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I Should’ve Written This Review In Iambic Pentameter

Forever Young Adult Presents: A Review of The Gentleman Poet by Kathryn Johnson

I Should’ve Written This Review In Iambic Pentameter

BOOK REPORT for The Gentleman Poet by Kathryn Johnson

Cover Story: Highbrow
BFF Charm: Yay!
Swoonworthy Scale: 7
Talky Talk: Classically Literary
Bonus Factors: Historical Fiction, Tasty Business
Relationship Status: Betrothed

Cover Story: Highbrow

Although this cover does feature the dreaded Obscured Face, it more than makes up for it by LOOKIN' CLASSY. This is like, some English major shizz right here. Y'all, I'm not gonna lie, I wore my glasses (which I don't usually wear) just so I could look smart enough to be reading this book.

The Deal:

1609 is definitely not Elizabeth Persons' year. After her father is executed for being Catholic and the rest of her family dies from the plague, she is forced to become a servant to the well-to-do Mistress Horton and accompany her on a voyage from London to Jamestown, Virginia. And, as if that wasn't shitty enough, the ship almost perishes in a terrible storm, leaving the passengers and crew shipwrecked among the Bermuda islands. Although their unexpected home turns out to be surprisingly hospitable, the ship's inhabitants must figure out, not only how to adapt, but how to maintain order and build ships for their eventual departure. Although Elizabeth still has to deal with the awful Mistress Horton, she finds escape in the form of cooking for the community, as well as in her growing friendship with William Strachey, the ship's historian, who also seems to have a talent for poetry. In this new place, Elizabeth begins to hope for a new life and a better future, but does she have the courage to make it happen?

BFF Charm: Yay!

Elizabeth possesses one of my favorite qualities in a friend-- she can cook like a boss. BUT! Even if she couldn't cook, I would still give her my charm, because she's incredibly strong and intelligent and amazing, esp. for a girl who lost her family and has to put up with the fact that she lives in 1609 and therefore has, like, zero rights. Elizabeth has overcome SO MUCH, and she really needs a good girl friend, because there are literally only three other women on the island, and two of them are bitches. There were so many times when my heart went out to her, and I wished we could just hang out in the kitchen while she cried it out and then, you know, cooked for me afterwards. But only because cooking is v. therapeutic for her and has nothing to do with me stuffing my face. Obvs.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

This book gave me such palpitations of the heart, I had to stop and fan my face in a v. ladylike fashion. As much as I love some sexy business, I'm also a huge fan of old-fashioned romance. You know, the kind that simmers with the whisper of a touch and a series of intense gazes and then slowly, ever so slowly, rises to BOILING HOTNESS. Well, that's EXACTLY what happens in this book, and LORD ALMIGHTY SOMEONE HAND ME SOME SMELLING SALTS. When Elizabeth first meets Thomas Powell, the ship's cook, she's totally like, "Ugh, men are gross." Due to a tragic experience in her past and the fact that the entire island is crawling with lecherous sailors, Elizabeth is determined to avoid the male species entirely, but Thomas is sweetly, quietly persistent. As he attempts to gently woo her, Elizabeth finds herself drawn to him, and when she fights it, it only makes the chemistry THAT MUCH MORE TINGLY.

Talky Talk: Classically Literary

After reading a ton of contemporary YA (which, don't get me wrong, I love), it was a refreshing change to dive into this rich, classical text. Kathryn Johnson is an immensely talented writer, combining fascinating historical details with a compelling, luxuriously paced story of love and adventure. I believe this book is actually marketed as "adult literature," and it certainly reads that way-- elegant and sophisticated-- while effectively harnessing the things we love so much about YA-- the ups and downs of romance, of identity, of growing up. I found myself prancing around at home, saying things like, "Tis a pleasing time for a cocktail!" and "On the morrow, I shalt purchase a latte!"

Bonus Factor: Historical Fiction

If historical faction isn't on our milk carton, it should be, because IT IS SO FUN TO READ. Plus it makes you feel smarter! This book actually taught me a lot about British politics in the early 1600s... and made me feel v. grateful that I wasn't alive back then. Because chamber pots, NAY. Tis a great thing to live vicariously through history and then, you know, go turn on my TV or use my nice, flushing toilet.

Bonus Factor: Tasty Business

GOOD LORD THE FOOD IN THIS BOOK. First of all, I've always been fascinated by stories of people finding and making their own food in the wild. (Hello, Little House on the Prairie!) Elizabeth has an incredible knowledge of plants and herbs, and her creativity with ingredients made my stomach rumble at an embarrassing level. Second, THERE ARE RECIPES IN THIS BOOK, YOU GUYS. That means you can read about a dish, and then GO HOME AND MAKE IT. AND EAT IT. Or, you know, ask your friend to make it and then invite yourself over with a bottle of wine.

Casting Call:

Elizabeth is pretty but not gorgeous, and she's supposed to be brunette, small and slight, so I went with one of my current faves:

Ashley Rickards as Elizabeth

Thomas is really tall, with big shoulders and hands, so OF COURSE I had to go with one of my old Dillon football players:

Grey Damon as Thomas

Relationship Status: Betrothed

With its classy, gentlemanly ways and copious amounts of food, this book absolutely swept me off my feet. It's dashing but sweet, clever but serious, and I found its old fashioned ways to be incredibly romantic. This book isn't just about gestures, though-- there is true depth and heart behind its actions, and I know it respects me just as much as I respect it. So I am honored and delightfully happy to be its betrothed, so much so that I insist that you say "betroth-ED," because we are THAT legit in our love.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Kathryn Johnson. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). The Gentleman Poet is available now.

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).