©1995 Ross King; (P)1995 Random House
"Replete with mystery and suspense, and immersed in vivid historical details, this work is also a sharp, philosophical musing on the disguises of the world and the search for the truth that lies beneath." (Library Journal)
Painter, musician, bibliophile...
I've loved Ross King's art history books, so his first novel, set in one of my favorite time periods intrigued me. The characters sounded rather enticing, the plot intricate.
But when I finished it, I felt as if I'd been whirled about in one too many waltzes after an excess of champagne. What on earth really happened in this story? I can't tell you because I don't know.
The best part of this book is the vitality of its imagery. With his visually acute sensibility, King conjures images of beauty, decadence, and sensuality with admirable skill. He brings the reader into intimate contact with life in the late 18th Century. While many historical novels get some details wrong (and this one is no exception) the flaws here are insignificant.
Our narrator confesses within minutes that he is a murderer. This, along with the dazzling milieu, draws one into the story and its characters. But then a sort of madness sets in. It didn't take long before I was utterly confused.
The theme of the masquerade, of nothing being as it seems, is intentional and provides the overriding metaphor for the novel. But did King mean to be so obscure that many readers should have no idea what it was all about? If so, why? I wish I could ask the author!
Perhaps I am not bright enough to comprehend this book. If you feel differently about it, please write a review. As for myself, I can't recommend this, despite the late actor Denis Quilley's magnificent narration.
I agree with the other reviewer on this book. It could have been good, but I just couldn't understand
what was going on in the story, due to the narration. It was entirely jumbled and in the audio, there was no differention in the characters, so you couldn't tell who was who. Moral of this one- save your money, get something else.
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