To Sir Phillip, with Love
Julia Quinn
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To Sir Phillip, with Love
Julia Quinn
384 pages
June 2003
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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After his wife’s death, Sir Phillip receives a condolence note from none other than Eloise Bridgerton. Twenty-eight-year-old Eloise is casually regarded by London society as a veritable spinster. But she loves her correspondence, and so begins an exchange of notes between these two opposite people. And one day, out of the blue, Sir Phillip proposes marriage to Eloise in a letter. At first Eloise is stunned at this abrupt turn of events. But when her best friend and staunch companion in spinsterhood, Penelope Featherington, ups and marries Eloise’s brother Colin, Eloise feels bereft. Impulsive as ever, Eloise leaves London and arrives unannounced at Sir Phillip’s doorstep.

A botanist by profession, Sir Phillip is a man who wants nothing more than to be left alone with his beloved plants and experiments. Not all the imaginative pranks his uncontrollably mischievous twins can come up with can earn them anything more than their father’s momentary attention as well as irritation. He proposes to Eloise more out of a need to provide his children with a mother who could hopefully control them, rather than any other tender feelings for Eloise or any urgent need for a wife for himself.

And when beautiful, intelligent, talkative Eloise just turns up at his door, he suddenly finds his passion rising from where he’d buried it deep within. Now the question remains: can he convince Eloise of it? In turn, Eloise is stunned to discover that not only did Sir Phillip have two children, a fact he’d quite neglected to mention during their copious and lengthy correspondence, but also said children have decided to make her the target of their devious tricks. Will her Bridgerton pride see Eloise through this unsettling time?

To Sir Phillip, with Love is the latest addition to Julia Quinn’s highly successful Bridgerton series and is more than a simple romance. Instead, it’s a pleasing combination of complex problems and even more complex characters. Eloise Bridgerton’s motives for her escapade, her dreams and hopes, her feelings as she comes to face harsh realities, her uncertainty over marriage - all these are intense, emotional and, at times, even hilarious. At first glance, Sir Phillip isn’t likely to find favor with the readers who’ve become used to Quinn’s larger-than-life Bridgerton men who are depicted as the epitome of manliness. Phillip is a man who can’t see what’s right underneath his nose; somewhat insensitive, he’s also a bit of an escapist, and it is these flaws which make him convincing. Secondary characters like Phillip’s children are believable as mischievous monkeys, but their abrupt transformation into docile children strikes a slightly false note, even while it fits the story circumstances. The painful journey of self-realization, which Phillip to a great extent and Eloise to a lesser one go through, forms the crux of the whole book and makes the story compelling. This isn’t as light as the previous books in the Bridgerton series; it also deals with some sensitive and serious issues like abuse, and Quinn has done a masterful job of it. But it has to be said that the uneven pace is a bit of a drag.

© 2003 by Rashmi Srinivas for Curled Up With a Good Book

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