This book is one of my favorite historical romance stories of all time. It has jostled from my number one, above all others, on only a few occassions...moreThis book is one of my favorite historical romance stories of all time. It has jostled from my number one, above all others, on only a few occassions since I first read it in the 1980’s. I love both the hero and heroine. Roger is not the typical rake needing reforming, he is a man who – after an emotionally abusive relationship with his first wife – doesn’t realize what a wonderful hero he is. He is not all that dark and brooding (though I love those type too), he is just you’re average handsome, intelligent, honorable English gentleman trying to help a lady get out of a jam. (Well, he does get angry a couple of times, but these result in passion.) Best of all, Leonie is a heroine that can hold her own alongside him.
What makes this story stand out is the setting and circumstance. The hero and heroine are trapped in a war torn country (French Revolution) with no way to marry, yet living as a married couple (with a sexual relationship - he’s not that insanely, unrealistically honorable!). I like the way Gellis lets the reader into the characters’ thoughts. Sometimes these thoughts are the correct assumputions about another person's feelings, sometimes they are not. What Gellis does is let these mistaken assumptions, at times, squash - not lead to - a potentional conflict before it starts, bringing a smile to this reader's lips. Instead, Gellis relies on the situation to add conflict to their relationship not any contrived misunderstanding that could be cleared up with a little discussion. After all the angst, the ending is the laugh out loud funny, sweet, and totally in character for both the H&h.
(view spoiler)[For the longest time this was the only book in which I ever approved of a rape scene (I prefer my heroine’s pure, and I hate rape scenes). The act itself, for anyone who has read anything about rape, is one of power and hate - in this case during war time - not lust. This fact is reinforced by Marot looking at Leonie’s father, helpless to intervene, while he (the villain) defiles Leonie. For Leonie, this act creates not a tragic victim, but a stronger person who truly rises above it to become a survivor; at the same time, when confronted with the villain again, she can summon her own emotions in a controlled manner to seek vengeance against the man who symbolized the destruction of her world. It’s believable. (hide spoiler)]
One complaint: What happened to the little dog that is such an indispensible part of the story? I know she got on the boat, but then what?
★★★★½ Good Gravy Beans! I remember being spellbound by The Roselynde Chronicles when they first came out in the late seventies. With a co...more[image error]
★★★★½ Good Gravy Beans! I remember being spellbound by The Roselynde Chronicles when they first came out in the late seventies. With a couple of Doctoral & Masters Degrees under her belt – in something or other historical – Ms. Gellis writes what she knows. This, the forth book in this captivating series, was one of my favorites. When it popped up cheap on www.allromance.com a few months ago, I pounced on it.
I must admit to being relieved that this one still holds up. I love Gilliane and Adam’s love story. And they do fall for one another fast – almost at first site. (Or would that be sound, in Gilliane’s case? LOL!) But, alas, they are young. **sigh** After all, there was a war going on.
Ms. Gellis has a way of writing about what is going on each character’s mind, reviewing their reasons for their misconceptions. Conversely, she then spins it a bit in that not all of these misjudgments lead to The Big Misunderstanding. Sometimes she has the person be pleased with their erroneous conclusions. It is humorous at times, because with a readers’ insight, I can laugh, shake my head, and smile at the outcome.
P.S. Thanks for the castle pic, Pamela (All Honey)!
