Mining the Depths

I'll read almost anything and love what captures my imagination. Best of all is responding to books in the larger cultural sense, loving or loathsome. Literature should have a place in the wider world.

 

And I'm another GoodReads refugee. 

SEPULCHRE

Sepulchre - Kate Mosse Thank goodness it's over. Léonie has to be one of the most irritating female characters I've read in a while: she wants to be considered an adult (being a 17-year-old girl in France in 1891) and yet consistently behaves like a child. When she is caught and (rightly) chided, she throws a tantrum worthy of a toddler. Every time, up until the last 50 or so pages, only a chapter is devoted to her actual emotion growth--which would have made a far more interesting story. Even Léonie's aunt Isodel had promise as a character up until those last few pages--but unfortunately not being main focus character Léonie, Isodel is denied any character growth: until the end she is weak, weepy, and lost without her man.(slight) Even the baby is too charming to be real. Considering the circumstances, couldn't he be possibly be at least a little trouble? Meredith may be less irritating, if only because she is an adult (less her Tragic Backstory, but it wasn't too bad, considering). Her introduction to Léonie's story stretches the imagination--there was no reason for her not to have her own 'twist' in her story instead of the Debussy memoir. If your character is supposedly researching a significant (real) historical figure, either she'd better let me know more about him, or discover something important (even if not real) during the course of the story. Instead Meredith's memoir research is her reason for being in France, and is given a shout out at the end. She does grant it a few thoughts while she wanders merrily on her own adventures, but I would like to know how she managed the rest of her research during her trip.The character description of both characters at times crossed into the terribly awkward: twice Léonie's hair is described as [paraphrased]: "falling down her back like a skein of silk to her slender waist", and Meredith gets a "she stretched her long, slender arms above her head." Neither is too terribly bad, but generally the text is fairly close 3rd person, which makes it sound like Léonie and Meredith have rather generous descriptions of themselves. Of course, this may well be my own insecurity, but since they've both had, and are continually given, perfectly serviceable and non-intrusive descriptions saying the same thing before, it's unnecessary purple prose.Speaking of purple prose, there's a lot of it. Mosse wants to place the reader in France, either in the late 19th century or modern day, and she spends a lot of words attempting too. Unfortunately, it reads more like a laundry list or a description of a post card, and buries whatever atmosphere or authenticity the setting could have granted.And frankly, I really don't care about the clothes. Patricia Clapp, in Jane-Emily had a few descriptions of clothes for her teenage narrator, but used them to indicate character growth. Here, it's just filler.Sepulchre's plot seems to be based on a similar conspiracy theory to The Da Vinci Code I think (admittedly, I'm more than a little shaky on my French history, but since I just read Secret Societies, the names seemed familiar). The tarot angle, quite frankly, never seemed to go anywhere, but perhaps it's just because this book took me so long to read. Léonie, especially, became so irritating after just a few chapters I'd have to set it down for minutes/hours/a month.Oh, and if you enjoy clever, engaging, convincing, threating villains, look somewhere else. Quite frankly, the foreshadowing in this novel, especially later, devolves into "That's an odd thing. It makes me think of ___. But that couldn't possibly be the case! Nope, no way. Couldn't possibly! Because I said so." Saying that, most of the rest wasn't too bad. But maybe trying to keep up suspense, a great many chapters ended on this note. Last, but not at all least, the villains are given their own point of view chapters, which is frankly one of the worst decisions in this book. This isn't a spoiler, because as soon as we get their pov, the villains announce their villainy. And in case you don't believe them, go out of their way to make their evil plans by rubbing their hands and cackling madly and commenting on the beauty of the protagonists. Both were despicable characters, not frightening antagonists. As a final note, however 19th century rich people though of their servants, it's something of a turn-off when your narrator genuinely thinks of the 'commoners' as being lesser. Every time she ended outside her house and family and encountered real people, Léonie seemed incapable as seeing them as anything but threatening. (And honestly, even if she did know more, it wouldn't have helped her. She's not a critical thinker of anything). The closest she can come to identifying with someone from a lower class than herself is with her Most Loyal Servants. And regarding the end? If anyone else can tell me that the very end does anything more than confirm her attitude as right, please let me know. Because I was seeing red.And thank goodness I only paid $3 for the hardcover at BigLots.

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