Review: Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure by Courtney Milan

Reviewed by Olive

Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure, a novella in Milan’s Worth Saga series, tells the story of the seventy-three years young widow Bertrice Martin, the bad behaviour of her Terrible Nephew, and how she finally decided to do something about it & him. She’s inspired to take action by Violetta Beauchamps, the manager of the boarding house where Terrible Nephew has his rooms.

Violetta is looking for a little boost to her financials, now that she’s been forcibly retired, and she’s not above a little fraud to get it. Cut off without her promised pension, exhausted at the idea of looking for more work at sixty-nine, and fed up with the Terrible Nephew and the two years of arrears he owes, she’s determined to get the needed funds from Mrs. Martin.

This is a delightfully angry romp about two women who have had ENOUGH, are finding their voice, their power, and each other. It’s probably the angriest romance I’ve ever read and I’m so impressed with the way Milan channeled something so many of us have been feeling into a glorious work that manages to explore themes of class, privilege, bisexuality, #notallmen, pervasive misogyny, and the cisheteropatriarchy.

Throughout the story, societal assumptions that men are better, smarter, or somehow worth more are rejected at every possible opportunity. They’re lazy, bullies, incompetent, and a whole host of other negative qualities. Hopefully it won’t be a surprise to anyone that men can be these things. It’s very clear that Milan’s point *isn’t* that all men are horrible – there are a few quality examples in the story and everything – it’s that so many are, in such insidious ways, that life is made immeasurably harder for women who don’t conform to the things a society built largely by and for men expects from them.

The Terrible Nephew is, well, terrible. I adore that Mrs. Martin refuses to refer to him by name until she compromises with him and says she’ll call him “Mr. Cappish, a despicable bag of diseased meat.”

This is not to say that either of these women are perfect humans (if there even *is* such a thing). Yes, they’re both clever and strong and incredible … AND they both operate under assumptions that need to be unpacked and examined. To the delight of her readership, Milan is the sort of author to dissect that stuff on the page. They also both have a lifetime of festering hurts to lance and heal.

At this point, you may be thinking “oof, this sounds heavy” and, while the themes are, it’s really not. It’s ridiculously funny, laugh-out-loud funny, don’t-read-while-drinking-anything funny. See above in re: “despicable bag of diseased meat.” They hire a choir to wake the Terrible Nephew and follow him around singing badly off-key and at full voice. There are multiple scenarios involving confused and annoyed farm animals. They make cheese toast throughout the story. My two favourite such meals are the one they make over the fire Bertrice set to the boarding house and the one with roughly hewn bits after Violetta tries to teach Bertrice to make it and Bertrice decides to kill the bread dead.

Their love affair is sweet and the sex is great, while managing to take their age (and age-related concerns) into consideration. I LOVE that Milan makes it clear they’re not too old to fall in love and, perhaps more importantly in terms of smashing ableist/ageist stereotypes, to have sexual desires. That’s right, they bang and it’s oh so good.

Side note – I *strongly recommend* reading the Author’s Note and Acknowledgements if those aren’t part of your general reader MO.

Rating: A-

*ARC provided by author

Click to purchase (preorder until tomorrow): amazon

Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure
by Courtney Milan
Release Date: March 26, 2019
Publisher: self published

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