I loved the Roselynde Chronicles and this was a favorite of mine in the series. Joanna was so frightened and managed to be brave and fell in love with...moreI loved the Roselynde Chronicles and this was a favorite of mine in the series. Joanna was so frightened and managed to be brave and fell in love with Groffery at first sight (sound - LOL). (less)
My mother wouldn't let me read "Gone With the Wind" until I was 16. A few years ago I was at a cocktail party and they asked the trivia question "What...moreMy mother wouldn't let me read "Gone With the Wind" until I was 16. A few years ago I was at a cocktail party and they asked the trivia question "What was the first line of GWtW?" I knew the answer. My husband asked, "How did you know that?" (He'd lived with me how many decades?) I told him about my mom's restriction and how, when I finally opened the book, I was stunned by the first sentence. I had seen the movie and Scarlett was beautiful, if a bitch. I also remember it because everyone always talked about how hard it was to cast the role for the movie and how beautiful I thought Vivian Leigh was. In the book Scarlett is not so much a "supreme bitch of the universe" as a survivor and she drags her family along (kicking and screaming) with her. She is presented slightly different and more complex in the book. The whole incident with Scarlett stealing her sister's beau? In the book you just knew that her sister would only use Hamilton’s money for herself where Scarlett wanted it to save Tara because Tara means 'dirt/land/earth' in Ireland. If you had land, you were rich and self-sufficient. I wouldn't have minded being on a deserted island with her if I was part of her family...Or even in the middle of a civil war. LOL. (In the movie they also left out a couple of marriages and kids which gave her more depth.)
We all know this war torn families apart. Years ago I had a cousin who traced our family tree. I had a great-great-great-grandfather who lived in the South and went to fight for the North. I also had another who lived in the North and went to fight for the South. No wonder I always want to play ‘devil’s advocate.’ It’s in my DNA.
I could go off on a whole tangent about the characters in GWTW and what each of them represented with regard to the South. If Scarlett represented a segment of the South the way it was when the Civil War started, it was as a progressive segment that knew where it was headed: strong, determined, attractive, young, rich, bored (complacent), spoiled, unable to love those who truly understood her and loved her anyway (i.e. the North not wanting the South to leave, the South not loving the Union), doing anything to get her way or survive (even enslave a people or take advantage of chained-gang prison-workers)…ever so slowly changing, showing bravery, but learning too late how to change in time…Well then, the first sentence takes on a whole new meaning. (view spoiler)[”Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.” (hide spoiler)] Slavery is not beautiful, it’s ugly.
But the wealth it provided? Well, as I learned in my economics class in college, if the war had been fought five years later the South would have won. It was that wealthy. It was also this book that told me that the North was not blameless in the whole thing as many of the slave sellers/capturers and slave ship owners were from the North. They never told me THAT in high school. And Scarlett? Like our forfathers chose to do while writing the constitution, she was going to think about all of it (slavery) tomorrow. Scarlett is, in this story, the eyes of the progressive South at that time and she fails to see the world around her in time. Maybe because she’s too busy batting her lashes to get her way. And yet we feel for her when she pulls that carrot out of the ground, eats it and throws up. We grieve so for her heartbreak at the end of the book. How did Mitchell pull that off? We are right there with her when she’s lost in the fog and can’t see before she goes home to Tara.
Rhett is the New South, charming, lustful, innovative, an investor. Cynicism (a trait he shares with Scarlett) hides his compassion (a trait he shares with Melanie), and he won’t fight or take a side in the war until he must. But Mitchell makes him and all her characters extremely complex, for she gives him a sense of honor for honor’s sake. (Is he then a gentleman like Ashley?) Rhett’s almost downfall? His deep and abiding love for Scarlett (he - like Melanie - sees her for who and what she is, the good as well as the bad); nevertheless, he eventually leaves her ideology behind in disgust. He has the work-ethic and is the muscle, but only flexes it when his devastating charm won’t work. In the end he walks out.
Ashley and Melanie? Two different, complex aspects of the Old South - one lost without the other - and their antiquated way of life. Remember, Ashley doesn’t love Scarlett and he detests slavery. But he didn’t know how to survive without it. He’s painted himself into a corner. Ashley wants to marry Melanie because he believes he has more in common with her than Scarlett. He’s wrong. He’s the intellect of the Old South, struggling to hang on to his gentlemanly behavior and failing totally. As Annalisa says in her Goodreads review: “(Scarlett) sees Ashley not as the strong, honorable character she had always esteemed but the weakest and least honorable character in the book. Anyone who would tease another woman with confessions of love just so he could keep her heart and devotion at arm's length is not truly honoring his marriage vows.” There’s a reason he is in a prison during the war. He doesn’t want to/can’t change some aspects of his life/nature, and in the end can’t conceive of a life without his heart, for that is where courage lives. For all our deep philosophical ideals do not reside in the brain but in our heart.
