Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: the lady of the shroud

Gothic Fiction Turns Steam Punk in this Gem

You heard me right, my friends. I could not help but see this gothic fiction made into a movie with Will Smith as Rupert. I’m imagining a combination of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Wild Wild West here, complete with flying machines and tunnels through mountains to bring all the riches of the kingdom to port.

gothic fiction

This blog typically isn’t about the story as much as what it brings to mind. Life skills, relationships, parenting, politics, history, philosophy, all come into play as I write from quotes that catch my attention. In a fiction read, things run a bit little different, especially with my final thoughts on the book. I try not to give too much away. I don’t want to ruin it for you, so read with caution. If you’re one that doesn’t want to hear anything about the story other than what’s given in the title and inside cover, maybe this is the post to skip.

Short version: I loved this book. It was surprisingly easy to read for a book written over 100 years ago. And the story…oh my heart…beautiful. If you love Dracula and/or H.G. Wells’ style sci-fi, this is a great read. Now…stop reading right here if you don’t want to know more. You’ve been warned!

It’s been a while since I zoomed through a book this quickly; eleven hours of reading in five days. The old cliché comes to mind, “I couldn’t put it down!”

What I thought, based on the author, the title, and the cover art, would be gothic fiction, turned into an H.G. Wells style sci-fi novel about halfway through and I was thrilled to death with the effect. It was beautiful.

Back to that cover art for a moment. I don’t really think it does the book justice. Who decides these things?

The first half was exactly what I expected to be reading in gothic fiction. Who was this mysterious shrouded woman that came only in the night? Why is she sleeping in a clear crypt in the church during the day? Why did his uncle send him there? Did he know about this? What’s going on?

I won’t tell you. You’ll have to read to find out.

But about halfway through the book changes, you find out the reasons and then it goes into the founding and building of a nation, political alliances, and the creation of an air force (yes, in 1909, a few years after the Wright Brother’s got off the ground).

The setting of this gothic fiction is the Balkans and there’s much talk about keeping the Turks out and alliances with Britain, Austria being upset by her neighbors, etc. It was written just before the start of the first World War, so the influence of the political climate is definitely there. It would have made the book even better if I knew more details about that era. I’m not very well-versed in it, but I have far more knowledge than I did coming out of college when I believed that World War II and the Nazi’s just popped out of nowhere.

One complaint, though. I think he could have ended the story one hundred pages earlier. I don’t think we really needed to get into the details of the new kingdom. It got tedious. But maybe if you read it back when it was published you wouldn’t have thought so. It reflected much of what was going on in Europe at the time. I’d like to read some commentary on this book, if I can find it, to know more.

This is another book that I’m glad I stumbled across. And it wouldn’t have been found if I hadn’t been browsing physical books. The organic way to find books (and movies) just doesn’t happen for me via the internet. THIS is something that needs be fixed before I can embrace a hermitage fully!

A side note before I go: I’ve made one big change in my reading habits this year, I’ve started taking far more notes while I read. In the past I’ve found myself devouring a book only to discover that I can’t remember much of the story once I finish reading. To fix that, my reading notebook is filled with quick summaries of what I read the past hour, story notes.

This is my fourth book doing this, and it’s really helping. Once I finish reading, I tally up how long it took me to read it, and then scan over my notes. It feels much more cemented in my mind and it’s much easier to write my final thoughts to you. The real test will be to see how long the details of the story will stay in my mind. When someone asks me, “Hey, this looks interesting. What’s it about?” Maybe I’ll be able to say more than, “I loved it!”

Hop back to “Stoker’s The Lady of the Shroud” for more posts inspired by this book.

What Does it Mean to Feel Contentment?

To consistently feel contentment is a goal I’ve had most of my adult life. Oh my gosh, I sat here wondering if that were accurate for a few minutes and realized that I might be getting old. I wasn’t content as a young adult. I wanted my own apartment, college and career, all those things we are told to dream of in high school.

In my early twenties my dreams shifted to having enough money to pay the rent on time, or to buy food without wondering if I’ll run out of money before my next paycheck. Then I wanted that job, that boyfriend, those shoes, that vacation, the list went on and on. Once I had the next goal in hand, then I’d feel content. Only then would everything be as it should be.

