Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

Amelia is sent by her brother to Baltimore to catch a husband. In Baltimore she stays with her cousin Zora. While in Baltimore the two girls quickly gain fame when Amelia begins having visions of the future. Amelia has some trepidation about these visions although she is distracted from it all by Nathaniel an artist she meets at a family party that is below the standing, however she can't seem to keep herself from wanting him.

It took me a long time to figure out how I felt about this book. There were a lot of things about it that drove me crazy. Mainly I felt like certain parts of the plot were just glossed over, and there was one point I'm still kind of confused about regarding Nathaniel, particularly the ending. (I'm not going to go into detail because I don't want to spoil anything for anybody.) Those are the gripes, now onto the good stuff.

I absolutely adored the writing style and ambiance. While it was written in a standard prose style there was something very poetic about the writing. Even the simplest of descriptions sounds absolutely gorgeous. The beauty of the language is just absolutely entrancing. My favorite descriptions were of her visions, particularly the happy ones. When Amelia has a vision, she experiences it as though it were happening to her; the happy scenes are lovely and moving. The sad and painful ones are down right gut wrenching and painful, especially when they are for someone Amelia likes or loves.

The language definitely contributed to the ambiance the book has. (Although I feel like I don't have the right kind of language to describe it.) At the opening of the book we actually start at the end, when Amelia has returned home from her adventures in Baltimore. The despair that she feels over the outcomes can be felt in every word. You feel for Amelia and how for her the sun will never shine again. Then we switch to Baltimore and Amelia's initial arrival. You feel her excitement and nervousness and it's a sharp contrast to the despair the novel opens with. Through out the book we go back and forth and I think this serves to heighten the tension in the novel, because you already know it will go wrong and just how bad it will really be.

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