The Awakening of Miss Prim, by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera

The Awakening of Miss Prim, by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera

I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley. All content and opinions are my own.

When I read the blurb about this book, I was intrigued and ready to be charmed. Here’s the blurb:

Prudencia Prim is a young woman of intelligence and achievement, with a deep knowledge of literature and several letters after her name. But when she accepts the post of private librarian in the village of San Ireneo de Arnois, she is unprepared for what she encounters there. Her employer, a book-loving intellectual, is dashing yet contrarian, always ready with a critique of her cherished Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott. The neighbors, too, are capable of charm and eccentricity in equal measure, determined as they are to preserve their singular little community from the modern world outside.

Prudencia hoped for friendship in San Ireneo but she didn’t suspect that she might find love—nor that the course of her new life would run quite so rocky or would offer challenge and heartache as well as joy, discovery, and fireside debate. Set against a backdrop of steaming cups of tea, freshly baked cakes, and lovely company, The Awakening of Miss Prim is a distinctive and delightfully entertaining tale of literature, philosophy, and the search for happiness.

Unfortunately, I was not particularly charmed by this book, though I did like aspects of it. Ooh. I feel a pro/con list coming on.

Pros

  • Interesting characters! I enjoyed a lot of the characters, including Miss Prim, but I didn’t quite get to spend enough time with any of them.
  • Small town charm! And a bit of mystery (and confusion) about why this little enclave was founded and how it worked.
  • Relatively readability! I read this very slowly during my work lunches. I wasn’t compelled to read more, but I did look forward to reading it.
  • A library and a librarian! Need I say more?

Cons

  • Confusion! I was confused about pretty much everything in this book. What time period were we in? Where were we? How old is the main character? Why is everyone here in this village?
  • Disjointedness! The scenes seemed choppy and didn’t flow well together.
  • Annoying name of the love interest! The man in the book is referred to constantly as “the Man in the Wingchair.” It was cute for a second and then just made me cringe.
  • Confusing philosophical, educational, religious, and feminist views! I still have no idea where this book lands on the questions it raises.
  • Open-ended ending! I felt like the ending was a bit of a cop-out.  It came too abruptly and did not resolve any of the issues posed by the book.

I know some of these problems could be attributed to the fact that this is a work in translation, but the fact remains that The Awakening of Miss Prim just didn’t work very well for me.