The heart? That would be Melanie, a gentle southern belle, a ‘great lady’ and one of the few true ‘purely good’ people in Mitchell’s epic. She was sickly due to so many generations of inbreeding within an educated, affluent family. She is the heart and courage of the Old South, not its eyes. She refuses to believe the ‘ugliness’ of Scarlett when she witnesses her in Ashley’s arms (and for once Scarlett is innocent). Melanie is the only one who sees Rhett cry and soon after she dies.
Mammy? She has it all and sees all. The all-knowing mother with eyes in the back of her head. The work-ethic. The conscience. An inner strength, and a loving, forgiving nature.
I told you I was sixteen when I read this. In my naiveté I asked my mother if Rhett and Scarlett got back together and she told me, “It’s like a beautiful tea cup. Once it’s broken, you can glue it back together, but it is never as beautiful to the eyes as it once was.” Scarlett really represents a “might have been.” What might have been if slavery had been abolished in 1776? Or even anytime before 1862? Was she truly blind, wearing rose-tinted glasses, or did she let pride and hubris get in her way?
You do remember your history lessons? Don’t expect a happy ending. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
One day in 2027 Shanna will officially become a true “classic” in lieu of just a “bodice-ripper” or “historical-romance”. Until then, I will just have...moreOne day in 2027 Shanna will officially become a true “classic” in lieu of just a “bodice-ripper” or “historical-romance”. Until then, I will just have to refrain from tagging it as such for my personal GoodReads bookshelf. But, just so you know, it is one. A classic.
It is also the only historical romance book my husband ever listened to, against his will and with strong protestations, as read by me. We were going snow skiing, back in the days when we couldn’t afford to fly, and it was a 14 hour road trip; one in which, with his manically determination, he would only stop once and only for gas. I used one hand to pack the cooler, while I kept the other hand holding the book, eyes glued on the pages of Shanna and Ruark’s incredible story. As I made it out to the car that night, I was already gripped by KEW’s tale (and half in love with Ruark) and dying to know what happened next. When it occurred to me: there I was, with a captive audience! I had to go back to the beginning so my husband would not be lost, but I didn’t mind.
Midnight, November 18, 1749 London Night gripped the city with cold, misty darkness. The threat of winter was heavy in the air. Acrid smoke stung the nostrils and throat, for in every home fires were stirred and stoked against the seaborne chill that pierced to the bone. Low-hanging clouds dribbled fine droplets of moisture which mixed with the soot spewed forth from London’s towering chimneys before falling as a thin film that covered every surface.
The miserable night masked the passage of a carriage that careened through the narrow streets as it it fled from some terrible disaster…
From that moment on, I was in that carriage, surrounded by that dark night, jolting over those cobblestones. And so was my husband. For this is not only a romance book, but a high-adventure story. My spouse has been always a sucker for swashbucklers like Sea Hawk and Captain Blood and this had all those elements: prison, the threat of the gallows, escape to an exotic island, an ingenious and dashing hero, amazing secondary characters, rat-infested dank holes, sailing ships and pirates. And with the additional scenes in the untamed backwoods of a fledging country and a nice little mystery sub-plot. Plus, Shanna is a bitch! For it is really the Taming of the Shrew - only with tons more sex - so there was a lot more he liked about it than I!
True, I stopped to ski, then went on to read while he continued his marathon hot-dogging down those snowy slopes of Sun Valley, Idaho. However, he didn’t piss and moan again when I picked it back up for the ride home, to continue on from where I’d left him in the story. And I didn’t mind re-reading that part again either. :-)