Review: The Awakening of Miss Prim

The Awakening of Miss Prim: A NovelThe Awakening of Miss Prim: A Novel by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

[Disclaimer: I won a copy of this book in the Goodreads First Reads giveaway.]

3.5/5 stars (Oh how I wish Goodreads did half stars!)

"I'm cold. Would you mind taking me home now?"
"Mind? I'm always happy to take you home, Prudencia."

Prudencia Prim shows up in an isolated town, to apply for the position of librarian. It turns out to be in a man's home, which also functions as a school of sorts, and this man (never named, other than as "The Man in the Wing Chair") is the perfect person to infuriate, frustrate, and turn Miss Prim into an emotional pretzel. She prides herself on her civility, her delicacy, her own good manners and intelligence, and frequently turns her nose up (quite literally, to a somewhat comedic effect) at other people's faults. But she learns that her way is not the only way, that there are other people who live different lives, more peaceful and happy lives, and maybe her prudish and stuck-up ways aren't exactly making her the best person she can be.

I'm afraid I may have missed the point of this book. Rather than laughing at Prudencia as I think the author might have intended, I found her insufferable and a bit stupid. I'm amazed, with all of her haughtiness, that she managed to make an entire village full of friends. She overreacts easily to just about everything, and only towards the end does she allow herself to feel anything short of indignation that someone would speak to her plainly and without "delicacy." Although the last couple of chapters sort of redeem her, I'm not sure I followed where the author was going with the "idea" of Miss Prim.

And yet, for all of my inability to feel comfortable with my own understanding of the work, I thought it was well-written and funny, an interesting story, and I'm happy to have read it. I'm giving it the full four stars rather than knocking it down to three because of that, and because I quite enjoyed hating the main character. Not to mention the bluntness of the children, who are relatively minor characters but give the book much of its charm. Also, I really want to move to San Ireneo de Arnois.

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Do you want to read this book?  If so, keep an eye on this blog in the next week or so because you'll have a chance to win it!


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