Monday, February 27, 2017

Five Minute Marriage? Or Absurdity?

Publisher's Weekly chose a 1978 reissue, The Five-Minute Marriage by Joan Aiken as one of the most anticipated books of 2017. 

By Michelle Ule

Curious, I ordered it from the library and wound up with the original 1978 edition.

I'm still trying to decide what I think about this Regency novel which struck me as being absurd.

Joan Aiken

Author Joan Aiken, the daughter of a distinguished novelist Conrad Aiken, has a quirky sense of humor which I'd read before.

She's well known for her The Wolves of Willoughby Chase novels for young adults, which I read as a young adult.

I didn't get it at the time, not being a sophisticated enough reader to recognize when my leg was being pulled.

I'm older now and suspect I'd enjoy the book more--because Aiken has a sly and wicked sense of humor.

Several times in reading The Five-Minute Marriage, I paused to wonder if this wasn't like Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey--a send up of the genre?

Story Line

Oh, the story line is absurd and convoluted and something happens--usually ridiculous--in every chapter.

The basic premise is the very likeable Philadelphia Carteret manages to visit her elderly great-uncle, whom she has never seen.

She travels on behalf of her ailing mother, long disinherited, in search of some of the funds any reasonable person would have granted the woman years ago.

Arriving at the gloomy old house in Kent, she discovers an imposter has claimed her name and birthright.

But the woman isn't there, the elderly great-uncle may very well die that night and an inheritance is at stake.

With the promise of 300 pounds a year for her mother, "Delphie" enters into a sham marriage.

Except, as you would expect, the great-uncle doesn't die, the marriage turns out to be valid and then there's the new, glowering, unhappy husband.

And secrets to be kept from her mother.

What next?

A rollicking tale that will not disappoint Regency fans. Even if it is ridiculous.


Written in 1978, The Five-Minute Marriage, I can only assume, uses the writing style of the time--which is awful.

The first two chapters, in particular were difficult to read because of all the "head hopping," and overuse of adjectives and adverbs.

I wasn't sure I could go on, but decided that on an empty night, the novel would entertain-- which it did just fine.

Can I recommend it?

If you like Joan Aiken's sense of humor and Regency novels, enjoy.

It takes a little longer than five minutes to read, but the time will go quickly.


A regency with a twist and Joan Aiken's wicked humor? Click to Tweet 

Five-Minute Marriage, a fast-paced Regency and funny, too. Click to Tweet   

Bestselling historical novelist Michelle Ule has moved to nonfiction with two books in 2017: In
June, she’ll be an essayist in Discovery House’s Utmost Ongoing: Reflections on the Legacy of Oswald Chambers  and as a biographer in Baker Book Publishing’s Mrs. Oswald Chambers: The Woman Behind the World’s Bestselling Devotional (October).

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