Bluebeard’s Castle: A Novel (Verso Fiction)
Gothic novelist Judith writes of passion and steamy romance though she has never known it herself. Tony, a man perfect for her on paper, arouses no feelings of wild and reckless abandon, and she refuses to give herself fully to him for this reason. In filmmaker Anna Biller’s first novel, Bluebeard’s Castle, the limits of love are tested as Judith meets Gavin, a rakishly handsome man with more secrets than she can imagine.
Biller’s films are an interesting hybrid of feminist stances, noir, and sexual awakening. This novel is no different. As Judith awakens to her full sexuality, she is seemingly punished by the instability of her marriage, and all she believed about vows and forever bonds is shaken. Her picture-perfect sister Anne, the siren all men are called to, is a constant presence that irritates Judith as she envies her beautiful sister, but Gavin, shockingly, wants Judith. Red flags abound from their first meeting, but Judith is, apparently, too naive to see them.
While the sweeping descriptions of the world and Judith’s descent into near madness is well rendered, the modern references (to a Burberry bikini and an interview tie) are off-putting against a backdrop of 1950s lingerie and 19th century manners and etiquette. There is a very interesting novel here, but it’s buried in three or four different plots, which makes Bluebeard’s Castle a bit of a puzzle to work through. But, if you like gothic romance tinged with modern commentaries on gender politics, this one is for you.
|New Left Books
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