Author: Jane Nickerson
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication Date: March 12, 2013
Source: Netgalley eARC 352 pages
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The Bluebeard fairy tale retold. . . .
When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi.
Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world.
Glowing strands of romance, mystery, and suspense are woven into this breathtaking debut—a thrilling retelling of the “Bluebeard” fairy tale.
The saying “It’s not you, it’s me,” could not have been more true than when I read and finished Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson.
Sophie was a young, sweet, innocent girl full of curiosity. She loved being at the house and exploring all around it. Sophie was kind, very good hearted, and brought up well despite the death of her father and also being motherless growing up. Although naive at times, Sophie was defiant when need be and when she felt she was being stifled. I loved that she was talkative and enjoyed telling stories and pleasing others. She was the type of person who didn’t like to be confined, but wanted to know, learn, and do new things. Sophie was fierce when she wanted to be and had fire and spunk when she knew she was right. Her curious nature was adorable, but was bound to get her into more than a little trouble. While I did like Sophie very much, I was unable to connect with her.
Sophie’s godfather, Bernard de Cressac, was a peculiar character. To be quite honest, I think I was actually fond of him, which sort of makes me a little queasy. I think I grew to like Bernard because of his charm and charisma and the way he wanted to please Sophie so much. There was an underlying mystery about him, where I never really got to know him at all, making me only want to know him more. I don’t know whether I like him because I felt some kind of sympathy for him and his downfall or maybe because he exuded this dangerous and secretive personality that I was drawn to from the start. Maybe it’s because he was always a surprise, always in different moods throughout the story. You never really know what side of Bernard you were going to get, and even Sophie describes him as such. He was really possessive, successful and maybe even crazy, but he was the most fascinating character in this story, if not the most interesting.
I really wanted to fall in love with this book because the writing was very rich, languid, delicate, and simply stunning. The imagery and description of the setting was breath-taking and very expressive. I really got the sense of time in which this novel was set, especially with the descriptions of the house, to the workings of the servants, to the clothes that the characters wore, to the food eaten and the language spoken. I even loved that the pacing was pretty slow, but picks up near the end because it gave a sense of foreboding throughout the whole book. The problem I had was simple and sad; I was bored. No matter how much detail was put into this book and no matter how much I did seem to like and enjoy it, I was not compelled to finish it. In between reading this book and putting it down, I didn’t feel the pull to pick it up. It took me over three weeks to finally reach the last page and instead of wanting more, I was so relieved I finally finished. I also think that knowing this was a Bluebeard retelling made me expect Bernard’s demise and thus, took away any suspense, excitement, or creepy factor I was hoping for.
Overall, Strands of Bronze and Gold was beautifully written and a respectable retelling of a very well known fairytale. Fans of historical fiction and of retellings with surely enjoy such a fantastic piece of literature despite my thoughts.
*Thanks to Random House for sending a copy for review