Sometimes I feel like such an oddball on Goodreads. What people love and rave about, I often find them not exactly my cup of tea. What people find not so great, I like a great deal.
That is the case with To Sir Phillip, with Love.
I read lots of reviews about the Bridgertons' stories. But I work my way slowly through them. Now I finally got to Eloise Bridgerton's story. It doesn't seem to be so well received. But I thought the relationship between Eloise and Phillip rather endearing, except for the last 20% when Phillip became a sex-crazed animal because he had not had sex for 8 years.
Eloise was 28 and single. She was pretty. She had a good social standing. She was smart. But she was single. It started bothering her after her best friend Penelope married her older brother Colin. She always thought, if one of them was going to get out of spinsterhood, it would be her, not Penelope.
A year before Penelope and Colin got married, Eloise started a secret correspondence with a country landowner, Sir Phillip Crane, a widower whose late wife was Eloise's cousin. It all started innocently enough and went on innocently for its entire duration. When Eloise was wallowing in self-doubt after her best friend married her brother when she received THE letter from Phillip. In said letter, Phillip, in his practical academic way, extended an invitation to Eloise with honorable intentions, to a visit to his home. It was his suggestion, that they could use the time to get to know each other.
So Eloise, being in the state of mind that she was, accepted, albeit without first conveying her acceptance beforehand to Phillip.
Phillip is a complex character. He had a rahter miserable marriage with his late wife but remained steadfast and faithful. He is by no means a boring character, even though I could see why he may be for some people. I personally find him charming. A giant of a man whose legs and arms are too long for his peace of mind. He thought Eloise would be rather eager to marry him, considering her advanced age of 28. He needed, quite honestly, a warm body in bed (a man has needs), a housekeeper for his estates (a man cannot be bothered with household accounts), and most importantly, a mother for his children (a man is a man, not a mother). He meant well. He really did. He thought it would be a mutually beneficial "arrangement".
Only that Eloise was not what he imagined her to be. He had expected a homely woman, not a pretty lady who was still single only because she was holding out for that "special spark".
So Eloise showed up. Phillip was floored. What was this pretty woman doing being single and why would she ever be interested in marring a practical stranger?
Their first few days as host and house guest were uncomfortable, to say the least. On paper they exchanged opinions and thoughts freely. Now standing face to face with marriage prospects hanging over their heads, they both were uncertain. But they were attracted to each other. This was obvious from their first meeting. But is this a good base for marriage?
Then incidents and incidents ensured, allowed them to come closer to each other. Phillip was smitten. Eloise hoped to be more than just his children's mother. I thought the relationship really sweet. Did he like me? Would she be content being married to me? I quite of liked him/her but would he/she return the affections? Physical attraction was present and Phillip had demonstrated that they "would suit". Now I can never think of "would suit" without having THAT picutre in mind. All in all, a charming story with 2 well-developed characters.
To be honest, the last 20% of the book SUCKED. Once they got married. Phillip was content to have Eloise as a sex partner, a housekeeper and a nanny for his children. He seemed almost lazy, leaving everything to Eloise and only coming to her at night to satisfy his "apptites". The charms in the relationship and in the character of Phillip almost disappeared. It is what we all fear: marriage is the end of romance. The last few chapters were devoted to Phillip's change in his attitude to his children and Eloise. He had to go from oh this woman gave me funny feelings to oh you are the love of my life. I thought the change was not nicely done. I could see how he warmed up to the children quickly. They were his kids after all and he by nature, wanted to be a good father. But his moment of truth, his realization that Eloise was THE ONE, came too hastily for my taste. I think they needed to weather a little more challenges before they could realize that they were truly blessed with each other.
Despite a rather anti-climatic ending, I really enjoyed reading the story of Eloise and Phillip. It wasn't angsty but it has an emotional depth. Both Eloise and Phillip are more than what meets the eyes. The relationship developed steadily and gradually until the last 20%. I could do without the children and their pranks though. But it is what it is.