First, the setting. I never knew that taking Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing and placing it in the Roaring 20s would be so completely perfect. But it IS! It really, really is. All the foibles of these characters just absolutely make sense in a prohibition time period. From the Hey Nonny Nonny, to Prince and John and the mob, to the glorious and wonderful bickering into love of Benedick and Beatrice, to the constant fear of the prohibition agents, it just fits so seamlessly together! Sheer perfection, I tell you.
And then there's Benedick and Beatrice. They are, naturally, two of my very favorite characters ever. But if I thought I loved them before, well! These versions made me love them more, a thing I didn't know was possible! Their chemistry is explosive and intense, even as they do all they can to deny it. Oh my heart, how they deny and it is lovely and awesome and hilarious to watch them circle each other and try so very hard not to engage the other in conversation in the beginning, but one says something that the other just can't leave alone and oh my word, friends, I love every single bit of interaction they have!
And John and Maggie....ah, how I didn't expect to fall in love with these two! I was appropriately wary of John every time he came on the page, oh but not Maggie. Never Maggie! She is fierce and amazing and anything but scared of John. And he's a guy that is worthy of fear, let me tell you. He wields his power with control and his facial expressions rarely relax. But oh his soft center that only a certain someone is privy to? Ah, I don't know what to say about these two characters except that you have to meet them! I never in my wildest dreams expected to like Don John, but John Morello? Oh, just go meet him and then you'll see what I'm talking about.
Then there's all the other vast array of characters with their heartbreaks and happiness and all manner of goings-on. They have such relatability, even though I am nothing like nor do I understand anything about how they lived their lives. Yet that didn't matter, because I knew their hearts. I fell in love with so much of this book because Ms. George's words, people. I kept highlighting multiple sentences and whole paragraphs and just simply being blown away by the sheer charm and delight of being swept up in her ability to smoosh together a mere twenty-six letters to create such beauty.
This book, y'all. I could probably spend ten or twenty more paragraphs trying to expound on how much I loved it. (I won't. :) It's definitely more a character-driven story surrounded by a glorious setting, which is always a big draw for me. And just trust me! If you like Much Ado, I think you really ought to give this one a try! It's just SO GOOD, PEOPLE. So, so good! :D
Tiredness hovered within reach like a crouched fox waiting for a chicken, but she didn't give in to it. You couldn't get too comfortable; that was the trick. The comfortable way was usually wherever the current was going, and Beatrice rarely found herself wanting to go that direction.
Clock throwing was to be expected with that sort of idiocy; that was what Beatrice thought, but even so, she did try, she did say: "She's clearly suffering bichloride mercury poisoning; she needs a hospital." (Though Beatrice might not have listened to herself, either, since she had also prefaced it with "you incompetent fool.")
"Whatever compels you to think I care to hear your opinions on my actions, kindly locate that inner switch and turn it off."
The music, loose and unpredictable, played by a full stage band, surrounded them. There was no way to hum along. The mere act of listening, holding on by your fingertips, was a dance in and of itself.
"What are you rambling about, you nonsensical contradiction?"
"Secondly, we both know 'special automotive toolbox' was your name for whatever distraction you were going to cook up to keep me away from the car, and of course now we see why"
"You shoot things and don't fear spiders and are about as sweet as a lemon. What would a man even do with you?" "The better question is what I would do with a man."
Benedick opened his door and stood up, keeping one elbow on the doorframe, the other on the Ford's roof, shedding his exhaustion like a winter coat. His eyes brightened, and his pale, clammy skin managed to defy medicine and glow. "Have I got a story for you!"
And it was a story—in that it was not quite the truth.
But it wasn't a lie either.
Listening to him, Beatrice experienced the afternoon all over again, but this time there was no real danger. There was a boy who'd had a terrific idea that went a little off the rails and a girl who was a good sport and just the kind of sidekick you'd like to have along. Beatrice heard herself laugh when Benedick described her shooting off a man's hat, but it hadn't seemed that funny when it actually happened.
There was a sunniness in his words that somehow even disguised his appearance, erasing the boy shaking with exhaustion, flattening all his mercurial layers into one outfit of razzle-dazzle. But the razzle-dazzle was also real. That was the most baffling part of all. He was this, too.
She let him do it, not only because she came out looking all right in his story, not a clock-throwing ruin of a girl, but also because Benedick's talking about her as if she were already one of them made her one of them.
What a tricky, tangled science.