and, honestly, the book itself is not terrible. she captures the gothic sensibility well; the descriptions and the ambiguity and the horror – oh – the horror!!! and the melodrama are all there, and the *yawn* erotic and the opium and the lines like:
–This dungeon was to represent the secret cell within ourselves where all our private haunting took place.
–There would be no ghost stories this night, but in my heart I knew our own ghosts were already being raised.
–“Madness, Mary, is all about us. It is the very air we breathe. Should we stop breathing for fear of its exhilaration?”
i mean, for the gothic horror genre, there’s gonna be some of that, and while it is incredibly affected and full of wide-eyed deliveries of lines of great dramatic import, you can’t fault someone for operating within genre-conventions, even when those conventions are ludicrous.
“Could you be so blind as to link hands with the devil??”
but why drag byron into it?? i know how tempting it is – that summer, the freedom of expatriatism, mixed genders, late nights, wine and animals and the birth of some of the most enduring works of literature… but let’s not get carried away like so many people have:
a casual approach to marriage does not necessarily lead to orgies. just because there is a lady present, doesn’t mean byron’s gonna fuck her. two male poets do not always end up in bed together. and writing about monsters does not bring them to life.
this book isn’t guilty of all of the above, but they are all part of the mythology, and it’s all fine and fun, but is the same situation that turns locker-room gossip into gospel. and does it matter when the participants are long-dead? to me, yes, because the myth is easy and lurid and the facts are more elusive but so so much more interesting. trust a girl.
“It is not death I fear – but reality…whatever is beginning to occur among us has its roots in evil. I am possessed with that thought.”
“Evil? What is evil, Mary?”
“Sin, then! Sin!” My voice rose and I paused before him. His face never lost its composure, or his voice its calm.
“What sin can there possibly be in searching for truth? There cannot be, Mary, any more than there could be sin in love.”
bleargh. sorry, but bleargh.
this book is as useful as any other of the romantic/gothic takes on the byronic legacy, but it isn’t particularly well-written, and doesn’t really bring the characters to life. there is no need to track it down…