September 25, 2012

SVH Saga, The Fowlers of Sweet Valley: Les Misérables

Posted in books tagged , , , at 9:57 pm by Jenn

Why does the third one down look like a dude?

Summary: 1789-1793: Lili de Beautemps is really rich. Then the French Revolution comes around and her family loses everything (including their heads). Lili herself is almost guillotined, but she’s saved by Georges Oiseleur, her maid’s brother. (And yes, his name translates to George Fowler.) She spends a few years as a seamstress in Paris, making her own dress when she’s invited to a fancy party. There, she meets Count Matthieu de Bizac, who seems to fall in love with her. She thinks she’s fooled him into thinking she’s a noblewoman, but he knows she’s not and doesn’t care.

Lili and Matthieu get married, but not long after they move into a hotel (while Matthieu looks for a place for them to live and mysteriously disappears for long periods of time), she wakes up one morning to see that he’s taken his stuff and split. It turns out he was married already, and this isn’t the first time he’s seduced another woman and “married” her. Also, he’s left her with no money. Oh, and she’s pregnant. Lili moves into an apartment and prepares to be a single mother. However, she dies just after giving birth and asks her friend Marie to take care of her daughter, Celeste.

Meanwhile, Georges has been looking for Lili, since he’s in love with her. He’s also recovered her family’s estate and wants to get her back home. Instead, he finds out she had a daughter and died. Georges goes hunting for the daughter so she can get the estate.

1809: Celeste grows up with Marie’s children, then goes to work as a maid for the Marquis de Bocage. She’s mostly in charge of waiting on the marquis’ Lila-like daughter Emilie. Georges meets her and thinks she’s like Lili, so he sends her little gifts and arranges for her to be tutored by a woman named Solange (who he winds up falling in love with). Celeste also meets the marquis’ son, Marc, and they have feelings for each other but know nothing can happen because he’s upper-class and she’s a maid.

Marc decides to try to find another woman to distract him from Celeste. He agrees to a ball Emilie wants to throw, but he doesn’t connect with any of the women there. He and Celeste end up kissing, then secretly seeing each other for a few weeks. Then he proposes, but Celeste won’t marry him since she doesn’t want him to give up his inheritance and station in life. Marc’s mother thinks Celeste is a seductive hussy and fires her for sullying her perfect little boy.

Celeste meets up with Georges, who finally figures out that she’s Lili’s daughter. He also finally gets to tell her that he’s restored her family’s estate. Now that she’s rich, the marquis has no reason to object to Celeste marrying Marc. I’m sure she enjoys having in-laws who hated her so much when she was poor. Anyway, Celeste and Marc are pretty much the only people in the book who get to make their relationship work.

1880-1893: Rose, Celeste and Marc’s granddaughter, grows up with Pierre, Georges and Solange’s grandson. They totally have that best-friends-who-are-really-in-love-but-won’t-admit-it relationship, and it’s incredibly boring. Long story short, Pierre tells Rose he loves her, but she doesn’t believe in love, so he goes off and marries someone else. Then Celeste writes a book and marries an American named Robert Eastman.

1914-1960: Celeste and Robert’s daughter, Isabelle, meets two soldiers, Charles Doret and Jacques Oiseleur (a cousin of Pierre’s). Charles is interested in her, but she’s more interested in Jacques and starts sneaking onto the military barracks to meet with him. When World War I begins, Jacques and Charles are both sent to the front. But first, Jacques and Isabelle secretly get married.

After some time, Isabelle goes to the front as well to work as a nurse. She reunites with Charles, who tells her Jacques was killed in battle. Charles and Isabelle start spending time together, and he proposes. Isabelle still loves Jacques but marries Charles anyway, only to find out after the war ends that Jacques didn’t die after all. He’s furious that his wife married his best friend, and he thinks Charles lied about Jacques being dead so he could steal her. He runs off to India, and Charles and Isabelle end up moving to America (specifically, Sweet Valley).

Everything seems peachy in Sweet Valley, where Charles becomes the mayor and Isabelle gets pregnant. One day Jacques shows up in town, now using the name Jack Fowler. Isabelle tells him how she and Charles got together, promising that Charles didn’t manipulate her or lie to her. Jack tells her he’s not in love with her anymore.

Fast-forward to the ’50s, when Charles and Isabelle’s granddaughter, Grace Doret, has just been born. Charles and Jack still hate each other, and Charles decides to block some zoning change that results in Jack losing his ranch. Fast-forward again to 1960, when Jack and Charles have a big fight at Secca Lake, in front of their families, including 16-year-old George Fowler and eight-year-old Grace.

1971-1989: After growing up poor, George has worked his way through college and started his own computer company. He has a chance meeting with Grace and asks her out; neither knows that the other is from a rival family. George also doesn’t know that Grace is engaged to someone else. They start dating but keep the relationship a secret so their families don’t freak out. But Grace’s parents catch them and order her to marry her fiancé and dump George. If she doesn’t, they’ll disown her. Grace decides to stick with the money and the high-class fiancé.

Sometime later, George pulls some business shenanigans and takes over the Dorets’ company. Then he shows up at Grace’s engagement party and proposes. They elope and go to Paris for their honeymoon before the Dorets can find out that a Fowler ruined them financially. When Lila’s born a couple years later, only Isabelle and Jack come to meet her, as Grace is now on the outs with her family.

Two years later, Grace tries to mend fences with her parents. George is furious and orders her not to let them see Lila. Isabelle has a stroke and Grace tells George she wants to go say goodbye, but he again refuses to let Lila go near the Dorets. Grace goes anyway, refusing to leave even when George comes after her. When she gets home, she learns that George has filed for divorce and wants sole custody of Lila. Grace is so upset to lose her child that she runs off to Paris.

14 years later, we get the events of The Morning After, The Arrest, The Verdict, and The Wedding, with Grace and George getting married again.

Thoughts: Pretty much everyone in this book settles for a second choice. It’s depressing. (Hence my recap title.)

Lila would die if she knew how similar her ancestors were to Elizabeth.

No one tells Lili that Matthieu is married and has fooled other women into marrying him. People in high society in late 18th century France were mean.

The town gossip in 1924 is Evelyn Pearce. Thank goodness we were spared The Pearces of Sweet Valley.

Did we know George made his fortune in computers? Well, we do now. And did we know he was such a jerk? We really do now.

According to this book (which came out in 1996), it’s still 1989. Weird.

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