Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur's Court" by Marianne Mancusi

Time-travel romance has never really been my personal cup of tea. Having said that, I decided I'd give this title a go, seeing as how the dear friend in Indy managed to snag it and send it my way. My reaction to the book took a while, which is why I'm just now writing about it. Let me explain...

On the surface, I liked this novel while I was reading it. Surprisingly enough, the story of fashion reporter Katherine "Kat" Jones was engaging. While at a medieval fair, she is cursed by a fortune teller, a wicked-looking old woman who tells her that she is in the wrong time and that she's doomed to die that very day. Kat, believing nothing the woman says, goes off to watch a jousting match, only to be hit in the head with a very large piece of wood after she wanders onto the field. After blacking out, she wakes up to large men in armor, then not-so-quickly realizes that she's no longer in the present. Somehow she's been sent back to King Arthur's time, to his court specifically. What's a sensible girl to do, especially when there's no Starbucks around?

What she does is start falling for Lancelot. Yes, that Lancelot, the one who champions Queen Guenevere and eventually has an affair with her, thus destroying the Knights of the Round Table and Arthur's hard-won peace. The old woman from the fair turns out to be none other than The Lady of the Lake, who traveled through time herself to bring Kat back. Why? Well, Kat is the only woman who could possibly prevent the coming disaster. How? By falling in love with Lance, of course, and he with her. True love will win every time, right?

Uh, not so fast. Despite the fact that they do fall in love, there are still misperceptions and mistaken identities galore, all of which lead to the fate that the Lady and Merlin (yes, that wizard Merlin) were trying to avoid. Turns out they have ulterior motives of a decidedly religious overtone; they want to quash this Christian religion that threatens to take over their pagan ways. When it appears that things will end badly, King Arthur himself steps in to help out. Can't tell you how exactly! Just have to read it for yourself.

So why do I feel differently about this work now? Well, it's had time to sink in, and there are several things that I now see more clearly. While I was caught up in the story, it was easy to ignore them. But now? Not so much. For instance, Kat goes on and on about all the "modern" conveniences she's trying to learn to do without, but there's barely any mention of anything relating to toilets and body functions. This would seem to be the part that would disgust her the most, I would think. Also, it's mentioned several times that she still has her purse, which still has a tampon or two in it. Uh, OK, what about that tampon? Surely she's still having her period while she's there, so why not go into how they deal with that? And while we're on bodily functions, how about all the sex that she has with Lance? (that's not giving anything away and you know it!) They go at it quite a bit, but there's no mention of how she manages to NOT get pregnant. I was expecting it, really, as The Lady explained to her that she would have to wait for the solstice before trying to go home, which was 9 months away. Seemed like a pretty sure thing that Kat would be bearing Lance's love child...

I also thought there were some lost opportunities, such as the character development of Guen and Arthur. Both admit to Kat how much they love each other. Yes, it's told through Kat's eyes, but still, it would have been nice to see more of that romance. Also, it appears at first that Mordred isn't evil, just extremely confused by the reveal of his true parentage (having your mother and father be siblings is rather upsetting!) The chance to write Mordred as more of a teen in need of guidance, maybe one who at the last minute feels betrayed by his father, was there but not taken. Or what if Mordred was more innocent in his mistaking Kat for Guen? What if he was afraid to open his mouth about the error, rather than taking great delight in it? There's really no mention of the lad being coached by his mother to take over the kingdom at any cost, so why does he turn into such a rat? Again, missed opportunities.

Anyway, it's a fairly decent story while you're wrapped up in it. It just loses something after letting it digest a while. Call it the literary version of an upset tummy!

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