The fourth book in a row I read by Balogh, The Ideal Wife is, from the title on, a nod to Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband. Where in An Ideal Husband Sir Chiltern hides a secret past from his wife, who believes (and wants him to be) the perfect spouse, and has to face blackmail in order to preserve his good name (with the help of his dear friend, Lord Goring), in The Ideal Wife Miles Ripley, Earl of Severn, discovers the secrets of his bride, Abigail Gardiner, married on a spur-of-the-moment decision at the beginning of the novel, and will put down the attempts at blackmailing him with that knowledge. And as Lady Chiltern has to adapt to the fact that her husband did a bad mistake once, Miles will (quickly) make peace with the notion that his wife does not tick at all all the boxes that he had labelled 'ideal' at the beginning.
Miles Ripley does come off as a Wildean hero, with his unshakable aplomb, refined manners, good humour and self-control; Abby is another matter. At the beginning, I thought her smart and likeable enough, sensible and actually with a brain of her own; but in the face of the later revelations about her past, her behaviour looked inconsistent to me. Why would a person, who supposedly cared for an alcoholic parent for years, and kept the family from breaking altogether, and "gave all of herself for the sake of all of us", give 5000£ to blackmail without even thinking twice about it? How could she be the nurturing mother-figure she's described in the past and be "somewhat lacking in common sense"? Present!Abby and past!Abby don't seem the product of a cause-effect chain; present!Abby behaves like a creature who was spoiled for years, who had always got what she wanted (see: employing new maids, inviting people at dinner, and everything else without consulting her husband), not like someone who has suffered and learnt the value of money the hard way.
There are also various plot points introduced without consequences. The controlling females of Miles’s family: his mother and his two sisters, apart from one scene in which they meet Abigail for the first time, disappear into the background without meddling at all. Miles’ ex-almost-fiancée, Frances: apart from one vicious retort, has no importance on the plot. All the meddling so feared by Miles at the beginning is in fact provided by his allegedly not-meddling bride.
But, after all, I read this book for Sir Gerald Stapleton, Miles’ friend and later hero of A Precious Jewel; and it’s delicious to see once more Sir Gerald pining for his Priss (by the way I hated each time Abby tried to couple him with Laura; Gerald belongs with Priss!!) No wonder that Gerald got a book of his own: APJ is one hundred times better than The Ideal Wife. We also meet again the Chartleights and the Beauchamps from Gentle Conquest. Sir Gerald never disappoints (*cough* but in A Christmas Bride *cough*) so I can’t say that my expectations went completely missing here....Continua
Bello, devo ammettere che i segreti e le cose non dette sono quelle che creano suspance ma che fanno anche venire il nervoso, poi Abigail che non tiene mai la bocca chiusa e si ritrova a doverla tenere chiusa è una cosa stranissima, nel finale avrei voluto vedere come concludevano le ripicche contro i cattivi della situazione!...Continua