Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

It’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him.
When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia’s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause. 

Once I started reading this book, I couldn’t put it down. To be fair, I have a soft spot for period fiction. I love reading about the mannerisms and the social interactions from the past. Seeing how much we’ve changed, but yet not changed has always been fascinating to me, so when I read that the book was based in the 1800s I knew that I was in for a treat. 
The story follows Amelia, who has an odd power to see the future at sunset. Her brother sent her from their home in Maine to live with cousins in Baltimore so she could find a suitable match. However, she ends up falling for a man her brother would not approve of and getting into a lot of mischief along the way. 
Amelia and her cousin, Zora, are quite likable. Their friends are quickly introduced and, with the exception of Sarah and Mattie, we don’t find out a lot about them. It would have been wonderful to read more of their relationship with their friends and acquaintances. However, we do see a lot of Thomas and Nathaniel, as well as the whirlwind romance as the two court their ladies. 
I cannot deny that I wished there were more pages to this book. I love the way Saundra described the period and the way the girls pushed the limits of their time. I loved the interactions and insight into how society worked with its rules and etiquette, as well as the parallels that could be drawn with society today. I loved the paranormal twist to the story and the fast paced ending . The Vespertine was a lovely tale, that left me wanting more. 

[review of arc via netgalley]

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