Thursday, June 27, 2013

Strands of Bronze and Gold, by Jane Nickerson

Holy flying time, Batman! What happened to May and June??

I've been busy, and I haven't had much time to read in the last two months. But the truth is I haven't been inspired to blog because nothing I've read lately has really grabbed me and made me want to force you all to read it too because it's so amazing. Sad to say, I've taken a great number of books back to the library unfinished. I just don't have the time or the attention span to put up with contrived plots, boring characters and laboured writing.

I read this book several months ago, and reviewed it for CM Magazine (note that my CM review contains spoilers) and Goodreads, but I never got around to blogging about it. I'm going to blog about it now because it's a Canadian book, and I've only got three more days to make my Canadian Book Challenge quota (and I think I still need at least three books, yikes!). And because it was neither contrived, boring nor laboured!

Strands of Bronze and Gold is a retelling of the Bluebeard story, one of the more disturbing fairy tales out there. Set in the American South before the Civil War, Nickerson's version revisits Bluebeard as M. Bernard de Cressac, a wealthy Frenchman who transported an ancient abbey stone-by-stone from Europe to Mississippi. The story takes place in his huge castle-like house with rambling rooms and mysterious ruins in the garden; the setting is vivid enough to be a character itself.

The main character is de Cressac's goddaughter, Sophie. He invites her to live with him as his ward after her parents die and her family becomes destitute. At first it's a dream come true of luxury and beauty, but Sophie gradually realizes that the house is haunted by the ghosts of de Cressac's former wives. What exactly happened to them? Then de Cressac asks Sophie to marry him.

Creepy, lush, gothic, suspenseful and atmospheric, Strands of Bronze and Gold plays with the original fairy tale, making it possibly even more disturbing. Not action-packed: it's about the slow dawning of horror as Sophia realizes what her godfather really wants from her, and discovers what he has done.

Grilled peaches with bacon and maple syrup on cornbread.

I wouldn't recommend it for younger readers; nothing explicit, but mature themes.

This is my 9th Canadian book reviewed this year. Check out The Book Mine Set for lots of great Canadian books to read.

1 comment:

  1. I love it when a setting becomes a character in its own right, and what better setting than a Gothic castle house! I've heard mixed reviews about this book, but I'm still drawn to it and your review makes me want to read it even more. No, I'll amend that, your review has absolutely made me want to go out now and get my hands on a copy (as my TOWER of library books glares at me).