Thursday, May 26, 2016

Book Review: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Series: N/A
Publisher: Random House Delacorte
Release Date: October 27th 2015
My Rating: 4 cups
Source: Netgalley
Blurb (from Goodreads):

A wealthy family. A deadly secret. A young woman with more to lose than she knows.

Josephine Montfort is from one of New York's oldest, most respected, and wealthiest families. Like most well-off girls of the Gilded Age, her future looks set - after a finishing school education, she will be favourably married off to a handsome gentleman, after which she'll want for nothing. But Jo has other dreams and desires that make her long for a very different kind of future. She wants a more meaningful and exciting life: she wants to be an investigative journalist like her heroine Nellie Bly.

But when Jo's father is found dead in his study after an alleged accident, her life becomes far more exciting than even Jo would wish. Unable to accept that her father could have been so careless, she begins to investigate his death with the help of a young reporter, Eddie Gallagher. It quickly becomes clear he was murdered, and in their race against time to discover the culprit and his motive, Jo and Eddie find themselves not only battling dark characters on the violent and gritty streets of New York, but also their growing feelings for each other.

*Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book from Netgalley and Bonnier Publishing in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my opinion or my review of this book.

I've been meaning to read this book ever since I heard about it last year, during BEA. I was in love with the original cover, but I was also very intrigued by the premise of the book. It's also been a while since I last read a historical novel, and I've been meaning to find some historical novels to read.

The first thing that comes to mind as I'm writing this review is how multifaceted Jo Montfort, the heroine, is. She's really brave and witty in some situations, and then she's shy and innocent, bordering on naive. This was actually one of the most interesting things to read about, but also one of the aspects I struggled with the most. I think this is because I myself don't have to face a lot of the social rigors that she had to struggle with, as well as with the various ways in which women from a higher social class were, basically, uneducated. I had to wrap my head around that aspect of the story. At the same time though, it was a very interesting piece of history to read about, to try to understand how women were educated and how society dictated they should act like, how they should dress, walk, talk, even dance or study. So from that point of view it was very interesting.

As I said, Jo was a really interesting character. I have to point out that at times I struggled a bit to accept how she did things, but in the end I think she proved to be much braver and smarter than I initially thought. I also admired her a lot, especially since she really did go against everything society told her polite young women should be like.

Eddie was a character that, for some reason, I felt wasn't as explored as I wanted him to be. Granted, the book was told from Jo's perspective, but I also wanted to know more about Eddie. I feel like there's a story there, one that deserves to be told. I'm mostly interested about his childhood more than anything.

There's another character that I feel the need to talk about, that I can't however talk about as much as I wanted, because of spoilers. The only thing I can say is that I was a bit disappointed with how his story concluded. I felt like someone who went through what this character had to face, for 20 years, could have had a different epilogue.

All in all, this was a really entertaining story, one that I feel manages to educate readers a little bit more about pioneer women, like the journalist Nellie Bly. I can only hope there's going to be a story from Eddie's POV, because honestly, he is a character I really want to see get more page time.

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