Marsha's Reviews > Vendetta or the Story of One Forgotten

Vendetta or the Story of One Forgotten by Marie Corelli
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's review
Jun 26, 2012

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bookshelves: literature-fiction, mystery-thriller, romance
Read from June 24 to 25, 2012

Marie Corelli draws the reader into her novel from the very first line “I, who write this, am a dead man”. Once you are hooked, the novel rarely loosens its grip. In the overblown style of the florid 19th-century novel, yet dealing with a situation as old as mankind—an unfaithful wife, the naïve husband and her treacherous lover—we are presented with a ripping, old-fashioned tale of steamy romance, betrayal, hot-blooded passion and coldly served-up revenge.

Grandiose in tone and sweeping in its melodramatic style, I found myself shivering at the depths of Fabio Romani’s hatred while on tenterhooks to see what form his vengeance would take. However, there is a kind of awkwardness in Fabio’s character, given the protagonist’s initial indifference toward the fairer sex and then his absolute scorn towards them (couldn’t the author have achieved a happy middle ground?). Also, certain ideas that register as politically incorrect to modern sensibilities litter this novel: male chauvinism, class snobbery, territorial pride, Anglophobia, disdain for the law all hold sway. In particular, misogyny is rampant in this novel, so much so that it’s hard to believe that it was written by a woman.

These flaws can be dismissed since they are a reflection of the tenor of the times. The real problem with this story is that it lacks any discernible sense of humor, even when minor characters float in and out and occasionally leaven the story with a certain lightness. These minor characters provide help for Fabio Romani but they’re not enough to lighten the deadly soul-tearing, teeth gnashing that permeates the novel.

All these aside, Marie Corelli managed to capture the spirit of an age, the beauty, sordidness, fascination and multi-faceted aspects of Italian society while giving readers a story reminiscent of Alexandre Dumas père and Edgar Allan Poe while brooding on the ultimately crippling nature of revenge.

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Reading Progress

06/24/2012 page 69
17.0% "My road to revenge was a straight and perfectly smooth line. I asked myself quietly and in cold blood—was there any reason why I should have pity on them? No! Even the guilty passion they cherished for one another had no real earnestness in it; for she had hinted at the possibility of tiring of her lover, and he had declared to me that it was absurd to suppose a man could be true to one woman all his life."
06/25/2012 page 160
39.0% ""No one ever made such pretty speeches to me as you do!"
"Not even Guido Ferrari?" I suggested.
She drew herself up with an inimitably well-acted gesture of lofty disdain. "Guido Ferrari dared not address me save with the greatest respect! I was as a queen to him! It was only lately that he began to presume on the trust left him by my husband--a mistake on his part, for which you punished him--as he deserved!""
06/26/2012 page 192
47.0% "I cannot understand why that pallid ray that visits me so often, should be a livid, cold, watery green; and in it I see a little white hand on which the jewels cluster thick like drops of dew! The hand moves--it lifts itself--the small fingers point at me threateningly--they beckon me slowly, solemnly, commanding onward! to some infinite land of awful mysteries where Light and Love shall dawn for me no more."

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