It is spring 1915. On a sprawling country estate not far from London, a young woman mourns her husband, fallen on a distant battlefield. The eerie stillness in which she grieves is abruptly shattered as her home is transformed into a bustling military hospital. Recoiling from the chaos, unhinged by grief, the young widow finds unexpected refuge in a tender young soldier whose face, concealed by bandages, she cannot see. Their affair takes a fateful turn when she confronts and seizes upon the opportunity to remake her lover in the image of her lost husband.
The Crimson Portrait is a novel of glittering surfaces that belie dark truths. Its rich cast comes into focus as the novel peels back layers of suspense and intrigue to illuminate the abiding mysteries of affinity and desire.
"Shields...renders richly textured prose and a cast of vibrant characters." (Booklist)
"Beautifully haunting....Shields' writing weaves dark, mythical symbolism with matter-of-fact medical nitty-gritty to reveal what happens when class, ignorance, hopefulness, and despair coalesce." (Publishers Weekly)
I ordered this book on the strength of another I had read by the same author. Katherine, a young war widow, offers her estate to be used as a hospital for facilly disfigured soldiers. The novel focuses on the devastating effects of World War I on several key figures: Katherine, three of the doctors, a woman artist who designs prostheses for the patients, and Julian, a patient who strangely resembles Katherine's husband. While well written, the novel is a bit dry and predictable--except for a scene near the end that was both unbelievable and infuriating.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful