Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Amelia predicts you'll love THE VESPERTINE by Saundra Mitchell

I'm usually not a fan of historical fiction.  It's difficult for me to care about problems that don't exist today, like tight corsets and strict courting rules.  But Saundra Mitchell's writing is so pure and so real, I was sucked back in time.

Within the first few pages of The Vespertine, we know Amelia is "ruined."  Then the story jumps back a few months and we watch her ruination unfold.  I found myself (even with my staunch apathy towards courting rules of the past) constantly worried about Amelia's reputation.  Each time she bent the rules, I'd think, "Amelia!  Your virtue!  Protect your virtue!"  Somehow Mitchell's amazing words turned me into a Victorian grandma.

I think that's what I loved most about this book.  Mitchell creates a world so solid, so complete, that I was both shocked and exhilarated by Amelia's daring when she touched a boy's bare hand or asked for his address.

And really, I don't think the story would work as well in any other time period.  Amelia sees the future in the sunset.  She doesn't know when or where the images she sees will unfold, only that they will.  In a time when spiritualism was all the rave, Amelia's gift makes her very popular in Baltimore....until she's blamed for the tragedies she foresees.

I love how the characters readily accepted the supernatural occurrences in the novel.  And that makes sense, really.  There was so much we didn't know and didn't understand about our world in the Victorian era.  Now, we'd be concerned with the hows and whys, but back then, not knowing was just part of life.

Mitchell somehow manages to write both a beautiful and fast-paced story.  She also doesn't pull any punches, this is truly a gothic novel with its fair share of devastation.

I see in the'll love it!

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