Suzannah's Reviews > Hide Me Among the Graves

Hide Me Among the Graves by Tim Powers
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bookshelves: fantasy, historical-fiction

Christina Rossetti is one of my favourite poets, so when I heard that Tim Powers had written a new novel featuring the gifted Rossetti siblings, I was keen to read it.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this novel focuses primarily on Christina herself, who Powers treats with a great deal of sympathy. Powers's Christina is devout, sensitive, principled, and generally a believable Victorian gentlewoman. (His Maria Rossetti - Christina's equally devout sister - is just as awesome. She had a wonderful moment that reminded me of Christina's poem "In Progress").

I'm not so sure about the whole vampire plot, though. I appreciate how Powers uses his vampires to explore themes of sin and repentance; if you are going to write about vampires at all, write them like this: Christina Rossetti goes her whole life resisting the temptation to look back. There is a wonderful line where it is said that "She will not want to call (the vampire) back because she has always wanted to call him back".

On the other hand, I didn't particularly appreciate Powers's use of the vampire as artistic muse. In this fictional universe, the only truly great artists are the ones enslaved to fiends. What's with that? As a Catholic, Powers should know that Christians have looked to the Holy Spirit for inspiration. But perhaps Powers is limited here by his genre - horror is ambivalent by nature. In any case, this led to another somewhat debatable implication - in this book, Christina Rossetti's greatest poetry was Goblin Market and Other Poems, and the rest of her stuff - especially the large body of devotional poetry - is more or less written off as uninspired, which makes Powers's respect for his heroine's Christianity a little backhanded.

I don't often read Powers on account of the ickiness of most of his books, but this one was a bit less heavy than some of his other books. I would have liked to see more of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the rest of the PRB, to say nothing of the other Stunners besides Lizzie Siddal. Otherwise, I quite enjoyed this book. Christina Rossetti doesn't get nearly enough love, and this was in many ways a lovely tribute to her.
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Reading Progress

April 2, 2015 – Shelved
April 2, 2015 – Shelved as: fantasy
April 2, 2015 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
Started Reading
April 3, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Christina (new)

Christina Baehr When was the book written? Academic preferencing of her 'secular' poems has been the standard line until very recently. Amazingly, that is finally changing.


Suzannah It was quite recent- - just 2/3 years old, I believe. What confused me was how Powers could pay tribute to her piety but not her religious work.


message 3: by Christina (new)

Christina Baehr Yes, it doesn't make sense, but when you read academics saying over and over 'these poems/books don't matter' it can be hard to realise they are just wrong. 'Rossettis in Wonderland' is a happy corrective.


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