Tuesday, January 15, 2008

karleen koen/THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY

i picked up this book on a lark while searching for a book by dean koontz to read. (any recs on koontz, please leave in comments section. =) what drew me were mainly two things : 1. it was a ny times bestseller. 2. it is a historical fiction based in england and france. i have a soft spot for historicals set in england--which explains why cox's the meaning of night was my top read of 2007.

the book starts with fifteen year old barbara. she is taken care of by her grandmother in the english countryside. when her mother, who is known for her loose ways and heavy spending, visits, it's never good news. this time, she tells barbara she is to marry roger devane--a handsome and rich bachelor more than twice her age.

roger shares a long history with barbara's grandfather, the duke, a war hero. and the duchess (her grandmother) was always fond of roger, tho something about the match stirs a faint sense of worry within her. what is she forgetting about roger's past? or the gossip that may have surrounded him? everyone knows he is incapable of committing to one woman, and wanders from bed to bed among the powerful and rich women in society.

barbara, however, is delighted by this match. she believes she has loved roger ever since she was a little girl, when the dashing man would visit their country home and be kind to her with a word or present from london. barbara does have her way in the end, despite family sabotage. she marries roger, and that is where everything begins to unravel. she must navigate her way through the french court while trying to ingratiate herself into roger's life.

koen does a fine job of developing her characters from our young heroine to her grandmother the matriarch, to her selfish mother and roger, the love of barbara's life who carries too many secrets of his own. the tension within the story, the marriage between barbara and roger, innocence juxtaposed with his past, is so well done. and no one is all good or all bad. every charcter has a heroic moment as well as her/his foible.

i believe the book is very well written and has an epic feel. this is a debut novel by koen and she has followed with a prequel and sequel to the book. she is a strong prose writer, tho i admit to skipping many sections where she goes into furnishings in detail. =X she definitely knows how to bring to life the period of 18th century france and england. better still, she brings her characters to life. i recommend this book, especially to those who enjoy historical novels.

4 comments:

Alan said...

You sold me; looks like an interesting read. Thanks
I have read a few Dean Koontz'. I liked "Twilight Eyes" and "Odd Thomas" but my favorites are His Frankenstein series; "Prodigal Son" and "City of The Night". I read that he is presently working on the third in the trilogy.
regards,
a

cyn said...

really alan? wow! do you enjoy hisotrical novels? this one does have very strong romantic elements. i never read romance usually, but heck, i was drawn in. is the frankenstein series based on the original frankenstein? i'm def interested in picking up a koontz book again, but not blindly.

Alan said...

I found a write up that I did on Frankenstin, Book One and posted it to my blog if you are interested. I also did one on Book Two; it is hidden some place.

I really like historical novels and I am a "squishy romantic"

a

cyn said...

alan, you are the man.
i would never admit anywhere
how squishy i truly am!

am checking out your review. =)