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The Awakening of Miss Prim: A Novel Paperback – July 8, 2014
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“An exquisitely delicate, distinctive and inspiring story that will leave your heart undone, open to the beauty of the little things in life.” (Elle (Spain))
“This charming and intelligent debut novel is certain to be a hit.” (Library Journal, Starred Review)
“The Awakening of Miss Prim is a beautifully written novel. Its characters are brought to life so eloquently, and the blossoming of Miss Prim is so complete: she learns the value in life and love that has been lost in our modern-day hustle. An exquisite book and a joy to read.” (Deborah Rodriguez New York Times bestselling author of The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul)
"A heart-warming and sweet story of small-town life and self-discovery.” (Vanessa Greene author of The Vintage Teacup Club)
“The Awakening of Miss Prim reminds me of The Elegance of the Hedgehog.” (Pippa Wright author of The Foster Husband)
“Readers who loved Joanne Harris's Chocolat, Jessica Brockmole's Letters from Skye or Gabrielle Zevin's The Collected Works of AJ Fikry will be charmed by the blossoming of Miss Prim. Already a bestseller in Europe, this charming and intelligent debut novel is certain to be a hit with book groups. Highly recommended.” (US Library Journal)
"Written with intelligence, grace, and style." (Authorexposure.com)
“A captivating story…The Awakening of Miss Prim is an intelligent read that’s more than a little out of the box.” (Writenotereviews.com)
“This book is about…a myriad of things, such as romance, beauty, literature, art, philosophy, and even feminism. But I think that what I love about this book is not so much as the theme, but the fact that it interrogates and questions your beliefs and principles. As readers, we are put into the shoes of Miss Prim as we are slowly being questioned, dismantled, laid bare, and finally awakened to one of the things that we seek in life, and that is beauty.” (Bibliophile’s Reverie, blog review)
“Exactly the kind of story I adore…. There’s a wealth of character development and depth. A variety of topics are explored – religion, philosophy, there’s even a debate on the merits of Mr. Darcy…. I loved every minute.” (The Pretty Good Gatsby, blog review)
“I really enjoyed the feel of this novel. There is something in the authorial voice that feels like Gaiman meets Austen. It is a sweet little feel good story.” (The Readist, blog review)
“It echoes of Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice and Little Women, three of my favorite books. In short, I had fun reading this book, and I think you will too.” (Betsy Reads Books, blog review)
“Something about this book made me inexplicably happy…. It was just delightful.” (My Thoughts…Literally, blog review)
“Written in a style and tradition reminiscent of Pride and Prejudice, The Awakening of Miss Prim tackles what it means to step outside your comfort zone, and how travel and new perspectives can change your entire outlook.… An ideal summer read.” (TheMastersReview.com, review)
“As light and sweet as the homemade pastries that feature prominently on its pages, The Awakening of Miss Prim is a charming fable about the beauty of changing one’s mind.” (Shelf Awareness, Online review)
"An ideal book club read." (Pagecravings.com)
About the Author
Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera is a journalist and has spent the majority of her professional career in the field investigating economic journalism. The Awakening of Miss Prim is her debut novel.
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Top Customer Reviews
Miss Prim arrives in San Ireneo in response to a help wanted ad for a librarian, “Preferably without work experience. Graduates and Postgraduates need not apply.” Though she is sorely overqualified, she persuades The Man in the Wing Chair to give her the job.
Miss Prim seems well-rounded, smart and educated, but when she encounters The Man in the Wing Chair and the characters of the village, her world view is shaken by theirs, but can’t seem to write them off as unreasonable or win an argument.
She is an intellectually stiff woman, dedicated to a secular life, thinking the role of librarian might be a nice change of pace from the busy life she had in the city. But she isn’t prepared for the uncommon household, or uncommon employer, known only to the reader as The Man in the Wing Chair.
As with most every book I read, it takes me a few pages or chapters to acclimate to the writing style, until I don’t notice it anymore and the story starts to pop.
Strangely enough, though I regularly translate first-person experiences into third person objective accounts of travel adventures, in this book, the third-person, subjective POV seemed a little off-putting and stilted at first, but maybe that’s because it was translated from Spanish?
The arguments between the characters seem a little forced, the conversations about certain subjects too deliberate and informational to seem natural.
Of course, like many books painting a picture of a world view and its opponents, this book could have been over in 20 pages if the Miss Prim would have had the guts to stay in a conversation without walking out in a huff every time she felt insulted. But then, we would miss the opportunity to walk through the delightful village of San Ireneo and meet all the key characters.
The story and writing were adequate, the quotes and propositions the book propounded were of the most superb, enjoyable breath of fresh air I’ve read in a long time. For example, the member of the Feminist’s League had this quote from G. K. Chesterton above her fireplace:
Ten thousand women marched through the streets of London saying: “We will not be dictated to,” and then went off to become stenographers.
The village is full of feminists who weren’t angry or stifled, men whose faith, principles and commitments didn’t disintegrate at the sign of a beautiful woman’s affections but with backgrounds entrenched with reality of love, loss, pasts and misunderstandings.
What the author presents are what looks on the face of things, like old, outdated, antiquated ideas, presented in a refreshing light, albeit, an unsubtle light. When Miss Prim eventually stays for a conversation or explanation, the conversation usually involves, “I’m surprised at you …” or “You are young and wouldn’t understand …” somewhat elementary techniques for exposition.
The book is full of characters that go against the grain of the rush of the world, slow down and mean what they say, live what they believe in a way that is so counter-cultural, that it probably will leave a bad taste in many people mouths.
In the end, the book knocks down the proposition that romantic love conquers all, that romantic love, when kindled, should be indulged despite all else, despite faith, despite other commitments, despite reason itself. Within The Man in the Wing Chair's char action the book presents faith as something to run to when all else fails, something better, stronger and more valuable than even romantic love. And that is a breath of fresh air that I laud over and above all the tiny flaws of this book. It gives the story depth, something to stick in my mind, to think about, to reflect on. It does not feed that shallow sugary addiction to easy and uncomplicated pictures of love portrayed in so many contemporary novels.
It broke the rules of popular fiction, but is a international best seller and for this, Miss Fenollera deserves kudos.
It is a timeless tale of charm and wit, and I would write more, but honestly, I'm on my way to read it again, and don't want to wait. It's that much fun to read.
In The Awakening of Miss Prim, the titular young lady is shown to be the very image of the modern, successful woman who is not satisfied with life. Already smitten with a nostalgic view of the "delicacy" of the past, she is willing to start a new life in the romantic little hamlet of San Ireneo. When confronted with the extremely traditionalist denizens of the town, however, Prim is forced to confront the central and most interesting tenet of the novel: to what extent can one extricate the beauty and stability of tradition from its mores and values?
In answering this question Fenollera is not afraid to attack directly and aggressively modern notions of progress. Here, to some extent, the novel falters. Arguments for tradition and old world values appear unanswerable, while halfhearted defenses of modernity and progress are easily cast aside. Perhaps this was Fenollera's intention, but the result is a novel that seems to sing too eagerly for the choir, but considering that most contemporary fiction (especially "women's" contemporary fiction) has embraced progressive liberalism in toto, an extreme reaction in the other direction may be justified. The novel also suffers from occasional bouts of poor and inconsistent diction, especially in regards to characterization, but this might very well be a result of translation.
I would recommend The Awakening of Miss Prim to fans of Austen, the Bronte Sisters, and the apologists of the 19th and early 20th century. General fans of cerebral contemporary fiction might also appreciate a very unique, if somewhat polemical, perspective.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I was disappointed with the book on all levels.Read more