Monday, February 11, 2013

Review: Pilgrims Don't Wear Pink by Stephanie Strohm

Okay, let me admit I meant to read this 2012 debut in 2012 but I fell off my game. 

I originally picked up the book because before I left my agent, this author would have been my agency-mate. That being said, I don't know the author and have never met her, not even via email. 

And what a pity I never got to connect with her because this book is utterly charming. Wait-- I don't want to get ahead of myself-- here's the basic premise from Goodreads:

Libby Kelting had always felt herself born out of time. No wonder the historical romance-reading, Jane Austen-adaptation-watching, all-around history nerd jumped at the chance to intern at Camden Harbor, Maine’s Oldest Living History Museum. But at Camden Harbor Libby’s just plain out of place, no matter how cute she looks in a corset. Her cat-loving coworker wants her dead, the too-smart-for-his-own-good local reporter keeps pushing her buttons, her gorgeous sailor may be more shipwreck than dreamboat — plus Camden Harbor’s haunted. Over the course of one unforgettable summer, Libby learns that boys, like ghosts, aren’t always what they seem.

Great concept, right? 

But it's not just a great concept. It is a perfectly executed realization of a great concept. Let me level with you, as a research nerd myself I really appreciate when you get a strong sense that the author knows what she is talking about. 

Do you know what I mean? 

I see glitches in books sometimes that totally turn me off, particularly if it's the kind of detail that would take a five second Google or Wikipedia search to clarify. It's not like you have to drive to the library anymore to look things up. (Who remembers those days?) When I feel like the author is a complete and utter expert I can relax into the story and enjoy it more. And the details in this book are fantastic. Stephanie builds an authentic world by weaving all kinds of awesomely nerdy history facts into the book-- but she does it seamlessly without EVER giving you the sense that she's "teaching you something historic". 

The setting is fantastic-- I spent most of the book picturing nearby Mystic, CT, which I visit whenever my parents come up to CT. The storylines, large and small, are excellent. And the romance. Damn. It is a doozy. Because it is totally contemporary but nestled into this historical (or mock-historical) setting. The best of both worlds. 

Find this book.  Read it. 

You will not regret it. 

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