DCIB Book Club: Why I Don’t Feel Like Re-Reading “The Viscount Who Loved Me”

Weird book club post, a post about a book you may be reading but I don’t want to re-read and why I don’t want to re-read it.

So, here’s the thing, when you are writing a romance novel the central plot, conflict, everything is the relationship between your two leads. In other novels, your protagonist is revealed through interactions with friends, family, work, everything in the world. But in a romance novel, it’s just that one relationship above all else.

Julia Quinn is a very good romance novel writer, and part of her being good is that she manages to sketch in those alternative relationships and make her characters feel real without wasting a lot of words. You understand what made this character into who they are at the time they meet their love interest, the most important relationship. But in this particular book, I think the way she had to sketch in the background and then draw out the characters through their relationship just does not work for me.

The idea is that our heroine is tough and strong and outspoken. She is just Too Much for most people. Our hero is also a strong character, the oldest son who has felt the weight of responsibility on himself his whole life. He thinks he wants an “easy” wife who will be a minimal additional responsibility. But what is actually best for him is a wife that can stand up to him and force him to see her as an equal, not another responsibility.

In order to draw out the personality of the heroine, we need her to be challenged. And the logical way for her to be challenged is by the hero, the central relationship in the book. And this is where they lose me!

Just to clarify, this is where they lose ME, myself as a reader, in particular. I can’t criticize the book objectively, it is enjoyably written and the characters have internal logic and it ends in a good place. I just don’t enjoy the fighting parts of the book. Something about the exact way it is set up, with the hero and heroine actively working against each other (he wants to marry her sister, she doesn’t want him to marry her), is just too harsh for me. I sympathize too much with her, she is working for saving her sister, and he is working towards a whim to marry the woman he thinks is most proper. It just feels MEAN for him to hit back so much.

I do remember enjoying the later parts of the book. Quinn structures it so that the central conflict is resolved well before the end, and we are able to just watch the hero and heroine fight for the sake of fighting without quite such high stakes. That works for me. They revealed their true personalities because of the high stakes earlier, and now that they have revealed those personalities, they can start exploring really getting to know each other.

But yeah, I don’t want to reread it because, for me personally, that first part where she is fighting a high stakes battle and he doesn’t have nearly as much on the line just does not work.

Reading is such an intimate experience, isn’t it? You can enjoy or not enjoy a book based on the smallest little thing, something in your own personality that makes it just not strike quiet right. I don’t like the sense that anyone is being conscietiously unkind, and the first half of this book comes a little too close to that line for me.

On the other hand, I know other people enjoyed this book. Why? Is it the strong heroine, the fighting to love, the outspoken anger part of it? Tell me! I want to know!

19 thoughts on “DCIB Book Club: Why I Don’t Feel Like Re-Reading “The Viscount Who Loved Me”

    • Sure! All her stuff is good and similar, it’s just this particular book I don’t like the hero-heroine relationship as much as I could.

      On Sun, Mar 20, 2022 at 1:33 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  1. Just finished, and really loved the second epilog. Siblingly (/spousal) rivalry, yay!

    I guess I’m too forgiving of my fictional characters, because I kind of bought Anthony’s affliction. It’s kind of stupid, of course, to think that he has to die early. But I managed to just accept that premise. And then I gave him all the benefit of doubt and just assumed that he wasn’t just looking out for himself. That if he loved his wife she’d love him too and be sad when he was gone.

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    • Yaaaaay, glad you enjoyed it! And now you can watch the Netflix show for us and report back, because I don’t want to!

      On Mon, Mar 21, 2022 at 4:30 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Me too. Can’t stand her writing, plus I don’t appreciate steamy writing in historical romances. So, I read one and skipped the rest… And also S1.

        But I caught S2 and gotta admit the show’s writing + acting is pretty neat.

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        • Okay, what Indian film stuff do we need to know about if we don’t want to watch it? Do they really use K3G in the background at some point? Any other songs? Any dances?

          On Mon, Mar 28, 2022 at 9:14 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • So S2 essentially plays out like a Hindi movie, with a dash of Pride & Prejudice. It departs so much from the book that it can best be termed ‘loosely inspired’. You can give it a chance just because it is so different from the source which you don’t like!

