Bittersweet: A Novel
Bittersweet exposes the gothic underbelly of an idyllic world of privilege and an outsider’s hunger to belong.
Synopsis: On scholarship at a prestigious East Coast college, ordinary Mabel Dagmar is surprised to befriend her roommate, the beautiful, wild, blue-blooded Genevra Winslow. Ev invites Mabel to spend the summer at Bittersweet, her cottage on the Vermont estate where her family has been holding court for more than a century; it’s the kind of place where children twirl sparklers across the lawn during cocktail hour. Mabel falls in love with midnight skinny-dipping, the wet dog smell that lingers near the yachts, and the moneyed laughter that carries across the still lake while fireworks burst overhead. Before she knows it, she has everything she’s ever wanted: friendship, a boyfriend, access to wealth, and, most of all, for the first time in her life, the sense that she belongs. But as Mabel becomes an insider, a terrible discovery leads to shocking violence and reveals what the Winslows may have done to keep their power intact – and what they might do to anyone who threatens them. Mabel must choose: either expose the ugliness surrounding her and face expulsion from paradise, or keep the family’s dark secrets and make Ev’s world her own.
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I really wanted to like this book. I really did. The premise is right up my alley: a mystery set at a wealthy family estate. I’m not sure why, but I was thinking it would be like the movie, April Fools Day meets Nancy Drew. Unfortunately, it was more like a bad version of a V.C. Andrews book.
In many books there are characters you love to hate, but these characters I just hated. They were rude, spoiled, and plain awful. Characters matter a great deal to me, so when I read a book with characters I really don’t care for, that pretty much seals the book’s fate. When you get to the middle of the book and can care less what happens to the characters, you know something is wrong. The story was also a bit slow and dragged in parts. I often found myself skipping quite a bit of pages at a time. I am also not a fan of dirty books. The foul language and gratuitous sex really turned me off.
Now for the positive: I really like the cover. The picture of the house on the lake was one of the main reasons why I picked up this book, the other being the book summary. And overall, it was a very well-written book. I especially enjoyed the descriptive scenes of the lake and cabin.
I’m going to have to give this book 1.5 stars (the extra half for the cover and premise). I guess I had completely different expectations for this book. Unfortunately, it wasn’t at all what I had hoped it would be. This book just was not my cup of tea.
Thank you to Blogging with Books for sending me an advance reader’s copy in exchange for my honest review!