Saturday, November 12, 2011
The Mouth of Truth by Isobel Chace
Domenico Manzu was like no one else she had ever met, and Deborah hadn't the remotest idea how to cope with him.
If she'd heeded her father's warning, she'd never have come to Rome. Now here she was, virtually kidnapped yet treated like a guest.
Domenico was a very charming villain. But Deborah knew that while he had captured her person, she'd be a fool if she allowed him to capture her heart!
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** Contains Moderate Spoilers**
I first read this book several years ago, probably sometime in the early-mid 1990s, and liked it fairly well for some reason then. Well enough that it stuck in my mind when most other books of this sort all ran together eventually in my head. Waxing a bit nostalgic earlier this year, I tracked down copies of a few of the old books like this I remembered, and read this one again. And, well, let's just say my opinion of it this time around was much lower.
Deborah is annoying, naive, gullible, etc. beyond belief, even making allowances for the time period it was written in (and I'm generally prepared to make quite a few allowances for such). She's a spoiled little rich girl who thinks she's all grown up and independant at all of 19 or something like that, not realizing just how sheltered she truly is still, and apparently without a brain in her head. While she seems ok at the very first of the book, she rapidly loses credibility and believability when she gets to Rome with her friends. Where one of the first things that happens is that she is "kidnapped" by a man she's never met. I use the term a bit loosely, because as I recall, she actually gets into the car with him pretty willingly, without really asking any questions. He tells her to get in the car and after some token resistance she does so. She tries to make a show of wanting to get away and blathers about being held against her will, but I'm not sure she's even convincing herself of the fact, and she certainly doesn't do very well at convincing the reader, for she mostly seems pretty OK with her situation, and outside of one half-hearted, lame attempt at escape, she just goes along with things and does as she's told.
There is also the usual string of misunderstandings to add "conflict", and as usual, most of them stem from the young, naive bimbo, er, female character, making assumptions that she accepts as gospel truth and never questions them. Not until it's all explained to her finally in unmistakable terms...slowly...probably with pictures so she can catch on easier. Deborah actually clings stubbornly to her naivete and misconceptions more than most of "heroines" of these books do. It takes a LOT to finally convince her that her so-called boyfriend Michael was only ever interested in her for her father's money, and that he doesn't consider she could ever be a serious artist because she's a woman. I could go on at length about how aggravating she is, and how idiotic the whole scenario is for the most part, but I'll leave it at what I've said so far since I think it gives enough of a picture of her.
So why did I give it 2 stars and not just 1? Well, it does have a few slightly redeeming qualities to it. Domenico is a good character, a strong, mature man, who is surprisingly patient with Deboarah's spoiled rich girl antics. And the few bits of lore we learn about Rome, such as the story of The Mouth of Truth, are interesting. So...it was worth 2 stars I think, but really? Don't waste your time on this one, and certainly don't waste any money on it.