09 March 2017

Dyslexia, Narcissism, and Redemption? -- An Audiobook Review of An Elegant Façade

An Audiobook Review of  An Elegant Façade
Tantor Audio

Book by Kristi Ann Hunter
Narration by Charlotte Anne Dore

Review by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Dyslexia, Narcissism, and Redemption? 
This audiobook has had me thinking about it long after I finished reading it. Start with a heroine who is more of an anti-heroine, who has a reading learning disability, or dyslexia. She's born into a family she perceives as perfectionists. Set during Regency England, the heroine reminds me of one of Jane Austin's antagonistic females. There was a movie sometime not too far back where a twist was done on an Austin novel, making the antagonist the heroine and giving her a happier outcome than the book had. This novel reminded me of that movie, to some extent.

As a psychologist of twenty-five years, one of the most difficult conditions to deal with was narcissism. Granted, today it is rampant in our culture. And it is a vice that Lady Georgina Hawthorne epitomizes well. The problem is -- we don't normally want to see that in our heroine! So I kept waiting and hoping that this well-written story would show progress for the heroine and I hung in there and kept listening.  The narrator, while sounding rather young and petulant in voice for this character really is quite perfect for Georgina.

Spolier Alert
The heroine, in contrast, is a lovable guy and kept me interested in the story. Colin McRae makes up for what Georgina lacks. And he draws her forward in her relationship with the Lord. And finally to making her own decision. The problem is, when someone is "ashamed" of their disability and hiding it, that doesn't excuse self-absorption and narcissism and even with redemption, the chance in the heroine is not so marked as to make the reader think -- there now, she'll go forward and stop all that. On the other hand, we shouldn't expect redemption to cure all our fleshly sins. So that is my struggle in reading this story and why it is memorable. One hopes for, wishes, and delights in the day of redemption yet those fleshly behaviors are likely to continue, and disturb others, as God slowly peels those layers away.  We aren't going to see that at the end of the story. We get a nice epilogue, and we can hope, but one can't help but wonder if all that self-centeredness and deception are going to be problematic in a marriage and family. My personal experience has been that narcissism is horrifically hard to excise from someone and overcome. It can be done, but only with God's help. Kristi Ann Hunter doesn't give a neat little package wrapped up with a bow at the end -- and maybe that is how this story needs to be. 

Question: Do you enjoy stories with an anti-hero who is restored? What is your favorite?


  1. CARRIE this sounds like a interesting story, maybe even one where I would be "talking out loud" to Lady Georgina. I always try to help them along, so yes, I can say I would rather read a story where they are restored! lol Maybe that's because I am ever the optimist, or I try to be! :-)

    1. I kept waiting and waiting and eventually I was rewarded, Teresa!!! Yes, I was having a few chats with her, too!

  2. Wonderful review, Carrie - thank you!! Yes, I always want to see the characters restored - through the grace of God - by story end!! But it doesn't always happen in real life so guess non-restoration in a story is realistic also. Or - perhaps it happens in a following book, if included in a series.

    1. Exactly! In real life we deal with difficult people and situations. Thanks Bonnie!

  3. I personally would rather read a story with a likable heroine. But I do like "Gone With the Wind" so I would have to try this story out for myself! Good review Carrie!

    1. Hi SUSAN MARLENE! It almost seems like likable and memorable can be at odds. This story still has me thinking about it and that is a sign of a good book! I hope you'll love this story. I know others have and I really enjoyed this listen.


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