Wednesday, October 30, 2013

G208 Book Review of Gracious Living Without Servants by Brenda Cronin

Name of Book: Gracious Living Without Servants

Author: Brenda Cronin

ISBN: 9780985233839

Publisher: Stoneslide corrective

Type of book: 1991, widowhood, May/December romance, newspaper, investigation, reporter, wealth, Washington area

Year it was published: 2013


Juliet has done the right thing all her life, and where’s it gotten her? She’s a thirty-year-old widow who’s had to move in with her parents.
Things start to look up when her glamorous—but married and much older—neighbor Seth seems to be flirting with her and his wife helps her land a job at a local paper.
Then she’s assigned to investigate Seth’s wife. Juliet is quickly immersed in lies, manipulation, and a deepening sex scandal. But she feels alive for the first time in a long time.
Maybe she needs to do the wrong thing for once. Or maybe she’s headed for disaster.


There's actually very little back-story on Juliet and her marriage. The reader is given only snippets here and there, but nothing on how marriage has shaped Juliet and so forth. Juliet is best described as fair, doesn't back down easy and not very sentimental when it comes to her relationships. She is a very strong character and doesn't let anyone or anything deter her from justice. Seth is best described as a perpetual playboy yet he continues to stay married to Naomi, he's also not a talented lawyer and he's concerned with appearances. He prefers to do his own thing and doesn't share much interests with Naomi. Naomi is best described as generous, messy and she might also take advantage of people. I think she also is in the moment and doesn't think whether or not her actions will have consequences.


Life doesn't follow a rulebook


Its written in third person narrative from Juliet's and Seth's points of views, although I think we do get to see Naomi here and there. I was surprised that I liked it a lot, and of the double standard that Brenda Cronin employs. First of all I don't approve of May/December romances, nor do I approve of taking advantage of teens in any shape or form, but I couldn't help but pinpoint the difference between the consequences of Seth's affairs and consequences of Naomi's affair. It really reminded me of two Japanese dramas that I have seen; one is of a male teacher and female student and how it seems that the male teacher suffered very little consequences for his actions; the female teacher and male student suffered a whole lot more life-changing consequences when they are in a relationship. In the book itself, what impressed me was the setting and the dialogue between the characters. For some odd reason, Juliet and Seth really lacked chemistry in the beginning.

Author Information:

(from TLC website)

Brenda Cronin writes for The Wall Street Journal, where she has worked since 2001. Her short fiction has been published on both sides of the Atlantic. This is her first novel. Born in Washington, she was raised in Connecticut and lives in New York City.


This book certainly raises a lot of questions for readers, and as I was talking to my friend Jennifer, I pointed out the double standard that was employed in the book. I was curious of the title, and that it happened to be a subsection of an etiquette book. Reading an excerpt from this book, I think I finally understood it, I hope. The section that's referenced in the book talks and encourages planning the night before so in order not to be rushed and for the day to go well. In other words,an ideal that not a lot of people can live up to. Hard work goes into smooth life, in other words. But here the title acts paradoxically, especially when reading the summary of the book. Juliet tries to follow directions prior to beginning of the book, but it didn't go as smoothly, so what happens when she does wrong things? Secrets, unpredictable life emerge from the cocoon of veneer and turns her into someone she never imagines.

This is for TLC Book Tour

Brenda’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, October 15th: bookchickdi
Tuesday, October 22nd: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Wednesday, October 23rd: Bibliotica
Monday, October 28th: Book-alicious Mama
Wednesday, October 30th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Thursday, October 31st: A Simple Life, Really?
Tuesday, November 5th: Anita Loves Books
Thursday, November 7th: Brooklyn Berry Designs
Monday, November 11th: Amy’s Book-et List
Tuesday, November 12th: A Book Geek
Thursday, November 14th: Obsessed Italian Brat

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)


  1. Wow, I can't imagine being in Juliet's position ...

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

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