Lauren's Reviews > Through a Glass Darkly

Through a Glass Darkly by Karleen Koen
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May 25, 09

Read in May, 2009

Through a Glass Darkly is the story of Barbara Alderley. At the opening of the novel, she is a mischevious 15 year old girl, living at the home of her grandmother, the Duchess of Tamworth. Young Barbara has a penchant towards eavesdropping and so we are introduced to a scene of family discord between her mother, the selfish and hedonistic Diana, Lady Alderley and her younger brother, the irresponsible and handsome Harry. Barbara's mother is disgraced due to her father, Viscount Alderley, having fled England as a suspected Jacobite (supporter of the Stuarts, the descendents of James II who was overthrown by the Glorious revolution and who are barred from inheriting the English throne due to the Act of Succession, which bans Catholics from the succession). Viscount Alderley left his wife with a mountain of debt. In order to avoid ruin, the greedy and selfish Diana has planned a glorious marriage for Barbara. Fortunately for Barbara, the planned marriage was with the Earl of Devane, a man whom Barbara has adored (and loved) since childhood. The first part of the novel deals with the tumultuous marriage negotiations and family drama. This part of the novel is delightfully gossipy, as Diana is a real peice of work and the author's descriptions of her relatives is amusing. Eventually Barbara and Devane marry. However, as Barbara begins to see Devane for who he really is, a skelaton in his closet seems to ruin her chances for happiness. The novel deals with the fall out from Barbara's discovery of her husband's secret.

This is a 3.5 star read. At times, this book is a solid 4 stars, with a delightfully gossipy view of early 18th century England and France. At other times, Through a Glass Darkly drags, as Kathleen Koen has a tendency to be too wordy and drags the story out. Ms. Koen's style is to include long passages of internal dialogue reflecting the various character's thoughts. The novel is at its best during the marriage negotiations and when Barbara and her new husband are in France. The French nobels are a debauched bunch and it is entertaining to imagine the innocent Barabara in that environment! While Koen's writing style can be entertaining - bordering on the catty - it also can be repetitive, causing the story to drag, particularly in Part II of the novel.

Readers who enjoy novels like Forever Amber or Gone with the Wind would like it. However, unlike those novels, Through a Glass Darkly is substantially lighter on the history. I also liked both of those novels better. That is not to say that Through a Glass Darkly isn't entertaining. Compared to those classics however, this one is a lightweight.
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message 1: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Have you read the prequel Dark Angels? It's about Barbara's grandmother before she is married and becomes the Duchess. I hated the sequel to Through a Glass Darkly (Now Face to Face), but loved the prequel that came out years later. I think she rushed on the sequel and then took some time writing Dark Angels. It shows.


Lauren I haven't read it yet. I'm adding it to my "to read" list.


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