When I saw that Landry Park by Bethany Hagen was described as “Downton Abbey meets The Selection,” I almost couldn’t believe it. I love both of those things, like a lot, so could something that fantastic actually exist? I had to get my hands on this book.
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 high-stakes love story set in a dystopian future, where the rich and the poor are on opposites sides of both money and war. I was intrigued by the setting, with the beautiful descriptions of the main character Madeline’s home and the contrasting darkness of the rootless (those in poverty). I was fascinated with the economic infrastructure and the blue lanterns, the saving grace for the elite and Madeline’s family legacy.
I really enjoyed the writing in this book. I could tell the writer was a reader and I really loved this quote:
“I could tell you were a reader when I first saw you, David said. You have that dreamy look in your eye, like you’re wishing yourself onto a page.” (Page 61)
If only I wanted to wish myself onto the page in this book. The writing was good, but it didn’t build a connection for me. My biggest struggle was I didn’t feel connected to the characters. I didn’t feel her love for David. I understand she wanted him and longed to be with him, but I didn’t feel the heat of her desire or the bite of her jealousy. I wanted more.
This story is very mysterious. From the get-go, Madeline must unravel mystery after mystery, working to figure out hidden motives and expose secrets. This aspect of the story kept me reading, wanting to know more. However, when all was said and done, the truth seemed to come out of nowhere, explaining away mysterious actions with mundane excuses.
Overall, this is a very pleasing story, with an intriguing plot and interesting characters, but I didn’t fall in love with them or their struggles.
STARS: 3 out of 5