29 November 2016

Review #564: A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Wild roses are fairest, and nature a better gardener than art.”

----Louisa May Alcott

First let's just wish this talented and brilliant author, Louisa May Alcott, a very, very Happy 184th Birthday and we will only hope that her stories be loved, read and adored by all ages of readers from around the world. And on this special occasion, I'd like to pen a review piece about one of her not so popular book, A Long Fatal Love Chase which is targeted for mature audience and was written before her literary success for the books like Little Women, Little Men, Eight Cousins etc.. Although this particular book has not been widely read or loved by the readers, but I would like to notify such readers to not to judge the book harshly as this when she wrote this book, this young writer was on the road to financially support her family and did not even begin her writing career professionally at that time.


Rosamond Vivian, brought up on a remote island by an indifferent grandfather, swears she'd sell her soul to Satan for a year of freedom. When Philip Tempest enters her life, she is ripe for the plucking, but is soon caught up in a web of intrigue, cruelty and deceit stretching back far into the past. Remarkable for its portrayal of a sensual, spirited Victorian heroine, Louisa May Alcott's work, too shocking to be published during her lifetime, tells a compulsive tale of love, desire and deceit. Its publication more than a century after being written marks a new page in literary history.

Rosamond Vivian is a charming, innocent and love-sick eighteen year old teenage orphan living with her cynical and mediocre grandfather in a small and remote island off the coast of England. Soon a handsome stranger sweeps her away with his promise of love and marital vows. Enter, Phillip Tempest, an old, mature and impossibly good-looking stranger with a yacht has arrived on the very same island where Rosamond lives with her grandfather. Within an instant, young Rosamond falls for the old, delectable man who speaks of a glittering future with hope, love and extravagance. Within a few days, Philip and Rosamond gets married and sets sail across the ocean. And after their journey, they settle up in a countryside town in Nice, along with a man-servant named, Baptiste and a child servant, Ippolito. Little did beautiful, naive and newly married Rosamond that her marital life is set up on lies and deceit that finally forces the young woman to escape the wretched life and that is when the great chase begins across the whole Europe from Italy to France to Germany, until death soars up across the feet of Rosamond.

This great book is perfect for those readers who love to read about Gothic love stories as well as highly thrilling romantic tales and that too with a touch of violence, darkness and fear. The author here explores the darkness of a human nature as well as relationships that are tied with marital vows. The book is interesting enough as each chapter ends with a cliffhanger that begs its readers to keep turning the pages of this book till the very end. The story is both beautiful and dark at the same time and only an author like Alcott could possibly achieve that with equal intensity. Hence the more the book allures, the more it will terrify.

The writing of this amazing author is so brilliant and striking that the readers are bound to feel the underlying mood of the story line. The narrative is equally engaging although it rarely falters from its own flow and misdirects towards boredom. The readers, no matter what, will be able to find the dialogues comprehensible enough to make them feel for the characters' ongoing plight. The pacing is really swift as there are chase scenes penned with extreme thrill and suspense that will soar the temperature of the readers while reading about the young woman's journey from one country to another.

The mystery concocted by the author is tightly wrapped under layers of twists that will only increase tension and anticipation of the readers. Reading this story will make the readers feel like riding high on a roller coaster ride that is filled with adrenaline rushing scenes, exciting and equally terrifying moments and lots of baffling challenges. The story will grip the readers right from the very beginning with its intensity of sweetness but then scares the hell out of the readers' mind when the chase begins.

The characters are very poorly crafted hence the readers will struggle to see beyond the characters and into their deepest core and that's the only disappointment I've while reading this book. In a nutshell, this is a riveting love story that is horrifying and equally compassionate enough to make the readers feel the bridge between the two.

Verdict: A classic read that will never lose its charm, no matter how many times a reader reads it!

Author Info:
Louisa May Alcott was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania on November 29, 1832. She and her three sisters, Anna, Elizabeth and May were educated by their father, philosopher/ teacher, Bronson Alcott and raised on the practical Christianity of their mother, Abigail May.
Louisa spent her childhood in Boston and in Concord, Massachusetts, where her days were enlightened by visits to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s library, excursions into nature with Henry David Thoreau and theatricals in the barn at Hillside (now Hawthorne’s "Wayside").
Like her character, Jo March in Little Women, young Louisa was a tomboy: "No boy could be my friend till I had beaten him in a race," she claimed, " and no girl if she refused to climb trees, leap fences...."
For Louisa, writing was an early passion. She had a rich imagination and often her stories became melodramas that she and her sisters would act out for friends. Louisa preferred to play the "lurid" parts in these plays, "the villains, ghosts, bandits, and disdainful queens."
At age 15, troubled by the poverty that plagued her family, she vowed: "I will do something by and by. Don’t care what, teach, sew, act, write, anything to help the family; and I’ll be rich and famous and happy before I die, see if I won’t!"
Confronting a society that offered little opportunity to women seeking employment, Louisa determined "...I will make a battering-ram of my head and make my way through this rough and tumble world." Whether as a teacher, seamstress, governess, or household servant, for many years Louisa did any work she could find.
Louisa’s career as an author began with poetry and short stories that appeared in popular magazines. In 1854, when she was 22, her first book Flower Fables was published. A milestone along her literary path was Hospital Sketches (1863) based on the letters she had written home from her post as a nurse in Washington, DC as a nurse during the Civil War.
When Louisa was 35 years old, her publisher Thomas Niles in Boston asked her to write "a book for girls." Little Women was written at Orchard House from May to July 1868. The novel is based on Louisa and her sisters’ coming of age and is set in Civil War New England. Jo March was the first American juvenile heroine to act from her own individuality; a living, breathing person rather than the idealized stereotype then prevalent in children’s fiction.
In all, Louisa published over 30 books and collections of stories. She died on March 6, 1888, only two days after her father, and is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord.
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