate work off the ground.  Leaving Washington D.C. for the shelter of home in New Haven after her husband’s death seemed the right thing to do.  After six months her parents are more than gently nudging her towards getting back to life. They engage influential friends to push Juliet to a job or something to get her out of the house.  This is where she re encounters Seth and Naomi , he a lawyer, she a fan of the arts and nothing is the same for dear Juliet.  

What I liked about this novel was the rather guarded and insulated world of an upper class society in New Haven.  The older adults, her parents and old family acquaintances, are all about appearances and social standing.  I could feel the chilly reception an outsider might encounter with these people.  Seth is a long time philanderer, and setting his sights on Juliet is similar to another notch in his bedpost.  Her fantasies are set straight when he becomes aware of the damaging and rather seedy secrets Juliet uncovers while researching the Lowell awards, the philanthropy and life work of his wife Naomi.  

I had much trouble suspending my idea of reality when reading this book.  I don’t think it typical of a 30 year old woman to being an affair with a man over twice her age, let alone a man her family knows.  I was thrown off even more as Juliet eagerly sought the assignment to research the dance awards and the head of the Lowell Awards, Naomi.  Clearly this was a conflict of interest, even as a novice journalist she had to know this was wrong.  The time setting was 1991, and it did take time to recall the lack of technology so readily available now.  Cronin did a good job of keeping that clean, no cell phones, no personal computers, no quick and dirty ease of communication.  Juliet’s research was well done. Beyond the ethical problems her work uncovered real financial and moral problems within the awards and the trust.  

The tile of the book is play on old chapter titles in prim and proper etiquette books Juliet and her siblings had laughed at as children.  Fitting for a book set where appearances play such a huge role.  While it was encouraging to see Juliet gain strength after such tragic loss and mourning, the story lines in Gracious Living Without Servants left me shaking my head.  

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me the opportunity to participate in this tour.
You’ve read what I think about Gracious Living Without Servants.  Check out the other stops on this tour to see what my fellow fabulous bloggers have to say.

Tuesday, October 15th: bookchickdi

Wednesday, October 23rd: Bibliotica

Monday, October 28th: Book-alicious Mama

Wednesday, October 30th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Thursday, October 31st: A Simple Life, Really?

Thursday, November 7th: Brooklyn Berry Designs
Monday, November 11th: Amy’s Book-et List

Tuesday, November 12th: A Book Geek

Thursday, November 14th: Obsessed Italian Brat

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