BOOK & BLOG
January 15, 2007
Book of the Week: Laura Kinsale's Shadowheart
Laura Kinsale is one of the most interesting writers I read. Shes always classified as a romance writer. But her books are always about ten feet deeper than the average romance. Her characters have layers upon layers. The conflicts between the hero and heroine are very, very serious. And her heroes are ALWAYS severely flawed . . . and her heroines, too. In fact, theyre not heroes and heroines. Theyre complex people coping with terrible circumstances.
Laura Kinsale writes Extreme Romance.
Im not talking explicit sex, here. Kinsale doesnt write long sex scenes, but theyre very intense. Theyre only plainspoken enough to let you know exactly whats happening.
The titles of Kinsales books, however, are strictly romance. This past week I read SHADOWHEART, and as usual I was bowled over by Kinsales writing and her skill in bringing to life a time long past. In a short piece she wrote in acknowledgement, Kinsale refers to difficulty finishing the book; she seems to have suffered from writers block. Maybe that explains why she doesnt have more books on the shelf. Im always hoping to find one I havent read yet.
SHADOWHEART is the story of Elayne, who has been raised in England. She retains shadowy memories of her past that hint that she was not always English, that a man brought her to her godmother and left her there, with her sister who is wed to an Englishman. When Elayne becomes interested in marrying a visiting knight, she finds she cant because shes a princess. In fact, shes sent back to Italy to marry the rival prince whos taken over her birthright. Along the way, shes kidnapped by yet another rival prince, who turns out to be the man who brought her to England in the first place. Of course, this sounds as unlikely as any other novel boiled down to the bones. What can I say? Kinsale makes you believe it.
SHADOWHEART has some conflicted sexuality in it; for those who are more inclined to regular vanilla, you might want to try Kinsales PRINCE OF MIDNIGHT first.
This weekend its rained. And then drizzled. And misted. Then, for a change of pace, it rained some more. Our duck is in duck heaven, with a far larger pond to rule than he usually can claim. Is there anything more soothing than going to sleep with the sound of rain on the roof?
At least so far weve been spared the ice thats made life so perilous for our neighbors to the west and north. Im writing about ice right now, as I work on AN ICE COLD GRAVE . . . which has to be on my editors desk really, really soon. So Ive been thinking cold. Ive been thinking icy. Ive been thinking about perverted sexuality, the more common sexuality, and the bereavement of families whove lost a loved one to crime.
In the midst of all this thinking, when I heard on the news about the two boys in Missouri who have been returned to their families, I could only be glad for the parents of those boys; yet their future is full of trouble. The most recently snatched boy should be all right. But the young man held for four years?
Its too bad that in real life happy endings are not always simple, and dont always end in the big denouement of the movies. In real life, the consequences of crime spill over into the remaining years of the victims existence. Thats one of the things Im exploring in the new book, and Im thinking Im not giving it enough page time, now.
Why cant happy endings be simply happy? What happened to happily-ever-after? Maybe its my middle age. The young believe in happily ever after, and maybe when Im old, I will again. I do believe, more firmly than ever, in enjoying the moment. At this moment, those boys are safe with their families. At this moment, the evil man who took them is in jail. At this moment, the boys parents are thanking God for their safe return.
And sitting in my office on this dreary Sunday morning, dressed in church clothes; at this moment I have above-freezing temperatures and lots of electricity! Thank God.
© 2009 Charlaine Harris