The Proposal tells the story of Amy Carrell, an American woman living in London. When her boyfriend fails to propose when she expects him to, and he makes it clear that his well-to-do family expect him to marry someone more suited to their social status, she decides on a whim to answer an advert in The Lady. Georgia Hamilton is elderly, elegant and on her way to New York, Amy’s home town. It’s a match made in heaven, as Amy accompanies Georgia as a companion, showing her around her hometown and learning more about this mysterious lady who obviously harbours a secret. The narrative flashes between the present day, and Georgia’s past in the fifties, as she went through the Season as one of the last debutantes.
This was the first of Perry’s novels that I have read; they simply aren’t the sort of books that I would choose to pick up at the library or the bookshop. The cover is perfectly nice, though totally unmemorable (this version is much nicer, including, as it does, my beloved Chrysler Building), but it doesn’t look like a book that would necessarily grab my attention. That’s slightly deceiving, as it is a perfectly enjoyable book. I ended up reading most of it in one sitting (in the bath!) and that obviously means that I was eager to find out how it ended, but honestly, it’s been over a month since I read it, and I can’t say that the story is particularly memorable.
I was intrigued by Georgia’s story, and because I love to read about the era of debutantes and the Season (without subscribing to the idea that it was a good system), I found myself wishing we were back in that side of the story more often than not. Amy’s predicament isn’t that different to anything I’ve read about in countless other modern novels; girl gets dumped for not being good enough for posh boyfriend, goes on a journey, realises that she is much better than said boyfriend, finds herself in a much better place at the end of the novel. But there is a real mystery surrounding Georgia, and the characters that interacted with when she was a young woman feel very real. I had no idea where her story was going, and when her secret was finally revealed, I was genuinely surprised.
I can’t see myself ever reading this one again, and it hasn’t necessarily convinced me that I have to seek out everything Tasmina Perry has ever written, but it was a perfectly enjoyable book while I was reading it, and I genuinely believe that there’s nothing wrong with that kind of book.
First published: 7th November 2013
Review copy provided by publisher