My Goodreads review:
I have to admit that I am not entirely sure if this book deserves four stars or five. Maybe it is just four. But I have been having a couple of those days where my mood is just all over the map, and I simply feel worn out, and now I do actually feel better after finishing this. This little book (and it is little, and it looks pretty) is funny, very much like Jane Austen, and while it does have it’s tense, wondering what’s going to happen moments, it has a certain degree of freedom in its reality–e.g. a certain character having a child from an unapproved marriage (by her parents), and presents the idea of not marrying and being able to do what one truly wants to–such as following artistic endeavors.
There are a lot of Austen-like references–Pride and Prejudice and Emma are the two that pop to mind first. I liked Mr. Fredericks from the start simply because he seemed to be the only one that was looking at the world who wasn’t wearing rose-tinted glasses and saw things for what they were, and also because he was kind to Alexander. So did Althea, but she was still caught up in the necessity for marriage, trying to arrange things she thought would help but didn’t, and in some cases making things worse–things started to get a little out of control. Much like the castle, with all of its jutting turrets and odd angles, Althea is trying to fit into a world she doesn’t quite understand–all the knows is that she needs to marry for money to keep Crooked Castle. But what, really, is the point of keeping such a monstrosity, as eccentric and endearing as it may be? All she and her mother have been doing, their whole lives, it to pour money into this decrepit thing, which, as Mr. Fredericks pointed out, doesn’t have a strong enough foundation to even stand on.
Getting into my symbolism mode here, I think Crooked Castle could be used as a metaphor for marriages where the two people don’t have much in common. They try to make it work, and it gets edges and goes off in all directions. If they can keep the big storms at bay, maybe the foundation with survive. Maybe the Baron (Boring lol) and Charity will be able to succeed in their marriage as neither of them are particularly deep thinkers. Miss Vincy will work things out. Althea and her Mother will both be happy. I loved the fact that Mr. Fredericks proposes to Althea as Crooked Castle is continuing to crash over the cliff a little bit at a time–a few chairs, other bits of things. As the impossible thing Althea was trying to save is destroyed, a whole new life opens up for her, one far more pleasant than living in a leaky, damp, drafty, cold castle.