Saturday, April 28, 2007
Green Darkness - Anya Seton
After a steady diet of mysteries and romantic suspense novels I thought I needed something totally different.
I've had this book in my TBR pile for more than a year. I had picked it up because I loved Katherine and I wanted to read more books by Seton. Also this book has a theme that fascinates me - reincarnation, karma, good and evil... - even if I'm not sure if I believe it or not. Maybe it was my feelings toward it that kept me from picking it up for so long but now I'm really happy that I did.
The book starts in the sixties of the XX century. Celia Marsdon, a young american girl, married Richard a british gentleman and his fascinated by british history. They are having some problems as Richard's behaviour becomes strange. During a weekend house party Celia plans a visit to a nearby estate and feels strangely disturbed especially after hearing mention of a young woman being walled up alive 400 years previously. It's soon obvious that unknown forces are affecting both Celia and Richard who both display uncharacteristic behaviour who will lead them to a brutal scene that leaves Celia in a coma and Richard with a death wish.
A interested and active participant in all this is Dr Akananda, a hindu medical doctor, friend of Celia's mother, who believes in reincarnation and how past lifes may affect your present one. He starts an unconventional healing treatment trying to save Celia by making her relieve her past.
So a big part of this book, I should actually say the bigger part, is set in Tudor times during the reign of Henry VIII's children. As the drama unfolds we soon identify most of the present day characters in the historical ones.
I think one of Seton's strong points is how well she makes characters come to life both by good characterisation and vivid settings' descriptions. After we jump to the past I was totally immersed in the reading and didn't want to have to interrupt it when real life called. I have only one thing to mention regarding the story in the past, I think we had a lot of build up and then the actuall tragic event happened too quickly and with little detail, I also realise though that to deal with it differently would probably evoke too much anguish in the reader so maybe that was a good thing. After the action returns to the XX century Celia is already recovering and it's ultimately her who takes Richard through the final steps of the healing process.
Although we could consider this book an historical romance because there is a love story that takes centre stage, this is much more complex than just the love story. According to the Author's note in the beginning: The theme of this book is reincarnation, an attempt to show the interplay - the law of cause and effect, good and evil - for certain individual souls in two english periods.
Also fascinating to me is to know that most characters and places truly existed.
My book is a 1974 edition and I was unable to find the cover online. However the one shown here seems almost as old and that's why I chose it. An A read!