Friday, February 7, 2014
Me on Landry Park
Author: Bethany Hagen
Release Date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: Dial (Penguin imprint)
In a fragmented future United States ruled by the lavish gentry, seventeen-year-old Madeline Landry dreams of going to the university. Unfortunately, gentry decorum and her domineering father won't allow that. Madeline must marry, like a good Landry woman, and run the family estate. But her world is turned upside down when she discovers the devastating consequences her lifestyle is having on those less fortunate. As Madeline begins to question everything she has ever learned, she finds herself increasingly drawn to handsome, beguiling David Dana. Soon, rumors of war and rebellion start to spread, and Madeline finds herself and David at the center of it all. Ultimately, she must make a choice between duty, her family and the estate she loves dearly, and desire.
Landry Park is a curious look into a future where the class structure is alive and well and one privileged girl could discover a truth that could bring the life she knows to an end. Old-fashioned rules and ideas thrive here, where a person is judged on his family's wealth, status, and property owned. Where duty to family rules Madeline's life and she's forced to choose between that family and what her heart craves for her future.
Madeline is trapped by birth, family, and duty. She's not perfect, not conventionally attractive, which is good, she's not a paragon of virtue stuck up on a pedestal, but for all her intelligence and determination to go to university a fair portion of her time is spent complaining about what she can't have. As an only child she is her father's heir, she will one day be mistress of Landry Park, control her family's wealth and properties. Something her father never lets her forget. While I applauded her focus on her future, her desire to continue her education, I felt it was pushed aside every time she spotted David. In those moments, her attraction towards him took control and she forgot about what was seemingly important to her. Of course, the heart can be pulled in multiple directions, so I cannot necessarily fault her for that.
The class system has taken hold, turning the US into a country where money and property increase your standing in society, where a lower class of near slaves are forced to work in horrific conditions because of their birth. It's a biased system where the rich and powerful are cheered for and the Rootless, those without property, are treated like trash. Like they're less than human. It's an intriguing comparison to modern day struggles, the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer and sicker. The ignorance of the gentry and the suffering of the Rootless are terrible.
As I read this book, questions arose in my mind surrounding certain things. A mystery only sometimes discussed. Hidden family secrets. I'm curious to see if those are explored more in the next book. There has to be more hidden in Madeline's family's past than what was revealed here.
I've seen this book described as a futuristic Downton Abbey meets The Selection. I've not seen or read either, but from what I know of both the drama and the book I'd have to agree. It also, in it's own way, reminded me of From Darkness Shows the Stars and Across a Star-Swept Sea. I do feel that Madeline was lacking in agency every so often. She's willing to argue with her father over going to university before getting married immediately, but she won't leave or take drastic measures. In her world, she would have nothing if she left. I also feel that some of the actions she took were only because of her attraction to David. I am still interested in the next book, but I'm more curious as to what else could be revealed as Madeline looks deeper into her family's past.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Penguin Canada.)