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Modern fairytale retelling set in a theatre boarding school

The Rapunzel Dilemma - Jennifer Kloester

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my review in any way.

So me and this book had a few troubles. After being approved on Netgalley (which took so long it was already out by the time I was) I realised from reading other reviews that though it is a companion novel, The Cinderella Moment should be read before The Rapunzel Dilemma. Considering I’d been planning on reading it anyway I thought I would track it down, shouldn’t be too hard, right? Except Dymocks didn’t have it in so I had to wait a week for it to come in. So then I got it, finally, read it in a day. All good. I start The Rapunzel Dilemma that night only to get thirty pages in to my galley and encounter a blank page in the middle of a chapter and the next couple of pages seemingly out of order. Close Adobe Editions, open it again, restart laptop – nothing worked. And I couldn’t re-download it from Netgalley because I’d taken so long to get around to it that it had been archived. Great. However, I refused to be beaten and the next time I was in the city (Thursday) I bought myself a paperback copy (as well as some other goodies, because I can). I finished the book I’d moved on to and FINALLY I was on my way.

The Rapunzel Dilemma picks up a few weeks after the happy ending of The Cinderella Moment. Lily has convinced her father that he should let her attend the London Drama Academy, an idea he was not too keen on to begin with. But he has made her a deal: he will allow her three years at the Academy and then she will have to step into her role in the family business. She begrudgingly agrees, for now, and receives a rare audition for the Academy. Instantly, her new classmates believe that it is Lily’s money and connections that have got her there and as you can imagine they are livid. I would be too and I don’t blame them at all. So for the first time ever life is not easy for Lily de Tourney and she finds that at the Academy her status and privilege mean nothing other than being able to purchase an expensive bedspread to rub her roommates’ noses in (not literally!) which really is not going to make them like you any more than before. The classes are difficult, too, and Lily is also learning that even though she loves acting, she might not actually be as good as she thinks she is.

As well as handling all the drama of being the rich kid nobody likes, someone is also trying to sabotage Lily’s new friendships and things start to go missing, get ruined and trashed and all fingers point to Lily, even though she’s getting menacing letters in her locker. Oh wait, don’t forget the love interest! Cue entry of mysterious, angsty, good looking boy from the other side of the tracks.

The Rapunzel parallels are in Lily’s long blonde locks and the Tower in which she seeks refuge from the students who dislike her, the sabotage and from her teachers’ harsh (but in my opinion deserved) criticism. Basically, there’s a reason no one likes Lily. She is spoiled and privileged and has no idea about the real world and what goes on in it. Even when she recognises this she doesn’t change her attitude so it is hard to like her. She is incredibly naïve and I couldn’t believe that she didn’t realise that obviously she had help getting her audition at the Academy. I could still feel the fairytale element in this story but not quite as well, although overall I enjoyed it more than I did The Cinderella Moment. There were few parallels in the flow of the two stories, particularly in misunderstandings with the respective love interests and another rushed conclusion where everything is tied up with a neat bow in the last thirty pages or so.

So what did I like? Because I did like it, even though I didn’t like Lily, didn’t really like the romance and didn’t like how rushed the conclusion was. Wait….did I like this? Well, I did. I liked the boarding school setting and I liked the friendships, especially Angel and Lily’s friendship and how Lily had to more or less learn how to make friends with people who didn’t like her. I thought the blossoming friendships with her roommates were sweet but I didn’t particularly care for Max much at all, despite the fact that he was the first one to befriend her. Hands down my favourite character is still Grandmama, who has a more subtle role in this story but makes an appearance nonetheless. I completely understand Grandmama even when Lily doesn’t – imagine finding your 16-year-old granddaughter at a hotel in the English countryside and meet her male companion wearing nothing but a towel! Even if he had been the most upperclass young man ever she still would have thrown a fit (you would hope, in the name of good grandparenting) despite it all being a case of misunderstanding. Surely Lily and Ronan would realise that? But it’s a fairytale! There needs to be conflict for a nice resolution.

And look it was a nice, if somewhat unrealistic, resolution. It was a fairly enjoyable read and the ending was nice, but on further thought I have dropped my rating from 4 stars to 3.5. It wasn’t spectacular but it was a nice and light, fluffy read.