The Rapunzel Dilemma
Penguin Books AUS
Copy courtesy of the publisher
Growing up in wealth and privilege, Lily de Tourney has had it easy her whole life. She’s never wanted for anything and has always been able to achieve what she wanted. Now what she wants is to become an actress and she has a chance to audition for the London Drama Academy, despite the fact that she had to run out early on the summer program she took recently.
Although Lily does get accepted, it seems her reputation has preceded her and the other students are resentful of her second chance and hardly what you’d call welcoming. This is Lily’s only chance to live her dream however so she’s determined to put her head down and not let the lack of friendliness from her room mates bother her. She needs everything to go perfectly but it seems like things are just getting worse. She’s distracted in her classes and keeps messing up, earning herself criticism from her idol. The pranks on her escalate, becoming so serious that Lily knows if they take it to the head of the college, she would be kicked out in disgrace. She needs to try and find out just who is staging this vendetta against her.
The only bright spot is the mysterious Ronan Carver, a student at the art school adjoining the drama academy. They’re from very different walks of life but Lily is deeply intrigued by him. He might just be the only friend she has, if they can both navigate their differences and other people’s reactions to them.
The Rapunzel Dilemma is the companion novel to The Cinderella Moment, this one focusing on Lily, who so cunningly convinced Angel to go to Paris in her place so that she could go to a drama school in London. The Rapunzel Dilemma picks up not long after The Cinderella Moment leaves off, with Lily doing her audition to be accepted into to London Drama Academy as a student. Angel is busy working for Vidal, learning fashion design and Lily is in London, not only with the pressure of having to audition but also harbouring a terrible secret, something that is weighing on her.
To be honest, I found myself a bit bothered by Lily’s secret. She’s manipulated in this book by her aristocratic grandmother who wants her to join some Debutante Club whilst she’s in London so that she can acquire some “polish” and also by her father, who really puts her in the most horrid situation. I was kind of questioning to myself how this was something that could be forced for most of the book other than by parental guilt and disappointment, the thought of which was pretty horrible.
I enjoyed a lot of the drama stuff at the academy, learning about the classes that Lily was undertaking which were far more intensive and varied than I realised. I’ve read books with people performing theatre before but not whilst they’re learning the craft at an academy so that was really interesting to learn about. The story with her being targeted because the students she had been given preferential treatment because her father is extremely wealthy (not an entirely unfounded belief either) was relatively predictable but I think the perpetrator was not.
I liked the introduction of Ronan and I think his first few interactions with Lily were really fun and exciting but I have to admit, my interest in them tapered off a bit after that. Once she knew who he was and they began ‘hanging out’ as such, the mystery kind of collapsed and there didn’t seem to be a huge amount of chemistry. I never really ‘got the feels’ with them as a couple – I think I liked them both much more separately than together. Ronan’s back story was a good mystery and definitely not what I was expecting and I liked the contrast between his upbringing and Lily’s. I think I’d have liked a bit more information about his school as well. They all seemed like a lot of fun!
I found Lily quite a passive character for most of this book – I actually would’ve thought she’d be more proactive at trying to find out who was framing her and why. Instead mostly what she does is just kind of complain about it and hide from people. Also, perhaps this is just because I’m older, but part of this can be seen coming from a mile away and Lily just does not get it! Not even after she stumbles upon something that a) she shouldn’t have seen and is b) highly suspicious. She just kind of files it away in a box and forgets about it until everything has pretty much all come out already at the end. I also didn’t find this book’s tie in to the fairytale in the name anywhere near as believable as it was in the previous book unfortunately.
The Rapunzel Dilemma is okay. I liked it enough but I could see that for me, there just wasn’t quite enough depth to the characters and the story was a little flimsy. Parts of it were really promising but others just didn’t really work for me. I think the basics were there but in the end it perhaps wasn’t overly the sort of story I could fall in love with.
Book #176 of 2014
The Rapunzel Dilemma is book #65 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014