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I was actually quite excited to read this as it would be my first Barbara-Taylor-Bradford-book! I'd heard some good things about the author and felt very hopeful. It's been laying around for a few years now, but I was rather happy to find it, thinking it would make a nice bedtime read... as the title suggests though, I wasn't very impressed with it.
The blurb tells us that the book is about a very successful woman who owns several international inns and whose daughter will be engaged very soon. During this time she starts to suffer from a strange illness and needs to see a psychiatrist who helps her to discover things from her past. Slowly she unlocks memories that have very much shaped the person she is now.
Without revealing too much, I felt the book was poorly constructed with things just thrown in to force a plot. The details were not revealed gradually either but all at once; bad news after bad news after coincidence. The book started off average, but after the first few chapters I was already bored...no, make that very bored. Determined to persevere, I was then rewarded with more boring characters and predictable subplots. I didn't feel any emotion for the characters, of which quite a number were introduced. Sadly they added little value to the book.
I felt that the author wanted to portray Meredith Stratton, the main character of this story, as being very likeable, mysterious and smart. She was definitely not that likeable... I'd say an average person on the like-ability scale. If being mysterious is someone whose thoughts occasionally wonder off, who speaks what is on her mine without realising and who refuses to talk much about her certain topics...then I guess she is very mysterious by those standards! Unfortunately, by normal standards, the character was just that bit too same-y. And is she smart? This I would probably agree with overall. One out of three though isn't good, is it? Quite a few things that happen in this book somewhat go against the grain of what her character is supposed to be. She is described as a hard-worker, but in several cases seems to give up the chase all too easily. She is meant to be astute, but has gone into several situations rather naively. At times she was that little bit frustrating!
It also annoys me (sorry!) that the title of the book was mentioned several times throughout this 327 page story, as though to justify why this choice of words was used. Usually it makes me cringe when this happens and in this case, it did! From the middle of the book to the end, the reader will no doubt make a mental note every time this occurs. It doesn't happen subtly either.
I want to add that I was surprised after reading that other reviews on Amazon, however, were favourable, both on the UK website and the US one. Reviews that particularly stood out to me were those that said their attention was gripped throughout the book. Have I been reading the wrong one?! It may be worth noting that in 1998, this book was dramatised on TV. (This scores a low 4.5/10 stars on IMDB.)
Meredith Stratton, at forty-four the owner of six elegant international inns, is about to celebrate her daughter's engagement. At this seemingly happy time in her life she begins to suffer from a strange illness that baffles everyone. Her doctor cannot find a physical cause for her debilitating symptoms, and, desperate for answers, she seeks the help of a psychiatrist. Through therapy Meredith peels back the layers of her life to discover the truth behind her most careful creation - herself. Determined to get well, Meredith traces her roots back to another country where she learns about childhood experiences that dramatically changed her life. What she discovers is not only the key to the past but to her future happiness and fulfilment as a woman. Moving from the Connecticut countryside, the busy streets and suites of London, Paris and New York, to the pastoral beauty of a ch?teau in the Loire, Her Own Rules is an exciting and suspenseful novel about secrets, survival, redemption and love.