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The Beautiful Ones: A Novel Hardcover – October 24, 2017
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From School Library Journal
In a Belle Epoque—inspired setting, the author of Signal to Noise and Certain Dark Things tries her hand at romance with excellent results. Hector Auvray, a world-renowned telekinetic performer, has returned to the posh city of Loisail after years away with one purpose in mind—to see Valérie Beaulieu, his former fiancée, who broke their engagement to marry for money and security instead of the passionate love they shared. He decides to court Antonina Beaulieu, Valérie's husband's young country cousin, who has telekinetic powers of her own and doesn't quite fit in during her first Grand Season. Unaware of the part that she is playing in the bigger plot, the curious and awkward Antonina falls for the mysterious Hector, especially because he accepts her abilities. This novel of manners presents carefully crafted characters with nuanced motivations to rival any Thomas Hardy classic. Moreno-Garcia adeptly captures the ecstatic highs of first love and the bitter disappointments of first heartbreak. Hints of the paranormal and dashes of adventure and feminism are subtly interwoven, making for an unforgettable work. VERDICT A must-have where Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, and romance are popular.—Shelley M. Diaz, School Library Journal
“Moreno-Garcia fills her fantastic novel of manners with sumptuous language…Readers who enjoyed Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist Histories magical Regency series will be particularly enthralled by the genuine emotions evoked in the course of the unsustainable love triangle.” – Publishers Weekly
“Overflowing with delicious melodrama … a great fit for fans of the 18th-century French classic Les Liaisons Dangereuses.” – Library Journal
“This elegant tale of hidden desires and misplaced amour will appeal to fans of historical fantasy.” – Booklist
“The Beautiful Ones is an elegantly paced novel that moves its characters into place with ease, with careful attention paid to ways a word or a moment can change an entire life.” – Book Page
“Many of Moreno-Garcia’s characters do terrible, despicable things to hurt each other and profit personally in this book, but that’s what keeps them and the narrative interesting. It’s a slow-burn, stately novel about the magic of what it means to love, and love truly.” – Tor.com
“Readers who enjoy light speculative elements, historical fantasy, romance, and beautiful prose will find a trove. Straddling several genres with elegant intelligence, The Beautiful Ones is both an easy read and a fulfilling one.” – Locus
“This is the third novel I read by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and I loved all of them in different ways: each in a different genre by a chameleon writer with incredible writing skills.” – Kirkus
“The Beautiful Ones is a hauntingly lovely book, romantic and crushing by turns, touched with magic on every level.” – Vancouver Sun
“The whole book is a magnificent tangle of unspoken words and feelings. Nothing is tepid; everything, even the absence of feelings, is charged with danger and heartache. ” – Strange Horizons
“Certain people in the world of The Beautiful Ones have telekinetic abilities, but while these abilities do play an important part in the story, this is not a story of magic unless it’s the magic of the human heart.” – FantasyLiterature.com
“I never quite knew how the story was going to play out with betrayal going on, misunderstandings happening and heartbreak occurring. Overall, I definitely recommend this one.” – Literary Dust
Top customer reviews
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I don't consider myself a romance reader, so my knowledge of genre standards, etc. is a bit lacking (so, if you are, I might make you mad by mixing up some things about the genre in general in this review). That said, here's what I can say about THE BEAUTIFUL ONES...
The first 100 pages felt very slow. I really wanted something more to happen--my previous experience with the author's work definitely colored that expectation, but I did my best to focus just on this work and what was going on. When the first major event (by my feeling) unravels just around the 100th page, I felt a LOT of emotions I didn't expect. That's when I realized all the work that was actually laid out in that 100 pages, so expertly. Where I thought I didn't care about the main character, I discovered I had very much--and very subtly--connected to her through the events building to that moment.
I would describe this book as a Regency Romance and mean it in both the sense of the romance novels that rose up in the 1960s that took place during the Regency era with all those cultural touchstones of high society courtship, etc. AND with Jane Austen's work in the sense of it being a 'novel of manners' and a slower pacing.
