When I am up in Big Bear, I always visit the used book store, Bearly Used Books. It’s tucked away upstairs at the Village Faire and every time I go in there, I find several treasures to take home with me. I go right to the “classics” section and run my finger along the titles, searching for the ones I don’t have or by authors I heard the name of. This last time my eyes stopped “Bram Stoker” and it was not under the title Dracula, it was The Lady of The Shroud.
I didn’t know Bram Stoker wrote anything else and Dracula is one of my favorite stories. I’ve read the book at least twice and seen every movie rendition of it several times over. Yes, it’s the sex that draws me in. There’s just something super-hot about the story, but I won’t get into THAT because we’re here to talk about The Lady of The Shroud!
I read the introduction in this version and was fascinated by his family and upbringing. His father was a civil servant (a career he took up as well), and his mother was…eccentric. She was friends with Oscar Wilde’s mother and, as an adult, Stoker stole his girl out from under him and married her. I didn’t know that Stoker was Irish or that his name was Abraham, which makes Bram as a name make sense. Now I’m wondering if there might be a good biography about the author out there.
I’m only eighteen pages into The Lady of The Shroud and I’m already enjoying the style immensely. It’s written the same way Dracula was, letters and documents used to report on an incident as if it happened to the author recently and he’s just documenting the facts for the future.
It’s interesting to me that I can read a 350-page modern novel far faster than I can a classic from 100 years ago. This book is 258 pages long, large pages, a fine print. I only read about twenty pages the hour I had this morning. Settle in because it looks like we’ll be here a while.
“…my dear Rupert, you shall be of full age in seven years more. Then, if you are in the same mind – and I am sure you shall not change – you, being your own master, can do freely as you will.”The lady of the shroud by bram stoker
Rupert’s parents died and his mother left him an estate controlled by trustees until he is an adult. He gets money for lodging, food, and clothing, from that estate each year, but he wishes to legally give it to his “aunt,” a woman that used to care for him as governess. His trustees cannot legally do that but some are helping him to help her in other ways.
What interests me is that Rupert has shown up at his uncle’s home, poor, dirty, and hungry, to ask him (as his trustee) to help him. The man refuses, then offers food. Rupert refuses it and leaves. Then I read he’ll be “of full age in seven years.” Full age at the time was 21, so Rupert is fourteen years old and on his own. That’s not surprising for the time. It’s only recently we have begun to think of young people between thirteen and twenty as “children” needing constant care and supervision.
It reminds me of when my oldest son took off for a two-week trip to Germany when he was sixteen, and then left again for a year there when he was seventeen. I knew (but I was still terrified) that he was essentially a young adult with very little experience and the only way to gain experience is by doing life. He went out into the world, an adult in many ways but still under the protection of his family, not quite in charge of himself, the same way Rupert is in my story.
I believe we coddle our children, much to their detriment and our own. Yes, they are young and learning. They will make many mistakes, some of which can ruin them or others. But the only way we all learn is by doing. We can’t set them safely aside until they reach a more moderate age and then set them free into the world expecting them to act that age. Maturity is only brought on by experience.
I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this book. Will it be as good as Dracula? Possibly. It already feels similar. The matter-of-fact way that Stoker describes the eerie way things happen, it’s like he’s ever so slowly slowing down your heart to stop it. You don’t even know he’s doing it until it’s too late, a lot like the way Dracula entreats you to give up your life blood willingly.
Want to read more? Check out these posts inspired by quotes from this book!
Much Needed Advice From the Past
A Mysterious Compulsion Has Come Over Me
What Does it Mean to Feel Contentment?
Gothic Fiction Turns Steam Punk in this Gem