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A Promise of Spring by Mary Balogh
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Jane A



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 760
Location: So Cal

PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tee wrote:

But, really, what totally turned me off to Promise of Spring was the story itself. It was slow and boring, really, with the characters not adding any spice to it. I questioned a lot of the details and couldn't come to grips about many of them, especially the "secret" and how all that was finally handled, which was not well at all.


Yes, this is a good synopsis of why I disliked this book. I found the H/h not just boring but ultimately unlikeable.
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1664

PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cobbsouth wrote:
I think part of the problem for me is that, sadly, women in general don't age as well as men. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say age is kinder to men than women. It's always interesting to me to look at 50th anniversary photos in the newspaper, especially those that show the couple's wedding picture along with a current picture. Often (though not always) the man has grown more distinguished-looking even though he may have gained weight, while the woman looks heavier and (for lack of a better word) frumpier. In an age without natural-looking cosmetics and hair color (to say nothing of cosmetic surgery!), I would think this difference would be even more apparent, and I would be concerned about how that difference might affect the relationship. For a current example, look at Demi Moore and Ashton Kucher. Although Demi is still striking for a middle aged woman, the age difference between them had become painfully obvious. Was anyone really surprised when he went looking elsewhere? Disappointed, maybe, but not surprised.


I found this interesting, because more and more I find it is the women who age better. Women color their hair, get flattering haircuts, and learn how to dress to set off their (aging) bodies. Men seem to believe that comb overs are all that is needed.

Of course, I'm biased because I'm older than my husband. Less than 3 months older, but still older. I've several friends and relatives who are also older than their husbands. None as much as the 10 years in Balogh's book, the differences range from 4 hours to 6 years, and all of them are long-lasting marriages. I think that the comment about maturity is important, however, because all of these couples were married in their late 20s/early 30s. At that age one is a fully formed human being. That's why I don't like 18 y.o. marrying 32 y.o., because the younger person is not the same person he or she will be when older, and the choices they make in their teens may not be the same choices they would make in their 20s.

Like Natalie, I much prefer smaller age differences (<5 years) no matter who is older, and as PWNN noted, it's not necessarily historically correct to say that back in the day all the husbands were much older -- in fact, the age differences weren't all that different from today. Most brides weren't all that young either, as the era in American history when the brides were youngest was the 1950s, not the 1800s. But even in the 1950s the grooms were young too, so the age differential wasn't all that great.
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JudyZ6666



Joined: 07 Jul 2011
Posts: 192
Location: Connecticut, USA

PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Susan/DC wrote:


Of course, I'm biased because I'm older than my husband. Less than 3 months older, but still older. I've several friends and relatives who are also older than their husbands. None as much as the 10 years in Balogh's book, the differences range from 4 hours to 6 years, and all of them are long-lasting marriages. I think that the comment about maturity is important, however, because all of these couples were married in their late 20s/early 30s. At that age one is a fully formed human being. That's why I don't like 18 y.o. marrying 32 y.o., because the younger person is not the same person he or she will be when older, and the choices they make in their teens may not be the same choices they would make in their 20s.


I guess I'm in the same boat. Once you're in your late 20's, who cares? I do agree that women mature faster than men, but, at some point, don't men mature, too?

I've read a couple of contemporaries lately (Julie Miller has two older-heroine books where the diff is 9-10 years--the younger of the two heroes is an undercover cop who has seen enough of life where his maturity isn't in question) that were realistic. Jo Beverley's novella "The Demon's Mistress" is also convincing--in fact, the scene where he convinces her that the age difference doesn't matter is quite emotional (he was in the army, and gives her visual/verbal proof of his life experience through his drawings).

My grandmother was 3 years older than my grandfather, so I guess the set-up doesn't bother me. I couldn't even put a figure on the age difference that does. It really depends on how the characters are...characterized.

That said, "A Promise of Spring" is one of the few Mary Balogh's that I have not read. Now, I need to run off and read it. Smile My main reason for not doing so is that I have not yet read a post-written "prequel" that I liked. I don't know why. Are they "gimmes" for the author, or are there too many constraints? They tend to disappoint.

Judy
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LFL



Joined: 05 May 2007
Posts: 703

PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My problems with A Promise of Spring had nothing to do with the characters' age difference. I loved LaVyrle Spencer's Family Blessings in which the heroine is 15 years older than the hero. But A Promise of Spring didn't work for me because the plot was everything in the kitchen sink, every conflict was rushed instead of properly resolved, both characters behaved in TSTL ways -- Perry especially -- and (less importantly) the age difference was dwelled on to a ridiculous degree.

SPOILER (in white font): At the point in which Gareth sent Grace a love letter and she brought it to Perry to read together, and Perry sent her away to deal with it on her own, I was just completely disgusted with Perry and exasperated with the author for dragging out the conflict in such a contrived way. I've loved bunches of Balogh's regencies (including The Temporary Wife) but this one, after the wonderful opening, just kept going downhill.
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PWNN



Joined: 11 Apr 2010
Posts: 912

PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the the belief that men age better than women stems from a time when women had a lot of children and wear and tear and men were more physically active (for work and play) as well as the belief that any wrinkle on a man was a sign of character and on a woman was a flaw. The world has changed a lot for both genders - in reality and perception and I think differences in looks as we age have become even more to do with lifestyle and income. Let's compare 60 somethings Helen Mirren and Keith Richards. Razz

As for a difference in maturity, I've noticed it most around age 11 and 14. By 18 or 19 I noticed friends wanted older guys usually because they had better cars and jobs ($) - not necessarily for the most mature of reasons. Wink

While some women have married very young in history even though the average is far higher than Romances portray (so tired of 21 yr olds in Regencies calling themselves on the shelf - Elizabeth Bennett didn't consider herself so - neither did 28 yr old Miss Bingley) I think women being expected to or wanting to marry earlier than men wasn't because of maturity but because by the time they're a teen most of their very narrow life path was set - wife and mother.

They're supposedly ready for the next stage but their life experience is so much narrower than their male counterparts at the same age. They don't get sent away to school at age 7, they don't go to university, they they don't take the tour and travel, they don't sow their wild oats, they don't have to establish a career or go to war. I'm hard pressed to consider a sheltered Regency Miss of 22 as mature as her male counterpart (who probably survived Public School and Waterloo) - when it's usually just that she's been sitting around waiting for the next stage to happen for longer because she's not been allowed or expected to do anything else.
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bavarian



Joined: 16 Jul 2007
Posts: 175
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the picture we get painted in romance about the age in which people were married in the regency period is pure fantasy.

First there is the question of class. Take the lower classes: Often the young men had to marry (much) older women, mostly widows, to get a shop or crafts enterprise as there were many restrictions for opening a new one.
Or think of the younger sons of a farmer or even a nobleman who married an only daughter and heiress or a widow to get his own property.

Second, concerning all classes: One did n o t marry for love! Marriage was a business arrangement were the age was just an afterthought. Property, holdings were what counted. So wives ten or more years older than their husbands were not uncommon.

Another interesting aspect: I've read a paper that the relatively high age of many women at the time of their marriage was a form of natural birth control!

Naturally there were many reasons to marry a younger women too - if the man had the possibilty (wealth and so on) to choose between a young and an older wife! - : a young girl could better be formed to an obedient wife than a more mature woman, the child bearing age was longer and she could care for her aging husband.
And now I think I will read TPoS even if I don't like the topic of an older love interest interfering in a marriage.
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