Thirty-year-old Vivienne Cally is wealthy in name only. Orphaned as a child and raised by a cold but regal aunt, Vivienne was taught to rely on her beauty and Texas tradition, and is expected to marry a wealthy and respectable man who will honor the Cally name. Friends with Houston's richest and most prominent families, she's a beloved fixture at the social events big and small, and suffers no shortage of access to some of the city's most eligible bachelors. Preston Duffin has known Vivienne and her set since childhood. He's never shared their social aspirations or their status but is liked and respected for his sharp wit and intelligence. About to graduate from a prestigious architecture program, he is both fascinated and repelled by this group of friends he sits on the cusp of. He's long admired Vivienne's beauty and grace, but isn't sure he holds any place in such a traditional life. Intrigued by Preston's ambitions and the extent to which he challenges the only way of life she's ever known, Vivienne both courts Preston's attention, and rebuffs his critiques of her predictable and antiquated priorities and values.
Inspired by Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth, Yvonne Georgina Puig's A Wife of Noble Character shares the original novel’s astute social commentary at the same time that it illuminates the trappings and rewards of coming of age that are wholly unique to the twenty-first century. Charming and shrewd at once, this Texas love story takes readers from Houston to Paris and Switzerland and back again, and will speak to both fans of Wharton and anyone who has every struggled to find their way in life.
This story was as beautiful as the cover. I will say though that the cover is deceiving. I have a habit of trying not to read the synopsis before diving into a book, so I don't try and figure out the twists and endings before I even read the first page, so I went into this blind. I was expecting an old fifties era with the neon coloring and the use of the world "noble" in the title, maybe an even older setting, but was pleasantly surprised to find it set in the present.
I loved the life stage chosen for this novel. I’m used to reading whirlwind romances that would either fall into the young adult genre (18-25 year olds) or classics (40s and up). The thirties were refreshing to read. They were more realistic and had some funny dry humor that only someone in their thirties would be experiencing. A little vulgar but I found it funny when Vivienne joked that she’d given more blow jobs to this man than her entire blow jobbing live combined and she was beginning to question if he was gay. The perception of sex was not fireworks and rainbows, but just something adults did. Also, with sex not being such a big hooray that the story revolved around, the rest of the story was able to be more deeply developed.
What thrilled me about this book was that it almost wasn’t even a love story. It focused more on a girl going through her dirty thirties trying to figure out which path she should take. It was more focused on self-love than throwing yourself at a man broken and thinking that might fix you. It was the struggle of other’s perceptions and predetermined paths fighting against one’s own desires.
There is so much to love about this book I could write a book about all the small details I loved. The trip to Paris, the explosive “family” dinner that held so much hidden drama that it felt like many I’ve personally experienced, the jealousy, and then finally the tile pulling self-made woman. Speaking of jealousy though, my favorite character besides Vivienne might just have to be Karlie who I loved to hate because oh she pissed me off constantly, which in turn made me love her as a character. All the detail in the epilogue, made me reread it three times over to make sure I didn’t miss how things turned out. All the bases were covered in such a short wedding announcement, it was perfect. I would highly recommend this book to those that love the young adult genre as well as the classic romances. It’s a beautiful story and a fun read. Five out of five stars. Do you know an architect?