My friend said she read this book and hated it. I didn't pay much attention, and probably would never have checked it out. I'm not much a fan of historical dramas. But when another friend said she read it and hated it I became very interested of a sudden. I had to know what was so horrible and depressing about this story.
And I have never regretted reading it.
I will confess. The characters are less than ideal. Sir Richard Grenvile is a self-centred cad; Honour Harris is a vain, spoiled maiden. Gartred is evil to the core, but every story has to have a villain, so that's all right.
But for some reason these characters are real. I've known self-centred cads before and I can easily understand Honour's tireless, devoted devotion to Richard, regardless of what he does or says.
Honour is crippled early in the book and spends the rest in a wheelchair. From this confining angle of vision comes a story of epic proportions, a sort of Cornwallian Gone With the Wind. Set in the 1600's during some civil war (I cannot tell which one, or if it was the only one), it tells the story of surviving invading soldiers and the desolation of the aftermath of war.
This story has it all. Romance, intrigue, births, deaths, tragedies, and the gothic setting of Menabilly. I cannot understand why my two friends hate it so. It was the best, most realistic, most fascinating story that I had read in a long time, and I felt peculiarly alive and inspired when I had finished it.
I told this to my first friend and she backed away from me. She referred to this motion as (I paraphrase) her retreat from a black widow spider. "How can you like that horrible book?" she asked. She and my other friend and I have had many, many debates - I in defense and they against me.
But I am happy to be a black widow spider as long as my web... web of intrigue... can be this book.