This historical, romantic novel, is set in Regency England and Venice, during 1816 with the author capturing the period accurately, giving us the sights, sounds and smells of London and Venice. The romance is of the blackest kind, with the main character Ann the victim.
Although she is an author of Gothic murder mysteries, and a successful, independent, young woman, her upbringing was disastrous, leaving her with very little self-esteem. She believes she is quite worthless, as her mother often reminded her, and accepts abuse as her lot in life.
Ann is invited to a dinner party, and meets and falls in love with an Irish genius and writer, Robert James, who dared to criticise……everything! “The legal robbery of the Government is not its taxation, but its opinions”, was one of his many quotes.
After living together for a short time, Robert becomes terribly bored, suggesting they moved to Venice. Although he had little income he refused to be worried by petty issues such as finance.
Descriptions of Venice, the architecture, the politics and the customs are beautifully relayed, providing a welcome backdrop for the disastrous turns that Ann’s relationship is taking. She manages to find a job, tutoring a young woman in English but their money is rapidly being spent.
Eventually tragedy strikes and a man who is a stranger to Ann rescues her, taking her from Venice back to France by many a devious route as she has no papers. There she discovers her mother dying but as she is ill herself, finds she cannot understand what it is her mother means when she talks about her husband: Ann’s father.
After several days of recuperation, Ann returns to her mother’s rooms to find she has died and there is indeed a puzzle to work out, but only the maid can help.
At this point, the story becomes gripping and urgent, bubbling with mystery and questions. While we realise that Ann’s life has been projected from feelings of unworthiness from her mother, there are more shocking revelations in a letter and trinket box passed on to Ann.
The authenticity in the settings, language, behaviour and politics of the time make a marvellous backdrop to a language rich story.
|Publisher||Bitter Lemon Press|
|Distributor||New South Books|