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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

...Victorian romance with a difference

Lady Emily's Exotic Journey (Victorian Adventures #2) by Lillian Marek

Lady Emily Tremaine is a bit of a hoyden, with loads of charm and an enquiring mind. Attractive and assured she has accompanied her parents, along with her friend and extended family member, Lady Julia de Vaux, to Constantinople and then onto Mesopotamia. Her father, the Marquess of Penworth, is assessing the possibility of railway links along the Tigris. Her mother is interested in the archeological excavations of Nineveh.     
Craving adventure, Emily certainly has her full share. Emily's parents are wonderful characters. The family is close and caring. Lady Penworth anticipates her daughter's boredom and needs in a wonderful way. I love that she ensures their tracking costumes are wearable, comfortable and chic. I adore her passion for Worth's couture. Emily's and Julia's inclusion on this more than a memorable journey is all part of her doing.
Added to this is Emily's meeting with the Frenchman, Lucien Chambertin, an adventurer. They cannot deny the attraction they feel, although Lucien drives himself crazy trying to convince himself that what he feels is merely friendship. That is, until Emily is in danger and Lucien realizes that he might have lost her. Of course Lucien is slightly more than an adventurer having turned his back on his noble French antecedents. 
A quite enchanting novel with its exotic setting, I was fascinated by the descriptions of the various women's quarters The female members of the party were housed in. Marek's descriptions give such scenes a vibrancy of jewelled, brilliant colours, sounds and patterns.
Then again, the contrast between the times of day that are painted is poetic.
I admit to being struck by Julia's reflection that she 'loved the early morning, full of possibilities.' Just as this journey has opened Julia herself and Emily up to new and unthought of possibilities.
Lady Julia is attracted to David Oliphant who accompanies the group as a Foreign Office aide. He of course has secrets, but then so does Julia, Their story is as charged with adventure as that of Emily's and Lucien's.
New archeological discoveries at the ruins of Nineveh add further adventure to the story as do the unfortunate antics of the archeologist M. Carnac and his daughter, Mélisande. 
A delightful read, so much so, that I have already raced through the first in the series, the story of Emily's sister in, 'Lady Elinor's Wicked Adventures.'


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