Friday, February 3, 2012
The Vespertine (The Vespertine, #1)
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
was that a beginning or what!
My goodness gracious it was altogether darkly delicious and down right seductive. I hardly ever use such words when describing books but this one just turned me inside out, jumbled me with giddiness to get further into the story and I am just 3 pages in! The only downfall is I am a sucker for a good happy ending because all stories must end lovely for the good guys right? I sure hope so because I am treading carefully onto thin sheets of ice having already glimpsed what is likely to be the ending.
perhaps it is because I have been reading non stop these last few days but the Vespertine has this swift, alert, wretchedly heartbroken, and underlying desperation that nags and chips away at the reader. I feel I must confuse that the Vespertine is simply one of those books that claws-rather painfully I suppose- at you until you succumb to it's bidding.
Amelia van den Broek is not by any standards a city girl. Not a single drop of the Victorian era lines in her, but her brother is determined to nip that in the bud and so in an effort to marry his little sister off to a nice, wealthy suitor he sends Amelia to her cousin Zora's Baltimore, Maryland lavish town house where tea is served on lace dollies with women wrapped tightly in fine silks, and dinner parties are hosted with a strict amount of fourteen guests.
When Amelia meets the fourteenth guest at her very first dinner party she flirts away her wits, unable to help herself when she felts the electricity fly between the two of them, ignoring Zora's placid reminders that Nathaniel is an artist and therefore a penniless, ineligible bachelor. But what society does not know is that Nathaniel harbors a darkly seductive talent, a talent to jump through air, to in a drug store one moment and at Zora's residence in the next. Amelia is harboring a great secret as well, through the correct picking of calling cards, the lavish innovations to balls, the yards of lace, linens, silk, and sateens to be mended into the very height of London fashion, Amelia disregards her cousins warnings, her own guards against giving into the rapid attraction to Nathaniel and falls in love with him.
Just in the midst of all of this Mitchell weaves another story, Zora and Thomas Rea, the handsomely blond and suitable in all the Victorian courting ways. Soon the two will be married, Amelia has seen it! Yes thats right, Amelia holds the power to see the future and with it comes the fame of her cousins society.
It was while a brisk walk in the park with the men and their cigars and a bow an arrow lesson for the women that it happened. A horrid vision of blood and feathers came true, days before Amelia had and relayed a vision of Zora's cousin and an accident with the bow she was to have and now here it was happening. The bow drew and quivered like a re-viewing of a bad Opera and then the arrow exploded, only there was no blood. Amelia convinced herself this was the vision she had seen and she had been there to stop it, her popularity soared.
weeks later a card was delivered, weeps and whispers would be had, two cousins would be caught ease-dropping at the top of the old stairs and be told the news. Zora's cousin had a terrible bow an arrow accident, her face was terribly scarred. Everybody would not speak, but it was clear, they would blame Amelia. For as it was, she was the outsider from the country who saw terrible, horrible visions of blood and feathers. It wasn't until the second tragedy stroke did it shake the city of Baltimore to it's core. The once stunning cousin of Zora committed suicide and the blame was falling onto Thomas, a gun rung out, a tear slide down a cheek, a name was called out and a young lady was purchased a ticket. She was told to leave and escorted to a boat. Nathaniel was never told...perhaps?
Never have I enjoyed a novel more than I enjoyed this, never has a novel been so stunning. Every word dragged you further into Amelia's turmoil, every tear made your heart ache, the bittersweet ending reminded me of the poetry of Anne Bronte and my heart seized at the recollection. I found that I checked the book out again, sat down and in one day read the book for the second time. The portrayal of London society is one to me reviled with and has been drawn upon for inspiration.