Review by Choice Review
The discovery by Madeleine Stern and Leona Rostenberg of Louisa May Alcott's pseudonym (A.M. Barnard) led to the unearthing of numerous Alcott publications under this name. Often (and appropriately) characterized as "blood and thunder" tales, they were intended for adults, sport Gothic overtones, deal with such topics as hashish and feminism, and were penned by Alcott in a desperate effort to earn money. The present novel falls squarely in this category although it has not been previously published. The title aptly describes the plot. Purchased at an auction in manuscript form from Alcott's heirs and published in a handsome edition largely faithful to that original manuscript, this novel will be of interest more for its historical than for its literary value; for that reason, the lack of an introduction is regrettable. This is one of several books by or about Alcott scheduled for publication in this and the coming year (see, e.g., Louisa May Alcott Unmasked: Collected Thrillers,, edited by Stern, CH, Dec'95), several of which bring her "blood and thunder" tales back into print. Previous editions of these tales include Behind a Mask: The Unknown Thrillers of Louisa May Alcott (CH, Nov'75) and Plots and Counterplots (CH, Oct'76), both edited by Stern. Recommended for collections in American literature, women's literature, and Gothic literature. E. R. Baer; Gustavus Adolphus College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
This romantic cliffhanger about a woman pursued by her ex-lover, a relentless stalker, seems sprung from today's headlines. Yet Alcott (1832-1888) wrote it more than a century and a quarter ago, in 1866 (two years before the appearance of Little Women), only to see it rejected it as ``too sensational'' by the magazine that had requested it. The novel has remained unpublished until now. Its heroine, the lonely, trusting 18-year-old Rosamond Vivian, who lives with her flinty, unloving grandfather on an English island, falls for the cynical, suave Phillip Tempest, who's nearly twice her age. He whisks her off to his Mediterranean villa near Nice, promising to marry her, but when she discovers that he is secretly married (and strongly suspects that he has murdered the son he never acknowledged), Rosamond flees to Paris, assuming a new identity. Phillip obsessively stalks her for two years, from France, where she seeks refuge in a convent and falls in love with a protective priest, to Germany, where Phillip has her committed to a lunatic asylum; eventually she flees to England. Alcott's portrayals of the pathological Phillip and of the conflicted Rosamondwho initially clings to her ex-lover, hoping to reform him until she realizes he is a murderous bruteshow strong psychological insights. This absorbing novel revises our image of a complex and, it is now clear, prescient writer. Major ad/promo; Literary Guild selection; first serial to Ladies Home Journal; film rights to Citadel Entertainment (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
This long-lost bit of Alcott's early, gothic-romance hack writingwritten for, but never published by, a popular magazine in 1866proves the proposition that not every bit of prose penned by favorite authors is worth the trouble to read. ``I tell you I cannot bear it! I shall do something desperate if this life is not changed soon,'' moans 18-year-old Rosamond, a beautiful orphan confined to the lonely island estate of her grandfather. Fortunately for Rosamond, a handsome visitor has arrived on the island even as she says these wordsa man who strongly reminds Rosamond of the portrait of Mephistopheles hanging in the hall. The resemblance is, of course, prophetic, as the mysterious Phillip Tempest spirits away ``the sweetest piece of womanhood he had ever seen'' on his yacht, marries her at her insistence, and sets up house with her in his luxurious villa near Nice. For a while Rosamond is happy with her older protector and his faithful boy-servant, Ippolitountil she learns that Phillip is already married, that his English wife refuses to divorce him until he surrenders custody of their son, and that their son is in fact Ippolito!. Her heart broken and her virtue compromised, Rosamond flees to Paris, only to find that the evil Phillip is too obsessed with her to leave her in peace, instead committing murder and mayhem in his efforts to recover her. Phillip's desperate schemes and Rosamond's sudden changes of heart grow increasingly arbitrary and erratic as the story rambles on (and as, one imagines, the weary Alcott grows ever more impatient with the job), but it is no surprise that the villain is foiled in the end. Much as one longs for insight into the young author's developing talent, this written-to-order serial sheds more light on what lengths a writer will go to pay for room and board. (First serial to Ladies' Home Journal; film rights to Citadel Entertainment; Literary Guild selection)
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Descriptive content provided by Syndetics™, a Bowker service.