Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review: WAIT FOR WHAT WILL COME by Barbara Michaels

wait for what will come cover

Go to the western gate at set of sun
On Midsummer Eve, and wait for what will come.
Like most Americans, Carla Tregellas knows very little about her family's European roots--that is, until an unknown relative in Cornwall dies, leaving her an isolated and crumbling cliffside mansion. Carla knows she'll have to sell the property, but decides to visit before she does. Not a day into her arrival, she finds out the women of the Tregellas family are cursed--every 200 years, a demon rises from the sea to reclaim the soul of his ancient bride. And Carla just happens to be there on the 200th anniversary of the last Tregellas woman's disappearance. Dun dun dun! More importantly, there are a bunch of handsome and very available men hanging out in the village who are more than willing to show Carla the Cornish scenery. The list of available bachelors includes:
  • Alan: the Tregellas family solicitor, and the local catch. He drives a fancy car and is very handsome, but unfortunately is also a controlling chauvinist pig. Or as the heroine puts it, "masterful."
  • The Vicar: nice guy, is young for a vicar, and has an awesome house.
  • Simon: the village doctor and self-proclaimed expert on local folklore. Charming in a bumbling country doc sort of way.
  • Michael: (former?) ballet dancer and grandson of Carla's housekeeper, he's visiting for the summer to help out in the garden. Or so he says.
  • Tim O'Hara: a friend of Michael's, he's backpacking around Europe and taking advantage of few days weeks worth of free lodging.
It's been a while since I read Wait for What Will Come, which is one of my favorite books by Barbara Michaels. When I recommended it to Becky at One Literature Nut a few weeks ago, I suddenly realized that I really wanted to read it again. If you're looking for a great summer escape novel, you can't go wrong with Barbara Michaels; and you especially can't go wrong with this book, which transports you to an obscure little village in Pirates of Penzance country and introduces a young woman to a heritage that goes back to Ancient Rome. Literally, there is a Roman mosaic in her backyard.

I first read Wait for What Will Come when I was eight, and I've reread it so many times since then I'm not sure I can effectively review it for someone who picks it up for the first time. I have my favorite scenes and I basically just read those and skim the rest. But there were a lot of things that surprised me on this reread. For one, I found Carla to be extremely annoying--she's so smug about being practical and logical, and looks down her nose at anyone who believes in legends or stories. By the time I was about a quarter of the way into the book, I was pretty sick of her Holier-than-thou attitude, especially since all the other women in this book are treated as total neurotics who need medical attention. Also, the tricks played on Carla to scare her out of the house, which seemed very creepy to me as a kid, seem laughable now.

That being said, Wait for What Will Come is still very romantic--not in the boy-meets-girl kind of way, which is a pretty minor part of the book, but in the sense of Carla going to Cornwall and discovering her family's history and place in the world. As a kid growing up in the middle of Colorado, things like cromlechs (standing stone circles) and Roman ruins seemed impossibly exotic and fascinating. And they still do! It probably says a lot about this book that the food and history Carla encounters in Cornwall are the things I remember most from the story. The suspense may be a little flat, but as a romantic escapist novel, Wait for What Will Come definitely succeeds.


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