Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Review - Suite Scarlett / Maureen Johnson

Summary - Scarlett is the third of four children in the Martin family. The Martins live in and manage a shabby hotel in NYC that dates back to the 1920s. When Scarlett turns 15, she is put in charge of one of the hotel's 27 rooms- the Empire Suite. Into this room moves Mrs. Amberson, a failed 1970s starlet who has returned to New York to write her memoirs. Soon, Scarlett is taking dictation, running around town with Mrs. Amberson, and getting caught up in her Auntie Mame-meets-Bianca Jagger adventures. In the midst of all this, Scarlett falls in love - or so she thinks - and it takes Mrs. Amberson to help her see the light.

Review - It's a truth universally acknowledged that Adele prefers Maureen Johnson's secondary characters over her protagonists. Suite Scarlett was a cute read - it was fun, frothy and focused on the apple of every YA blogger's eye, Spencer. It has a nice heart, some nice introspection but it failed to rock my world.

First of all, Spencer is great in that he's the male focus of this novel, being the big brother rather than the love interest. He's funny, he's charming, he's flawed. Like 13 Little Blue Envelopes, I found the protagonist (Scarlett) to be a little blah. Johnson tends to overwhelm her leading ladies with swirling events and larger than life secondary characters. Ultimately, it is these characters that you remember, the kooky Spencer, the dramatic Mrs Amberson and the tantrum-throwing Marlene.

While I have been critical, I did enjoy Suite Scarlett. The protagonist learns that her brother is fallible, her older sister isn't an icicle and her little sister has a heart. The love interest Eric is blandly tolerable, which is kinda the point with the events that occur. I couldn't help but wish the novel was from Spencer's or Lola's point of view, which could be a reflection of my age. Regardless, it was a fun, light read.

Published: May 2008
Format: Hardback, pages
Publisher: Scholatic
Origin: USA
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Note - I am not giving up, I have purchased Girl At Sea with the hopes I will be won over by MJ's books (rather than just her blog).


Melanie said...

I won this book in a contest recently, and I'm looking forward to it. It'll be my first Maureen Johnson book. Her blog is absolutely lovely!

deltay said...

I really like Maureen Johnson's blog entries as well - almost like little stories in and of themselves! haha love the opening line of your review "It's a truth universally acknowledged that Adele prefers Maureen Johnson's secondary characters over her protagonists." Overall, it sounds like an enjoyable story.

btw - your layout's now purple!

prophecygirl said...

I've never read an MJ book, but I think I need to. I might start with SS, then 13 Envelopes. Nice review!