“Come along. Let’s get out of here and go toast to youth and vampires and rebellion.”
Cat Winters has done it again. I have been captivated by this book for every spare minute of reading I’ve managed to fit in. I’m not quite sure how Winters manages to so thoroughly take me out of this world and plant me into another time full of atmosphere, history and a little dash of the paranormal. But she does.
“I’ve said this before,” he said through his teeth, “and I’ll say it again: This is all for your own good. You do not need to be burdened with impossible dreams.”
In the opening years of the twentieth century, women’s dreams often remained just that. Expected to leave school, marry, and look after the home, the world’s wonders would glitter off in the distance and women had to accept that they would never have the opportunity to reach for them. But that didn’t mean these women didn’t dream and want and hope and – eventually – fight. Winters has a certain knack for bringing ambitious and feisty women into a setting completely at odds with their personalities. As with her first novel, In the Shadow of Blackbirds, Winters once again portrays the difficulties of being a young woman with dreams in a society that won’t let them happen.
“Your future is to become a respectable housewife and mother. Women belong in the home, and inside some man’s home you’ll stay.”
Prepare to be more than a little pissed off. And then be prepared to grin madly as Olivia repeatedly proves everyone wrong. Then there’s that whole part of this novel with the sexy almost-French hypnotist… what more do you need from a book, anyway?
There are a number of interesting and complex things happening in this novel – all of which, I found fascinating. Firstly, there is the relationship between Olivia and her father – who I wanted to die a million painful deaths – and yet… I felt a certain glimmer of sadness for him in the end because he was nothing but his own worst enemy. Then there is the historical woven with the paranormal aspect that just completely transported me into the time and place of the novel. The author captures the time perfectly and the feeling of frustration that many women must have felt.
“I love that books allow us to experience other lives without us ever having to change where we live or who we are.”
In this book, Olivia’s father hires a hypnotist to cure Olivia of her “unfeminine” dreams of college, suffrage and freedom. However, Henri Reverie instead makes her see the world “as it truly is”, giving those she cannot trust a monstrous visage. I can hardly begin to describe the array of emotions this book took me through: anger, sadness, frustration, warm fuzzies… all of them in a good way. It is, in the end, a book about equality and how silencing a group of people will only make them more determined to fight harder.
I loved it.