Goodreads Summary: The Bluebeard fairy tale retold. . . .Goodreads / The Book Depository
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.
Genre: Historical fiction, retellings
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
How I Got It: Library
First Line: "You see, I had a fabulously wealthy godfather."
Favorite Quote: "Lucky Beauty! Her beast had been a man in beast's trappings. Scarier by far was a beast in the trappings of a man."
Ever since I first saw the cover and read the blurb for this, I was very excited to read it. The only reason I was somewhat familiar with the Bluebeard fairy tale was because I read Kill Me Softly last year. It also has a Bluebeard theme, and I wondered how the original tale went upon finishing the book, so I looked it up and skimmed an article about it on Wikipedia. The story is dark, grim and creepy...but I really liked it. So seeing a re-telling for it pop up only about a year after finding it made me super happy.
I really can't decide if it's better for the reader of Strands Of Bronze and Gold to be familiar with the Bluebeard story or not; maybe I would have enjoyed it even more had I no inkling of what was going to happen, but on the other hand, maybe not because I really enjoy seeing how re-tellings play out in comparison to the original tales. And this book is no exception.
I've seen a lot of mixed reviews for this novel so far, and it seems like most of the negativity surrounding it is the pacing. I can definitely understand that; sometimes it feels like there is next to nothing happening. I won't lie and say I didn't get bored once in a while. But I kept reading because the overall mood of the book carried this creepy vibe that made me want to continue. Like maybe something was just around the corner, ready to jump out at me. Jane Nickerson has a real talent at writing in general; the setting was described beautifully.
I started off thinking that I wouldn't like the main character, Sophie. She comes off as very naive and selfish in the beginning, but I started to like her over time. She started caring about other people, and I felt really bad for her when she got lonely. Granted, she still ignored a lot of warning signs of danger, but I guess I can understand why she wanted to suppress them and pretend everything was okay.
And, of course, there's Bernard de Cressac, who seems fairly kind and generous from the start. If I didn't know the story of Bluebeard, I would have genuinely liked him. But, I probably would have started hating him somewhere along the way, especially when he whips one of his slaves (I usually have a hard time reading about the south in this time period anyway for that reason). He was really a very well written antagonist, who was honestly creepy. The other characters in Strands of Bronze and Gold could easily be forgotten, but I will remember Bernard and Sophia. I wish that the love interest, in particular, Gideon Stone, had a bigger part in the plot and had helped Sophia in some way; I never really grew attached to him. I also didn't really care for the paranormal aspect to the story - I guess I just didn't think it was necessary.
Overall, I very much enjoyed this novel, but I would only recommend it to people with patience for a slow-moving plot.
Books in this series:
1. Strands of Bronze and Gold
2. The Mirk and Midnight Hour
3. A Place Of Stone and Shadow