Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindle
This modern literary fairy tale has a beautiful young girl, a crumbling castle by the sea, several potential heroes, a little brother who must be protected, a widowed mother who needs help running her household, wicked stepsisters, and a fancy ball at the neighboring estate. With all of those great fairy tale conventions, it still delivers a great story!
Althea is trying to keep her family together and to marry herself off to the highest bidder. She’s not had the luxury of believing in true love matches. For most of her life, she has known that she’ll need to marry someone wealthy. Her goal is to save the family castle, which is currently owned by her little brother and managed mainly by Althea herself. She has almost no resources to support her family; her great grandfather foolishly sold the family lands to build the rambling castle along the coast of the cold North Sea, and anything that could be sold to raise funds is already gone.
When a fancy neighboring estate is inherited by a handsome young man, Althea and her stepsisters hope to draw the young man’s attentions and affections and make an advantageous match. Althea is distracted from her goal by the young man’s awkward friend from the city, Mr. Fredericks, who always seems to be causing trouble and starting arguments with her. She sets her sights on a financially sound marriage prospect, while mending tapestries, altering old clothing and helping in the kitchens so that her family can keep up appearances.
If you’ve ever read a Jane Austen novel or seen an Austen-themed movie, most of the plot lines in this adorable story will be predictable for you, but no less enjoyable. This light read is entertaining and satisfying – save it for a rainy day and then escape along with Althea and Keeping the Castle.