Suzanne by Michael Betcherman
Publication Date: November 20, 2015
Pages: 204 pages
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Suzanne Braun had it all - beauty, status and money. Then her husband died - but unfortunately not before making a series of foolish investments that squandered her inheritance. When a promising relationship with a wealthy and aging suitor founders during prenuptial negotiations, Suzanne finds herself a social pariah, universally regarded as an unscrupulous golddigger.
Her prospects look bleak until her late husband's brother, Douglas, invites her to spend the summer at Inglewood, the family cottage on Lake Joseph, a playground for Toronto’s uber-rich. Suzanne heads north with one goal in mind: to return home with a wealthy fiancé in tow.
Douglas’ wife Catherine dreads Suzanne’s arrival. She fears that the sexy widow will set her sights on her brother, Mark, a successful businessman who is returning to Canada after 14 years in Japan. The prospect that this social climbing opportunist might penetrate the family circle is too horrible to contemplate, and Catherine will stop at nothing to prevent it.
An irresistible force is about to meet an immovable object.
Ag recently reviewed this and I was intrigued by the concept. Basically this story is told in the form of emails. But unlike some other books that have recently been published with a similar theme, the reader in this case actually receives the story in the form of 3-5 emails per day. At first I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about that, but surprisingly, I enjoyed the story…I think even more than I would have had I’d bought it in print.
Suzanne Braun is down on her luck. Her recently deceased husband left her completely destitute and an ill-advised romance turned sour with an extremely wealthy – but also extremely old – businessman has left her reputation shattered.
Determined to find a rich fiance quick, she ships her out of control 16-year-old daughter off to summer camp and accepts an invitation from her brother-in-law, Douglas, to spend the summer with he and his wife, Catherine, at their country cottage in an extremely upper crust area of Canada. Catherine is horrified when she learns her husband has invited Suzanne. For years, she’s resented Suzanne for stealing the better brother away from her and now she’s determined to do everything possible to keep Suzanne away from her brother, Mark, who just returned from Japan where he spent the last 12 years.
Mark is on the market for a woman who can give him children, since the woman he was with before claimed to not want any, though he suspicions she only used that as an excuse to not marry him and go against her family’s wishes. He’s just dissolved his business in Japan and finds himself extremely wealthy, but also out of work and in need of a family to complete him.
What ensues when you put this delightfully dysfunctional group together is something worthy of a daytime drama. Suzanne sets her sights on a wealthy corporate lawyer who just happens to be more boring than watching grass grow, and just happens to be vertically challenged (read: short. Mark refers to him as a gnome). Mark and Suzanne engage in some mild flirting that causes Catherine to resort to blackmail and the hiring of private investigators to keep them apart. Mark meets a lovely woman named Laura who’s still in love with her ex-husband and overly indulges her young daughter, who does her best to cause friction between Mark and Laura. Catherine, her mother and a friend of theirs scheme and snipe and cause more trouble than their worth.
But through it all, the witty banter and mild sarcasm save the story from being bogged down. We watch Suzanne’s relationship with the lawyer sour, her attempts to win Mark to her side and her feelings of failure as a mother when things with her overly rebellious teenage daughter come to a head.
I was convinced I would hate Suzanne after her first few emails, especially when it becomes clear she’s a complete and utter gold digger. But as I read on, I found myself rooting for her. The twists and turns of the plot were fun and faced paced, and kept me reading for over an hour straight when I should have been working.
The cast of characters was hilarious. I think Patrick, Mark’s best friend, was my favorite. Although all the dialogue was witty and sarcastic, Patrick took it to a new level. And he was so the perfectly quintessential male! For example, Mark emails Patrick about his break-up with his long time girlfriend in Japan.
To: “Mark Rogers”
From: “Patrick Stoughton”
Damien Rice said it best, dude, in the last line of The Blower’s Daughter.
“I can’t take my mind off of you
I can’t take my mind off you
I can’t take my mind off you
‘Til I find somebody new”
Although unconventional, having the story emailed was similar to accidentally being BCC’d on private emails, which was fascinating. I think my biggest gripe with the story is that it lacks the emotional depth of a regular novel, since there are no internal monologues. What I mean is, we don’t get a good feel for exactly what the characters are feeling. Especially Mark. It’s hard to know exactly what his motives and true feelings where Suzanne are concerned, as we only see snippets from him. The bulk of the emails are ones exchanged between Suzanne and her sister Lisa, who lives in Argentina, and Catherine and her mother, who are scheming to ruin Suzanne and keep her and Mark apart.
Despite that, however, I truly enjoyed this story and would highly recommend it to others. I breezed right through it and found myself anxious for more. I’ve often said men can’t write romance as well as women, but Michael Betcherman certainly did a fantastic job of changing my mind.
4.5 out of 5