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Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Horribly Good Read, 29 Nov. 2013
This review is from: Unfashioned Creatures (Paperback)
I'm a fan of Gothic novels, which gave me a head start with this one. Nevertheless, I was impressed by how Unfashioned Creatures manages to combine an elegant prose style from a writer who wears her learning and a vast amount of research lightly - (it always informs but never clouds the ficton) - with a genuinely page turning quality. I was quickly drawn in, and cared about Isabella. The fact that I was occasionally moved to rage by her relationships with the men in her life signifies only that she is an accurate evocation of a woman of her time. This makes for a powerful but disturbing read. Is Bella a reliable narrator or not? Is her account true, half true, or the imaginings of a deranged mind? But if Bella is disturbingly real, Alexander Balfour is an alarmingly credible creation too, a weak man with a fine conceit of his own genius, a damaged man who - because he has a modicum of power - has the capacity to damage others in turn and in dreadful ways. We see this, even while we recognize the tensions in him, his occasional flashes of morality, and our uneasy perception that no good can come of this. Can it? You'll have to read the novel to find out. There is madness, and a fascinating exploration of the treatment of madness at the time. There are ghosts, there is a vivid reality constantly blurred by the realization that things may not quite be as they seem - and finally, there is a painful evocation of the frustrations of intelligent and creative women at that time, a situation of which we can still see and feel the remnants, even today. All in all, this is a horribly good read!
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