I find it interesting that The Awakening of Miss Prim is an international best seller. The book takes a setting reminiscent of the movie The Village, adds a Mr. Rochesterish male love interest, and turns a love story kind of like Sound of Music, plus it’s a paean to classical literature and hybrid homeschooling and faith, and includes a lot of Quotable Deep Thoughts (QDT).
What’s not to like?
I expected to love this book. The premise is really interesting–a throwback community in a staunchly secular modern world, communal education based on classical principles, combined conversion to faith and love that is decidedly counter-cultural. And yet, I felt the book was a swing and a miss. Why?
Upon reflection, I think this book suffers from being too short–had the QDTs been spread through a long story it might have come across as less preachy and didactic. In such a short volume, the story is totally overwhelmed by talkiness. While the length probably contributed to sales, it really detracted from the book’s development. The author missed opportunities to flesh out the characters, describe the intentionally isolated village and its benefits and pitfalls, and make us care about Miss Prim. I didn’t buy her change of heart, but I think that’s because I didn’t have time before the book was done. Moreover, the child characters are not believable, even as presumably gifted kids who are exposed to great educations. They came across like that annoying little boy in The Sixth Sense who stage whispered about seeing dead people. Overly precious and two dimensional. Perhaps this is a problem with the translation?
While I pretty much agree with the author and should be the target audience for Miss Prim, I can’t really recommend it because of the problems in the writing. I partially enjoyed it and wanted to love it but overall was disappointed.
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