Tuesday, February 07, 2006

deliciously horrible

I am reading the equivalent of a Harlequin romance for one of my seminars. A prize to anyone who guesses the correct decade (or year) of the work from the excerpts below, each worthy of illustration on a trashy paperback cover. A double prize to if anyone can name the work itself (it's not totally unknown in certain circles). I especially love the phrase "the whisper... fell on her ear like a torrent of boiling lead." Enjoy!

The sun in its last glow cast a warm light over his broad chest and muscular form, and invested with a golden flush, his fine aquiline features, shaded by a dark beard and flowing black hair. It was altogether a striking face; the eyes, somewhat sunken beneath the well-defined brows, were large, black, and strangely brilliant. He would have been observed and gazed at in any company, and even now, as he stood beside the oak, the boundless prairie around, and the Great God above, there was something noble in his look and bearing. It is true he wore a plaid grey frock, reaching to the knee and edged with fur, yet this unpretending garment displayed a broad chest, supported by a waist, at once slender and pliable, and revealed the iron outline of his sinewy arms. Its color, pale grey, gave a richer lustre to the sunset glow which bathed his face.
`Rise, lady! On one condition I will peril my life to save you.'
He raised her gently from the floor. She stood there, erect as a queen upon her throne. Around her neck waved her glossy black hair. You could see her young bosom pant and writhe beneath the velvet cloak.
`One condition!' she murmured; and waited for him to speak.
He spoke it with his eyes. With his parting lips. With that sudden gaze which devoured every outline, every tint of her voluptuous form, from the head framed in the black hair, to the feet as white as marble.
She shrank back as though a bullet had pierced her brain.
`No! No! No! You cannot be so base as to think it!'
`Isabel---' the whisper, husky with passion, fell on her ear like a torrent of boiling lead. `The case is plain. I love you---have loved you for years. Be mine, and I will sacrifice my rank, my honor, to serve you!'

UPDATE: answer is in the comments.


Anonymous said...

Vom! Is it jane austen? ;)

Bardiac said...

It's practically a crime to associate that horror with Austen, queen of glorious prose.

I'm guessing late 19th century or early 20th century. It almost reads like a parody, though, it's so bad.

I feel sorry for you having to read it!

kermitthefrog said...

well, the answer is: 1848. George Lippard, 'Bel of Prairie Eden.

Clare: isn't that what you've always imagined Darcy looking like? ;)

+ Bardiac: Don't feel sorry for me - it was quite short, and for the most part, very enjoyable in its hyperbole. When I posted, I'd only read 15 pages or so out of 65, though, and it definitely gets more gruesome, even tragic, by the end. Less Harlequin, more horror movie.