The Measure of a Novel

"The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it."  James Bryce

     I recently devoured enjoyed the reading of a novel entitled Masquerade by author Nancy Moser.  I began reading it by lamplight as I curled into the warmth and comfort of my bedclothes, but found that, unlike certain other books that scarcely hold my interest and lull me into restful slumber, Masquerade- set in the gilded age, chock full of elaborate descriptions of dresses worn by the wealthy and spattered with Italian phrases- enchanted me and led me on an expedition that swept away all thoughts of sleep.  Sleep, when my mind's eye is traveling the ocean between Liverpool and New York City in 1886 aboard the steamship Etruria?  Sleep, when a maid assumes her mistress's identity in order to have the life she'd only- until that moment- dreamed of?  Nay!  A thousand times nay.

     Since I must get my bellezza di riposo, I began to read during daylight.  And completed the book in two days.  The rich history of America, the poverty of the immigrants, the historical individuals the author incorporated into the story, the excitement of masquerading as a lady... totally absorbed me.  Did you know the Chinatown we all know of in New York was once the location of America's first slum, housing over 1 million immigrants in tenements unfit for humanity?  

     This book is an entertaining read, as well as being educating and thought-provoking.  It saddens me to think of what is now... and what once was.  Where so many happy people now traverse was once a horrid place of dwelling where people died for lack of air and nourishment.  

     During this enriching tale of two women trading identities, parts of history are revealed.  It was delightful from the beginning and kept me guessing at the outcome until the very end.  That, in itself, was a refreshing change of style.  Most historical romances are insufferably simple to decipher.  Also unlike others of its kind, Masquerade did not have a classic fairy-tale, happily-ever-after ending.  It was realistic and refreshing.  Nancy Moser, as I have mentioned before, is a fantastic author and weaves a story you'll want to keep within your library of enjoyable reads.

"The gown Mrs. Tremaine had ordered made for Charlotte's party was a complicated affair in rose and green.  Its lower skirt was layered with odd pointed flounces that hung like pink petals.  Covering the hips and creating a bustle was silk drapery that was pleated in scarves and held in place with bows and loops of green velvet ribbon to which two huge bouquets of multicolored flowers were added- one for each hip.  The dress had short puffed sleeves and a center bodice panel made from rows of lace and edged with a wide band of the velvet ribbon.  It looked as though the seamstress had utilized every style, every trick in her book."  Excerpt from Masquerade

"Books let us into their souls and lay open to us the secrets of our own."  William Hazlitt 

h. rae

1 comment:

  1. Book sounds pretty amazing! You have a great way of describing it ;)

    Thanks for your kind words on my blog today. It's not really something someone said, as much as it is some hard problems I am having in my marriage right now. Thank you for your words and your concern. Take care!!!!


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