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The Ugly Duckling

1 rating: 4.0
A book by Iris Johansen

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Author: Iris Johansen
Publisher: Bantam
1 review about The Ugly Duckling

"No fathers or mothers think their own children ugly." Miguel De Cervantes

  • Nov 3, 2010
Rating:
+4
This story shows the development of a woman from a meek, submissive housewife who is plain, into an assertive, and lovely woman who knows what she wants and how to get it.

Nell Calder wasn't an attractive woman. Her  mother even informed her that she was ugly. How she lived in a home with a cold, unfeeling mother like that, showed an inner strength that was yet to be seen.

She marries a banker named Richard and they move to Europe with her four-year-old daughter, Jill. They are giving a party on an island on the Aegean Sea when her husband and daughter are murdered. Nell falls from a balcony while struggling with the killer and she needs plastic surgery.

After the surgery, her appearance changed to that of a lovely woman but she was still a shell inside. When she found that her family was killed, she goes into a depressed state.

Nicholas Tanek was at the party and feels somewhat responsible for the murders. He tells Nell that the man responsible is named Philippe Gardeaux and that the killer, Paul Maritz, acted on Gardeaux's orders. Nicholas tells Nell that Gardeaux is a criminal and is attempting to win prestige and position with the Colombian drug lords.

After learning this, Nell has a new reason to live, revenge.

The author does a nice job in describing Nell's progress into a woman possessed with the need to seek revenge. We also see Nicholas bring out a soft side of her when he remembers that she was an art student in college.

Nicholas is a minor criminal and a rival of Gardeaux but he doesn't deal in drugs. He brings Nell to his ranch to train and admits that he is an adversary of Gardeaux and will continue to pursue him for Nell but she tells him that she wants to be part of the revenge, with his help.

The novel is well written and the author keeps the story moving. There are a number of interesting characters such as when Nell is undergoing training at a paramilitary facility. She meets a young man named Peter Drake who has been sent to the facility by his father so he could become tough. Peter is a childlike person and Nell becomes like a big sister and changes his life.

I enjoyed the novel and think that the author was trying to tell us about a woman who has lost everything but her will to live.

The author provided a nice surprise toward the conclusion that was well done and logical. Very enjoyable.

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November 08, 2010
I read this book ol' so long ago! I think I was in high school or in my early years as an undegrad. Your review brought back a lot of memories! Thanks so much for writing and sharing your thoughts.
November 09, 2010
Hi Adrianna; Thanks for the nice words. You always say the nicest things and I look forward to hearing from you. Mike
November 09, 2010
Aw, no problem, Mike! I try my best to drop by and read people's reviews when I have the time, which seems to be nonexistent these days. :-P I always look forward to your reviews! If there is ever a specific one you want me to read, feel free to send me a comment or email with a link. :)
 
November 04, 2010
Nice review, Michael, but I think the name of the topic is a little mixed up. Shouldn't it just be "THE UGLY DUCKLING".
 
November 03, 2010
Hi Sharrie; Thanks for your comments. I certainly wouldn't read this if you feel that way about murders. In particular with the murder of a 4 year old child. I thought that was a bit extreme and usually not seen in mysteries. Mike
 
November 03, 2010
I had enjoyed a great deal of Iris Johansen's romance novels until she ventured into murders. Yes, she's certainly a great writer with a great amount of imagination. I stopped reading her novel since mostly because I'm not into plots with murders and mysteries. I guess I just don't enjoy stories with murders in them that much. Great that you enjoy her novel. I'm just curious what has become of her lately :-)
 
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6 (Eve Duncan) Novels by Iris Johansen plus Ugly
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