For a touch of the 'weird', there is a little bit of telekines in this world. I particularly enjoyed the way it was woven into the story as just another fact of the world, just like the ebb and flow of social seasons and social standing. I could very much have enjoyed more exploration of what that's like in this setting, but understood how there wasn't room for it in this particular story.
If you like Austen & Bronte and are looking for a slower paced romance that doesn't start replacing story with sex scenes once the love interests get together... I heartily recommend THE BEAUTIFUL ONES.
Moreno-Garcia juggles three perspectives and does a masterful job of fleshing out each character, making them feel real to the reader and allowing each to have their strengths as well as their faults. Nina is more comfortable trying to catch beetles and butterflies than a potential husband. Not the kind of young woman that suitors line up for in a city like Loisail, Nina finds rules regarding etiquette to be stifling. It doesn’t help that her telekinetic ability often manifests at inopportune times. While those in Loisail can appreciate such a talent as a means of entertainment, it is not something suitable for ladies to display. Nina is markedly younger than the other two characters and it very much shows. Hopelessly romantic and naive about the world, Nina is easily taken in. She believes the very best about people because she has never been exposed to those who would use others for their own gain. Her inexperience opens her up to plenty of heartache. Though her openness was one of the first things I admired about her, her growth as a character made me appreciate her even more. I loved that Moreno-Garcia took the most humble of the three characters and allowed her to develop and show strength unparalleled.
Hector is not a character that you immediately fall in love with. Yes, in some ways, he can be seen as simply a tragic figure. Coming from nothing, Hector has managed to accumulate the kind of wealth that people in Loisail are either born with or marry into. While trying to recognize this dream, he ended up losing his first love in the process. His choice to court Nina only as a means to get close to another instinctively made me bristle. That being said, his is a really rewarding character arc as he is forced to confront his own naivety. Even as a grown man, he still has a lot to learn. Hector learns to see the past and present how they are and now how he wishes them to be.
At times I wanted to dislike Valérie wholeheartedly, but Moreno-Garcia has created such a complicated character that it’s difficult not to admire her in some way. Valérie was pressured into marrying Nina’s cousin Gaeten in order to save her family from financial ruin. But lest you think she is some tragic figure, Valérie is also vain, resentful, and prone to jealousy. She often regards Nina with disdain because, unlike her, Nina has more freedom to choose who she marries. Nina also has the love of her cousin, something Valérie doesn’t necessarily want, but which her proud personality demands. She’s an incredibly manipulative person who is much more comfortable being cruel than sentimental. For her, loving someone means they have power over her and she refuses to be under another’s thumb. There’s no way to justify Valérie’s every decision, but because she is such a well-developed character, I understood why she did the things she did and this ultimately made her an exceptional antagonist.
The Beautiful Ones showcases just how versatile and gifted a writer Silvia Moreno-Garcia is. The world she builds is very easy to fall in love with and my only criticism is that I wanted to see more of the telekinetic aspect. Still, there are few books that leave me feeling completely satisfied and The Beautiful Ones is one of them.
They're also both telekinetics, but that's not something advertised in polite society.
Don't let your expectations turn you off: I've read Moreno-Garcia's "Signal to Noise" and "Certain Dark Things," and frankly this book contains an antagonist more monstrous than any character in either. While I am not typically a reader of romance I found the emotional conflict to be deftly handled; all incidents of miscommunication and emotional missteps are firmly rooted in the characters' psychology, not plot contrivance. I was engaged by the wide range of love on display. Besides a "traditional" romance we see the suffocating love of control and obsession, the crippling love of building your sense of identity around a relationship with another. Toxic love and fulfilling love. This range made the book for me, and added both contrast to the primary relationship and depth to the antagonist. There's also a lot of social commentary happening in the background, though I urge people to excavate that for themselves. Many of this novel's joys would be diminished by spoiling them.
TL;DR: I picked up the Audible copy to listen to while I walked, and at one point this book made me go "FUUUUUUUUUU-" in the middle of the park, so yeah, I give it a recommendation.
Most recent customer reviews
Okay, right off the bat I wasn’t crazy about his one. The blurb promised me telekinesis and I expected this big paranormal world with hidden...Read more