Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Review: Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

On scholarship at a prestigious East Coast college, ordinary Mabel Dagmar is surprised to befriend her roommate, the beautiful, blue-blooded Genevra Winslow. Ev invites Mabel to spend the summer at Bittersweet, her cottage on the Vermont estate where her family has been holding court for more than a century; it's the kind of place where swimming boldly is required and the children twirl sparklers across the lawn during cocktail hour. Mabel falls in love with the midnight skinny-dips, the wet dog smell lingering in the air, the moneyed laughter carrying across the still lake, and before she knows it, she has everything she's ever wanted: wealth, friendship, a boyfriend, and, most of all, the sense, for the first time in her life, that she belongs.

But as Mabel becomes an insider, she makes a terrible discovery, which leads to shocking violence and the revelation of the true source of the Winslows' fortune. Mabel must choose: either expose the ugliness surrounding her and face expulsion from paradise, or keep the family’s dark secrets and redefine what is good and what is evil, in the interest of what can be hers.

Hardcover, 400 pages
Expected publication: May 13th 2014 by Crown
Terri's Review:
I received an advanced copy of this book from Random House Crown via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is May 13, 2014.
I really don't know where to start with this story.  There were so many characters that I disliked (almost all) yet I kept reading to find out more.
  • The descriptive narrative on the scenery surrounding Winloch was just beautiful.  I could picture myself taking in the lakeside, enjoying the cottages and spending the day just doing nothing there.  The setting for the story was where the strength in the plot came
  • The pure amount of dogs - what can I say I love dogs!
  • The character of Indo - I loved her eccentricity
  • The "bad guys", the played the part well if just a bit predictable  

I had two major problems with the story
  • It took too long to get to the point of what the secrets were.  We knew there were secrets but Mabel was running around chasing something she didn't know until we neared the end.  Yes we knew some of the people were creepy but there was a lack of hints along the way to justify Mabel continuing her quest.  This made the story too long.
  • I simply could not identify with Mabel and in turn did not like her very much.  I get that she wanted the feeling of belonging and that she wanted to be part of something.  Every female has felt like this at some point in their life.  The problem was that she seemed to take it too far.  She was obsessed with the Winslow family and in turn a lot of her decisions and actions seemed selfish and annoying.  Her actions made one think that she felt she deserved a birthright that was not hers.  I really didn't like her.
To sum it up this was an enjoyable yet slightly flawed read for me.  The ending was predictable however satisfying.  The highlight without a doubt is the setting in which the story took place.

About the Author

From Goodreads profile

I write novels. My third, Bittersweet (due out from Crown in May), is set at the home on Lake Champlain where I spent my summers as a little girl. But that’s where the resemblance to life ends—the place, renamed Winloch in the book—is inhabited by a family of bad people. I wrote Bittersweet for people like me, who love The Secret History and The Emperor’s Children; it’s a literary beach read.

My first two novels were published in 2005 and 2007.

Based in some part on my own experience being photographed by two fine arts photographers, Jock Sturges and Mona Kuhn, I started my first novel, The Effects of Light, to answer the question most Americans seemed to ask when I explained this photographic work to them—would I still love it if an innocent died because that work had been made? My second novel, Set Me Free, was based in part on the time I spent on the Crow reservation in highschool, the legacy of my countercultural parents, and the complications of their generation of liberal do-gooders. The book was also an homage to my theater school-aged days and based on The Tempest.

Check out more about me and my work at and Twitter: @MirandaBW. Also, check out my web project about girlhood friendship:


Twitter:  MirandaBW

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