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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittlemore

Book Review Rating ♥♥

Mabel Dagmar is a plain teenage girl who is befriended by her beautiful, rich, blue blooded college roommate, Genevra Katherine Winslow who is known by the diminutive Ev for no obvious reason and no reason is ever given. Ev invites Mabel to spend the summer with her in her newly inherited house called Bittersweet at Winloch, an estate owned by Ev’s parents and where all the Winslow family spend their summer.
Mabel begins to realise that there are dark secrets at the heart of the Winslow family and decides to investigate the Winslow past. However, Mabel also harbours a secret which is as dark as any that haunt the Winslow family.
Bittersweet is a competently written novel with the author having a good grasp of characterization, dialogue and plot. However, the novel is 150 pages to long and very bland in its style and substance. The novel’s ‘twists’ that are straightened out eventually are all obvious to anyone who is well read. The secrets are plot twists that have been used too often not only in books but in films especially in recent years. One twist concerns a Van Gogh painting that had the family had the sense to simply recover the back of the painting this particular secret would never have been exposed.
Too often the author struggles for an analogy or simile she hasn’t already utilised and in doing so becomes repetitive. Emotions and feelings wash over the characters too often in the form of water and its many guises; a lake, a river, rain. Allusions are writ large. Mabel’s favourite book is Jane Eyre. She is always attempting to read Paradise Lost.
Some scenes in the novel border on the ridiculous. Not once but twice Mabel stumbles upon couples having sex and she is also stumbled upon while she is masturbating. A young boy stumbles across his father having sex in the bathroom. The author wishes us to believe that a man in his seventies manages to outrun a fit, athletic twenty something when he pursues him after said twenty something witnesses a heinous act.
As already mentioned the novel is far too long and is in need of a good editor. There are too many scenes that not only slow the pace of the story but are also redundant as they add nothing to the story’s characterization or plotlines.
Despite the above criticisms there is a good novel struggling to get out and hopefully the author will free that particular novel from this 400 page tome.

Advanced copy supplied by NetGalley. 

First Line - Before she loathed me, before she loved me, Generva Katherine Winslow didn't know I existed.

Memorable Line - None

Number of Pages - 400
Profanity - None
Sex Scenes - Yes


  1. Brutal, but sounds like it was well-deserved. I absolutely loved 'Memorable Line - None' - made me laugh out loud for real!

    1. Thanks FictionFan. It is the first time since I started reviewing books that when I finished reading the novel I had not written down a memorable line or two. Not because I had forgotten but nothing merited being referred to as 'memorable'.