            The K3G cover is awesome and actually made me like the song (never liked it much), proving my theory that classical renditions work wonders for many modern songs!

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          • Kainaat captures it well, it is like a P&P X Hindi movie sensibility. And in crux, there’s the K3G song, a Haldi ceremony (albeit private!), a bit about a kangan/bangle that reminded me of Mujhse Dosti Karoge and a scene where indian tea is prepared…
            Interesting to know that it’s only loosely based on the book!

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  2. I absolutely adore this book. Before I even begin to list the specifics, I generally love enemies to lovers stories, and I especially love books/movies that show positive, uplifting love, friendship, camaraderie between two women. This book has both! Now on to the specifics:

    1. I love the mother and that she loves and cares for Kate, her step daughter, as much as Edwina, her biological daughter.
    2. I love everything about the relationship between the sisters. They love each other, respect each other, tease each other. It’s perfect. I love Edwina announces that she will never marry someone that Kate doesn’t approve of because she knows anyone who can impress Kate will treat Edwina well. I love that Kate worries that Edwina will compromise and marry someone rich just to make sure she is providing for her family. It’s like the bromance you see in Shashitabh or Dharmendra-Amitabh movies but between two women who are the leads.
    3. The way Kate was described was amazing, she ran instead of walked. She couldn’t waltz without taking the lead. She loved fiercely and was not easily impressed.
    4. I love that Colin liked Kate for her wit and smarts and hard to impress attitude immediately after meeting her and knew that she would be the perfect match for Anthony, and not her “pretty” sister. And then Colin’s not so subtle but good natured matchmaking, knowing full well how much it would annoy his brother, was so fun to read.
    5. I like that the first thing Anthony liked about Kate was her wit.
    6. Kate loved that Anthony brought her flowers. It didn’t matter that he was courting her sister. All the men courted her sister. But no one else thought to buy HER some flowers.
    7. Anthony’s wet dream. Women always seem to have these in books but it was great to see a man have one.
    8. Pall Mall! This was the first time Pall Mall was introduced!!! The chemistry between Anthony and Kate!!! Ooof!
    9. When Cressida was being rude to Penelope, Anthony came to her rescue because he couldn’t stand Cressida bullying Penelope! That’s the moment that Kate falls in love with him. Also, once Anthony marries Kate, he automatically cares and wants to provide for Edwina.
    10. I love a book where the heroine gets everything she wants!

    P.S. I agree that reading is so personal. I absolutely loved their fighting parts. To me, they were equals and challenged each other but also wanted each other. I loved seeing the arch where both of them misunderstood each other in the beginning and truly fell in love the more they got to know each other.

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    • Oh P.P.S. I forgot one of the most important parts of the novel, the dog!!! I am a sucker for books with dogs in it and the interactions with corgi in this one cracked me up!

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    • You have almost convinced me to reread it! But then, on the other hand, life is short so why not read a book I know I will enjoy? But if I ever go on another Julia Quinn binge, I will try it again.

      On Fri, Mar 25, 2022 at 10:04 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Oh absolutely! You should read what you know you’ll enjoy. And this was by no means meant to persuade you to re-read the novel or even watch the show. I just really really enjoy this book and wanted to explain why. When I was Re-reading the book I actually started to worry that the show will never live up to my expectations of the book but the fact that the one of my favorite heroines in a novel is portrayed by an Indian person on screen also has me so excited!!

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        • I read a spoiler article about Season 2 that made me think the sister relationship goes in a different direction in the adaptation, I’m very curious about your review whenever you watch it!

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          • I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t seen the series and who plan to do so, but I have VERY strong feelings about the way the series depicted the relationship between the sisters. I’ll provide a full review when Margaret puts up the discussion post.

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          • Hmmm, how am I going to handle this? I think I might try fastforwarding the season and only watching the seemingly relevant scenes?

            On Mon, Mar 28, 2022 at 3:43 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I think it’s hard to fast forward because so much of it is their interaction and looks. But then again, not much happens so maybe you can just fast forward through it?

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          • I’ve got it playing now in the background while I do work and stuff. And I read some online recaps. I’m just not interested enough to do a full review, but I think I can gather enough of what happens to do a discussion post at least.

            On Tue, Mar 29, 2022 at 10:20 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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