Sunday, June 08, 2008


The Book: Anya Seton, GREEN DARKNESS. Houghton Mifflin, 1972 (first edition). Missing dust jacket, book is in fair condition; spine is cocked and loose, binding is broken at p. 22. Resale price (80 cents) written in wax pencil on front flyleaf.
First read: 1977 (approximately)
Owned since: 1980 (best guess)

Yes, I'm alive. Sorry to be missing; I've just been overwhelmed with deadlines, and juggling way too many priorities. I've turned in three cleaned-up manuscripts this week, along with the usual newsletters and quick edit jobs; I had friends visit from out of town; and in case I haven't mentioned it, Gaslight Theater's summer musical, Bye Bye Birdie, opens in less than two weeks.

Oh, and I forgot that middle part, where I actually started the week in Los Angeles.

Sorry, am I sounding defensive? Chalk it up to extreme sleep deprivation, which will continue for at least another day or two -- and the arrival of summer's first heat wave. While the rest of the Eastern seaboard's been frying this week, Maine was unseasonably cool; not today. Our current temperature is 84, which feels hotter when Friday's thermometer didn't break 60. Dizzy will need to go swimming in an hour or two, and I'll be spending most of the afternoon in an air-conditioned auditorium.

Anyway, by the end of this week, things should be back to normal. I hope. I'm looking forward to taking a couple of days off to do some pleasure reading, which I've had no time for. I have three books in progress right now, but finished only one last week, so we'll hold off on the reading list until next Friday.

And now, GREEN DARKNESS. I said the other day, on someone else's blog, that I love a good Gothic, and this is a corker. American heiress (Gothics always need an heir or an heiress) Celia Taylor marries moody Englishman Richard Marsdon, heir to a crumbling Tudor-era manor. Their marital bliss becomes rocky once they return to his home, and things get even worse after Celia has some kind of fit during a visit to a nearby castle, Ightham Mote.

It turns out that Richard and Celia, in this life, are reliving the traumas of their previous incarnations: Brother Stephen Marsdon and his pupil, the beautiful peasant Celia Bohun, whose forbidden love brought violent death to both.

GREEN DARKNESS spends most of its 627 pages in Elizabethan England, telling the story of Stephen and Celia; Richard and Celia's framing device is much less interesting.

I often say that I don't believe in individual reincarnation, but I wish I did. It's easy for me to imagine past lives, and I've dreamt of living in earlier times -- but when it comes down to it, I just can't buy it. The idea that we get endless do-overs through an indefinite number of lives is just too easy an out; it's better for everyone if I assume this turn is my only chance to get it right.

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