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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Anya Seton

"Green Darkness" by Anya Seton: This is the fourth of Seton's books I've read and I had very mixed feelings about it. I really loved her other books, "Katherine" and "The Winthrop Woman", which were true historical novels. The historical detail and the behavior and interior life of the characters seemed faithful to the era they lived in. The novels were "all of a piece" and nothing rang false. Whereas "Green Darkness" and "Dragonwyck" fall more into the category of the English or American Gothic romance/thriller, centered around a beautiful, seductively innocent heroine who is enraptured with a dark & glamorous "hero" who later turns out to be psychotic.  You know, a bit of a bodice-ripper. "Green Darkness" is actually a hybrid creature that combines elements of both styles--gothic romance and historical fiction. The book is divided into three parts, with a time travel / reincarnation plot device that allows the characters to simultaneously inhabit the 16th century Tudor era and the 20th century.
Nope, just didn't work for me.
So many of the reviews I read (later on, after I'd finished the book) mentioned that they'd first encountered this book as a teenager. That explains a lot. I can definitely see how this book would thrill an adolescent with a romantic turn of mind.  I will never forget discovering "Wuthering Heights" as a 15-year old and being absolutely blown away... I'd never encountered anything so romantic as poor Cathy and her mad Heathcliff on the moors. But being 57 and a little jaded, it's not quite my thing.

I'm looking forward to reading "Bring Up the Bodies", the sequel to Hilary Mantel's "Wolf Hall". Now there is a writer who can capture the past and interpret the mindsets of people who lived five centuries ago, so skillfully that you feel as if they are whispering their story directly into your ear. I can't wait.

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