Monday, July 11, 2011

Wisdom's Kiss by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Princess Wisdom of Montagne is going to marry the Duke of Farina, mostly so she could see a bit of the world.  Trudy, an orphaned tavern wench who can sense what will happen in the future, learns that her dear friend Tips, who's supposedly a solider currently stationed in Farina, is delighted with the chance to act as Wisdom's lady's maid in order to see him.  Tips has a secret he's been hiding from Trudy for years.  What begins as a simple journey to a wedding becomes much more as magic, dastardly plots and love make everything much more confusing.

I had trouble with this.  First was that it was told in eight different points of view.  There was Trudy, Wisdom, Tips, Nonna Ben (Wisdom's grandmother), the Duke of Farina's mother Wilhelmina, entries from the Imperial Encyclopedia of Lax, a play about the events that were going on, and master swordsman Felis el Gato.  It was a lot, and I had trouble connecting with any of the characters due to the constantly switching point of views.  I found myself skimming over the encyclopedia entries, which gave background about people and places.  The play felt out of place.  So I could have done with a lot less points of view and I think it would have felt less choppy.

My next problem was that aside from the point of view preventing me from connecting with any of the characters, their personalities did as well.  Trudy spent the whole book mooning over Tips and crying.  Tips came off as a total dolt.  Wisdom came off as prickly and cold.  Therefore I couldn't understand what Wisdom and Tips saw in each other, because thinking each other was pretty.  Tips at one point tells Trudy all the things he loves about Wisdom - her bravery, how she doesn't act like royalty, her kindness, etc., but aside from the bravery none of the other qualities had been shown anywhere else, not even from Wisdom or her grandmother's own points of view.

While I didn't really like this, I can definitely see middle grades girls enjoying it, especially those that have read Princess Ben.

Oh, last thing, the title.  The title was not working for me.  I wasn't surprised when I read the Q&A with the author at the end of the book that she'd had trouble coming up with a good title and someone had suggested "Wisdom's Kiss" and then she went back and rewrote some things to make sure the phrase showed up in the book.  It doesn't make any sense.  It was a tiny part of the book, and what was "Wisdom's kiss?"  I didn't understand, even in the context of the book.  It just felt awkward, and, well, forced.

Wisdom's Kiss will be available September 13.

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