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“A person who is just strong and able without trying is rather boring, don’t you think? A person who has made himself that way by dint of his own will is much more interesting. That’s the kind of person they put in books and songs and things,” Vida. –Beautiful Wild
by Anna Godbersen
Vida Hazzard can see her future. Aboard the heralded “Millionaire’s Ship of the West,” she’ll charm the young scion Fitzhugh Farrar, resulting in a proposal of marriage.
But Vida didn’t plan on Fitz’s best friend Sal, a rough-around-the-edges boy with a talent for getting under her skin. Nor did she anticipate a hurricane dashing their ship and her dreams to pieces. Now stranded on an island with both Fitz and Sal, Vida is torn between the life she’s always planned for, and a future she’s never dared to want. As they desperately plot a course for home, Vida will discover which boy will capture her wild heart—and where her future truly lies.
Beautiful Wild has an interesting premise, but the predictable plot and spoiled protagonist make the story drag. First of all, Vida is a self-centered girl whose only goal is to snag Fitz as a husband, even though she has no genuine feelings for him. Vida longs for adventure but realizes “that the adventures of young women are adventures of the heart—or of husband-hunting. And that it was enough for you to see the heights of the world through the eyes of the man you would marry.” When Vida finally wins Fitz’s heart, she realizes her longing for clothes, parties, and acceptance in society means nothing to her. Unrealistically, she sails off into the sunset, alone and in search of her true love, Sal.
Even though the story is written in third person, Vida’s thoughts take center stage. Unfortunately, Vida’s conflicts are revealed through long-winded passages. In addition, readers may have a hard time relating to Vida because the girl is selfish and vain. Even after Vida learns that Fitz has been in a long-standing sexual relationship with his brother’s wife, Vida still wants to marry him so her own materialistic wants will be fulfilled. When Vida begins to have doubts, Vida’s mother reminds her of the importance of getting married, because if she doesn’t “your life will be aimless, and you won’t be anybody at all.”
Beautiful Wild has elements of a survival story as well as a romance but lacks action and character development. Vida’s two love interests are so undeveloped that the love triangle lacks suspense. However, readers will come away from reading Beautiful Wild with a new understanding of the restrictive lives women had in the past. The ending is predictable and lacks an emotional impact. Readers who like to understand a character’s inner musings may like Beautiful Wild. However, if you’re looking for a heartfelt romance or an action-packed survival story, Beautiful Wild will leave you disappointed.
- It’s revealed that Fitz had a sexual relationship with his brother’s wife.
- Vida goes to find Fitz in the hopes that “Fitz would kiss her.”
- Fitz kisses Vida. “His face moved toward hers, his chin tilted—in a moment she would close her eyes to accept his kiss. His hands spread over her waist, and she felt the press of his mouth against hers, and the warmth of his breath, and the pump of his heart.”
- Vida asks Sal why he didn’t try to kiss her. She thinks, “It had been so easy to get Whiting, and Bill, and Theodore to kiss her—why should Sal be so difficult?”
- After Fitz returns with help, he tells Vida, “When I was on that raft, in the storm, when the sea was all around me and we seemed certain to drown, I kept thinking of your lips, and I thought that if I could only steer her true, I’d survive and I’d be able to kiss you again.” Fitz then gives Vida a “chaste kiss just slightly off the mark of her mouth.”
- Before her upcoming marriage, Vida seeks out Sal. “And then quite unexpectedly her fingers fluttered up, brushed his lips, his jaw, gently pinched his earlobe. . . Her mouth found his mouth. . . Then he returned the pressure of her kiss, and she knew what it was to want and be wanted in equal measure.”
- Later, Vida thinks about kissing Sal and wonders “what the next kiss would have been like, and the one after that.”
- Their ship sinks and Camilla’s husband dies. Vida sees Camilla “as she tried to protect the body splayed on the beach. A dead body.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- A gossip columnist writes that “the heir to the shipping fortune drank more than his older brother thought proper.”
- Vida has a hangover after drinking a “hideous quantity of champagne.”
- When the ship is ready to depart, “champagne bottles popped. . . cheers erupted.”
- While at parties and on the ship, Vida drinks champagne.
- Vida thinks about all of the gentlemen in a room. One man was “liable to drink too much and become boorish.”
- Fitz tells Vida that when they are saved, the two of them will “play bridge, and we’ll have cocoa and whiskey and we’ll dance.”
- When Fitz scolds Vida, no one notices because “everyone was a little drunk.”
- When Vida’s father talks about her upcoming marriage, Vida stops him. “Her Father—Vida supposed—made a gesture that implied she’d been too free with the passing trays of champagne last night.”
- At her engagement party, someone finds Vida upset. The person tells her to “have some sherry to fortify you for the rest of the night.” Vida drinks brandy, which “stung her mouth and snapped her back to this place.” As the night progresses, Vida drinks enough to have a hangover the next day.
- Damn is used five times. Vida is afraid that she will never get the tangles out of her hair. She says, “Tomorrow I will cut the damn braid off.”
- My God and oh God are both used as an exclamation once.
- Vida calls someone a bastard.
- When someone gives Vida a knife, her mother tells her, “If you accept a blade as a wedding gift, it means the marriage will fail.”
- Vida’s lady’s maid tries to hide the champagne glasses from Vida’s father. When he leaves the room, she says, “Oh thank God.”
- The ship passengers hold a funeral service for a man who died. The man’s brother says, “He is with God now. May his soul be at rest.”
- After the ship sinks, Vida is worried about a friend. She prays, “God, please, let her still be [alive].”
- The surviving passengers are forced to hide in a cave. Vida “had prayed for the night to end.”