Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Ambassador's Daughter - Pam Jenoff

The Ambassador's Daughter - Pam Jenoff
The Ambassador's Daughter by Pam Jenoff
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Publication Date: January 29, 2013
Source/Format: Netgalley (Thanks Harlequin!) || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

Paris, 1919.The world's leaders have gathered to rebuild from the ashes of the Great War. Brought to the peace conference by her father, a German diplomat, Margot Rosenthal initially resents being trapped in the congested French capital. But as she contemplates returning to Berlin and a life with Stefan, the wounded fiancé she hardly knows anymore, she decides that being in Paris is not so bad after all.

Bored and torn between duty and the desire to be free, Margot strikes up unlikely alliances: with Krysia, an accomplished musician with radical acquaintances and a secret to protect; and with Georg, the handsome, damaged naval officer who gives Margot a job—and also a reason to question everything she thought she knew about where her true loyalties should lie.


It takes some skill to effectively write historical fiction in a way that rings true with the reader. The Ambassador’s Daughter is a fairly strong example. While I certainly cannot testify to the authenticity of the details, the author does a credible job of bringing to life the world in Europe after the war. The author drew out Margot’s tale, carefully laying out various parts of her life and writing them into one cohesive story. Though I do have reservations, this novel was actually a breath of fresh air after reading so much YA.

Margot is, for me, a relatable character. This probably has to do with the fact that she appears to be stuck between what is expected of her and what she wants to do, a conflict many people experience. Her father expects her to want to return to Germany to finally marry her fiancé Stefan, who was wounded in the war. Stefan, of course, expects her to return to him so they can finally be together. But Margot feels a deep yearning – for knowledge, for freedom, for exploration – and she keeps prolonging her return as best she can. I found her insatiable desire for more understandable, as I too have felt that way. Margot seemed to be on the brink of something grand and new and wonderful, and I wanted her to be able to have it all – without breaking anyone’s heart, of course. Does that happen? Well, you’ll have to read and find out.

Margot gets caught up in some complicated business, mostly because of the tempestuous political and international relations during that time. It’s both fascinating and terrifying to see all the different motives that people have, as well as to find Margot completely stumped on what the right thing to do is. I cannot imagine the fear, pressure and (possible) thrill of being put in such a position, but the author did a good job in making the reader feel those things. Depending on which side you happen to be on, you could either be making a great contribution to your cause, navigating a tricky minefield or toppling a movement. Margot’s experiences formed a good chunk of this novel, and I liked reading about them.

My reservations are mostly personal ones, so it might not bother other readers. On occasion, I’d find my attention wander while I was reading, instead of being completely captivated. I would fall in and out of the story, which left me feeling disjointed. And I was also disappointed with how Margot’s romance ends, since it really felt like a cop-out to me. Everything in that vein ended a little too conveniently for my tastes.

However, overall, The Ambassador’s Daughter was a good read. I really liked Margot, and the story of her adventures in subtle espionage and romance really appealed to me. In spite of my lukewarm feelings towards the writing and the ending, I still think it was worth a read, especially because it was decidedly different from my usual YA fare.

3 comments:

  1. Really nice review. We were very pleased to come across this - we enjoyed it too and felt it made the era come alive.

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  2. This book sounds like it has a rather unique setting so I'm definitely tempted to get my hands on it sometime soon. Unique reads are always interesting reads.

    It's a shame that you weren't able to be completely captivated by it and the romance didn't end that well though. :/

    Great review as always Alexa! <3

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  3. It's so nice sometimes to come out of YA and read something that is just fun. Even though this one didn't completely captivate you, I'm glad that you did like it for the most part. I hadn't heard of it before seeing this review, so thank you for putting it on my radar! It actually does sound kind of nice.

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Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)

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