Audiobook Review: An Ignorance of Means by Jennifer Oakley Denslow

Posted April 19, 2021 by Stephanie in Audiobook, Historical Fiction, Reviews / 9 Comments

Title: An Ignorance of Means
Author: Jennifer Oakley Denslow
Narrator: Elisabeth Lagelee
Publication: January 20, 2021
Genre: Historical Fiction
Find it on: Amazon/Audible
Rating: 3/5

In 18th century France, women had few choices and little chance to shape their destiny.

Within these limits, Catherine Drummond dreams of a marriage as supportive and tender as that of her parents. But on her wedding night, her new husband relates his own vision.

Catherine’s desire for sweet domesticity is crushed when Robert Picard reveals himself to be a man of his time, and assumes he will have the freedom to cavort without censure among the pantheon of women he has always kept.

She is trapped in the gilded cage of the chateau Lac d’Or.

Catherine attempts to escape, only to be cast into a fresh hell from which release means being sent on a treacherous journey she could never imagine.

This story begins with Catherine Drummond who is about to get married to the wealthy Robert Picard and leaving her modest childhood home and doting parents for Picard’s chateau Lac d’Or. Catherine hopes for a loving marriage just like the one her parents have but those hopes get crushed quickly after her wedding night when he reveals to only wanting a pretty wife to bear his heir and not much else.

I know this book is being presented as a historical romance but in my own opinion it definitely isn’t that. This book shows the reality of 18th century France and how most men of the time thought about marriage and children. Catherine may have been naive when she initially married Picard but she knows that being in a loveless marriage isn’t something she wants for herself. She starts looking for a way to escape chateau Lac d’Or but this isn’t without severe consequences.

For the most part I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook. The writing was absolutely beautiful and I liked Catherine’s perseverance. There were just some little things that bothered me. Catherine never seemed to catch a break which made this quite a sad story. That on its own would be fine because I don’t want to only read happy books but eventually it was all starting to border on depressing. Also whenever she seemed to found someone who could be an ally or even a friend to her they ended up dying or for example with a character named Genevieve’s, we don’t actually know what happened to her. Did she survive? Did she die? Did I miss something? It just confused me a bit.

The end was quite abrupt as well, which is something I never really like with any story. I had a good idea where it would end but I hadn’t expected the suddenness of it. After all the trouble Catherine went through it seemed a little too easy that her father suddenly shows up. But I guess I should be glad it was a good ending at all with all the misery that proceeded it.

About the narrator: I had to get used to Elisabeth Lagelee’s voice and way of storytelling but I quickly came to enjoy listening to her and would love to listening to more books in the future that she narrated.

An Ignorance of Means by Jennifer Oakley Denslow is one of the better audiobooks I’ve listened to recently. I do have some things I pointed out above that I didn’t necessarily love but for the most part I enjoyed Catherine’s journey and am glad it had a happy ending.


About the author:

Like so many writers, Jennifer Oakley Denslow began her journey as a passionate reader. Compelled to tell the stories she wanted to read, Denslow began writing early.

As a student, she penned short stories, poems and impassioned letters to the editor. Later a BA in English followed by a Master’s degree in Composition and Rhetoric firmly sealed her fate as a writer. Her love of complex characters led to a twenty-five-year career as a theater educator and a series of award-winning essays. But it wasn’t until Denslow learned about the fille de cassette, or ‘casket girls’ sent to wed men in French colonies, that she was compelled to write a novel about the plight of women in historical times, and an Ignorance of Means was born.

Denslow is drawn to strong female protagonists with sharp intellects, and stories that delve into experiences far beyond the scope of our daily lives. When she isn’t using every spare second to pen her latest novel, she can be found coaching her debate team and working with young actors to create the emotional experiences for which theater was created.

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9 responses to “Audiobook Review: An Ignorance of Means by Jennifer Oakley Denslow

  1. verushka

    Ouch, I get a good angsty story, but when it strays into misery, I lose interest in the story. There’s only 80 much I can take I think.

  2. Looks like the premise (like the title) was interesting, but the execution left something unfinished. It is so frustrating that women of a certain age were so financially dependent on others, and more so, for the women born poor, as orphaned, or with little likelihood of accomplishing a marriage in the first place.

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