Sheesh, what is wrong with me? This is the second book in the past week I haven’t been able to finish. And honestly, not finishing books is pretty rare with me. I swear! If I make it past the first few pages, I tend to plow through to the end, because I want to know what happens, and because I am a completist. To give you a comparison, I read like four of Anne Rice’s vampire books, which I never liked in the first place, before realizing I’d rather gouge my eyes out than read any more of them. I don’t care if she is from Louisiana! And I don’t care if Faulkner is either! I like Tony Kushner and THAT IS ENOUGH FOR ME.
Anyway, I just really want to tell The Stress of Her Regard that it’s probably not you; it’s probably me. I really think it might just be me. I may not have given you a fair chance. I was comparing you with Lonely Werewolf Girl, which I was reading at the same time I was reading you, and no new book could stand up against Lonely Werewolf Girl. I was reading you and thinking of another book. It was unfair to you. You deserved better.
I read about The Stress of Her Regard on Nymeth’s blog, and I thought there could be no problem with it whatsoever at all. It had Romantic poets, aaaaaaand vampires! All the Romantic poets are being pestered by pestery vampires! I don’t care enough about the Romantic poets to get cranky about their being portrayed “wrong”, which is something that would bother me if the characters were, like, Oscar Wilde and his lot. And vampires! And Nymeth said the mythology was a trifle complex, but I was all, Whatever, I will be able to follow it. But damn, seriously, it was mighty complex. And I was reading it like ten pages at a time, while brushing my teeth, and then a chapter or two before I went to sleep. And sometimes I would skip a few nights and read Lonely Werewolf Girl instead. So I think that screwed me up in terms of keeping track of who was doing what, and why.
All this to say that by the time I got to the bit where Shelley disguised his dead infant as a marionette, I was kinda ready to quit reading it anyway. The bit where he disguised his dead infant as a marionette was mighty disturbing and creepy, and it gave me a nightmare. So even though I think I was unfair to this book, I will probably not try reading it again because it will remind me of my terrifying puppet nightmare.
(I really did like the part where Crawford put his ring on the statue’s finger and then when he came back for it the statue’s hand had closed over the ring. That was cool.)
I will just leave you with this thought, which is the only thing I can ever think of when I read about Byron or Shelley or Keats and consequently prevents me from taking them one bit seriously, ever:
Byron and Shelley and Keats
Were a trio of lyrical treats
The forehead of Shelley was cluttered with curls,
And Keats never was a descendant of earls,
And Byron walked out with a number of girls,
But it didn’t impair the poetical feats
Of Byron and Shelley,
Of Byron and Shelley,
Of Byron and Shelley and Keats.
Dear darling Dorothy Parker. (Though Black Adder‘s portrayal of the Romantic poets has just put the nail in the coffin. I can never, ever, ever, ever take those men seriously. Ever. Never ever never. But I often like Coleridge.)
Sorry it didn’t work for you! You’re right, what could possibly live up to Lonely Werewolf Girl? And yes, that marionette/corpse bit WAS incredibly disturbing. And so sad.
Even though I like reading about the Romantic poets, I can’t take them seriously either. Well, Byron I can, some of the time, but the others, not really. Especially Shelley. Still, somehow I just love reading about their lives. That whole time period is just so interesting for me.
I’m exactly the same way about the late Victorians. In fact, I really, really feel like reading some fiction about late Victorian London. (I always do.)
I read this many years ago, and it was so bad that I still remember the title and the cover all these years later. This was one of the few books I had no problem donating to the library sale!
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