Masquerade by Nancy Moser. 2010. Bethany House. 368 pages.
"I've told you, Father, I won't marry him."
Charlotte Gleason has led a privileged life. True, her father has kept a mistress for years and years, and he's now being named in a divorce case. Being "outed" as an adulterer. And so her family name may not mean what it used to. But Charlotte Gleason, for better or worse, has had it fairly easy. She's had her own lady's maid since she was twelve. Dora Connors, her maid, could tell you Charlotte is a bit spoiled, a bit naive.
Her parents have arranged a marriage for their daughter. To "protect" her from the instabilities--financial and social--of the family situation. Her intended is the son of a wealthy New York business man. Almost every one has heard of the Tremaines. Conrad Tremaine (and his family) may be nouveau riche. But. It might be the best match she could hope for under the circumstances.
But Charlotte is unwilling to give him a try. No. She'll pretend to follow orders. She'll go to New York to meet him. But. She's concocting a grand deception. Her plan? To have Dora, her maid, take her place. Dora will become Charlotte Gleason. Dora, if all goes well, will vanish forever. She'll marry Conrad and have the life Charlotte would have had--could have had. She'll even write Charlotte's parents pretending to be the "real" Charlotte. What Dora thinks--what Dora wants--doesn't matter. Charlotte will then have the freedom to have AN ADVENTURE. She has this grand idea of what it will be like to be free. She'll call herself Lottie Hathaway, and life in America, in New York, will be oh-so-perfect. True, she won't have as much money. But with the money she has with her, and with the money she'll make from selling her jewelry, she hopes it will be enough to get started. But her plans are flawed at best.
Masquerade follows both Dora and Charlotte in their new American lives. Though once the switch occurs, it really is goodbye to Dora. Dora becomes Charlotte in the third person narration. And Charlotte Gleason--the real Charlotte--becomes Lottie.
In many ways, Lottie makes a great damsel in distress. She may be "surviving" in New York--after a series of mishaps--but she is surviving because other men and women have taken mercy on her. It's not by her own wit by any means! Dora has more common sense, but, apparently not enough to tell Lottie the truth: this plan is foolish and will lead to no good.
I did not enjoy Lottie. At all. While Masquerade wasn't a great read for me, you might enjoy it better than I did.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews