Book Review – The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows by Olivia Waite
First published, 2020
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
In this, the second instalment of the Feminine Pursuits series (you may remember my review of the first book, The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics, here: https://petrinabinney.com/2020/02/20/book-review-the-ladys-guide-to-celestial-mechanics-by-olivia-waite/), we meet respectable widow and print-shop proprietress, Agatha Griffin, and potentially-widowed-at-any-given-moment, whaler’s wife, Penelope Flood, in the early 1800s.
Where Agatha was very devoted to her late husband and throws all her efforts into pushing their nineteen-year-old son into manhood, as well as running the family business, Penelope bustles through the little village of Melliton in gentleman’s trousers, tending to the neighbourhood bees. And where Mrs. Griffin starts out prickly and aloof, Mrs. Flood doesn’t want to ruin their unexpected friendship with wholehearted honesty. She could tell Agatha that she’d married her husband out of kindness, not love. She could tell her that neither she nor her husband are really the marrying kind (wink-wink), but then she might have to tell Mrs. Griffin how desperately she’s falling in love with her. And that would never do. Or would it?
With a backdrop of bees and lewd sculptures, there’s a lot to love about this book. I particularly enjoyed Agatha’s playful irritation of her late-to-rise son, Sydney:
“There was no sweeter privilege of motherhood than knocking at dawn on the door of one’s self-indulgent son, only to observe when the door creaked open that he was spine-shudderingly, knee-wobblingly, and stomach-churningly hungover.
“‘Good morning, my dear,’ Agatha trilled extra-brightly, smugness wrapping around her like a warm comforting shawl.
“Sydney managed a pained whimper in response. Heavens, but he looked like he’d been turned inside out and then back again and his skin no longer hung quite correctly on his bones.
“Agatha let her voice turn syrup-sweet. ‘What say I make you something special for breakfast? Kippers and bacon? Eggs and gravy? Jellied eels in brandy sauce?’
“Sydney’s face went from white to green and then gone, as he slammed the door in her face – presumably to have a private tête-à-tête with his chamber pot.”
8% in, Chapter Two, The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows by Olivia Waite
If you’re a fan of the slowburn, heart-and-general-aching romance, this is for you. Gorgeous.