I was generally happy in my pursuits. It never occurred to me that I was not or even should be content. Discontent is not a bad thing; it’s how we move forward and make things greater than they are. Progress comes from discontent with the status quo.

“Speech under present conditions would have seemed to me unnecessary, imperfect, and even vulgarly overt. She, too, was silent. But now that I am alone, and memory is alone with me, I am convinced that she also had been happy. No, not that exactly. ‘Happiness’ is not the word to describe either her feeling or my own. Happiness is more active, a more conscious enjoyment. We had been content. That expresses our condition perfectly; and now that I can analyze my own feeling, and understand what the word implies, I am satisfied of its accuracy.” From The Lady of the Shroud by Bram Stoker

That was my first decade of adulthood. In my second decade, the one where I acquired a husband, a home, and children, is where I realized I may need to slow my roll a bit and find some contentment. There is a balance in everything, right? We can’t run after new things non-stop without creating more discontentment.

I am currently entering my fourth decade as an adult, so it’s not accurate to write that I’ve had feeling consistently content as a goal most of my adult life, more like half of it as things stand.

I’m often happy, but rarely content, so this line struck me as a bit sad. How beautiful it would be to feel content, to long for nothing else than what you have in hand at that moment. And then I read the rest of the paragraph.

“’Content’ has both a positive and negative meaning or antecedent condition. It implies an absence of disturbing conditions as well as of wants; also it implies something positive which has been won or achieved, or which as accrued.” From The Lady of the Shroud by Bram Stoker

Struggling to consistently feel content is a lost cause. It’s not possible, or beneficial, to feel content at all times. Contentment in a moment is the result of something won or achieved, but it’s fleeting and rightfully so. Our hearts and minds rest in contentment and when refreshed they move on to the next goal to be achieved. What is it that the Mandalorian says? “This is the way.”

It’s fascinating what can bring enlightenment and change the way a person thinks about the world around them. For me, it’s more often than not a book I have stumbled across. This time a fictional work, written 110 years ago, about wild romance, a war, and the strange way it all came about has triggered me to rethink my pursuit of contentment.

And then my tv comes on…ugg…I swear this new tv has a mind of its own. I have no idea why it does this, other than an international communist conspiracy to distract me from my thoughts.

contentment
Top Ten Best Movies of all Time – Dr. Strangelove

Hop back to “Stoker’s The Lady of the Shroud” for more posts inspired by this book.

A Mysterious Compulsion Has Come Over Me

Oh my gosh…today’s Bloganuary prompt, “Write about something mysterious,” leads directly into the book I’m currently obsessed with reading. I read Clare’s Cosmos’ post first this morning and immediately knew what I would be writing about.

mysterious

Yesterday I read for over three hours when I typically read for an hour in the morning and then get on with my day. It was only partially the book that caused my slowdown though. After my morning routine, I was feeling so sloth like, moving through my day in a fog (another mystery). I figured, what the heck, I had a busy three-day weekend, I’ll get another cup of coffee and read for one more hour.

After another hour, I put the book down, made my bed, folded the laundry out of the dryer, and then had some lunch…only to find myself on the couch again with a bowl of pretzels, the book open in my lap. This lady is working some kind of spell on me, the same way she seems to have entrapped our poor Rupert, although he doesn’t seem to mind.

Some people are so easily lured to their doom by a pretty face and a mysterious meeting.

“Reason is a cold manifestation; this feeling which swayed and dominated me is none other than passion, which is quick, hot, and insistent.”

And not a feeling you want to follow without resistance, Rupert. He’s not a sheltered child. He’s spent time in adventures all over the world. Why does he not see how very strange these midnight meetings are? He’s letting that passion rule his brain and I’m afraid for him.

“What need was there for reason at all? Inter arma silent leges – the voice of reason is silent in the stress of passion. Dead she may be, or Un-dead – a Vampire with one foot in Hell and one on earth. But I love her; and come what may, here or hereafter, she is mine.”

You see what I mean? He’s clearly under some mysterious spell.

Who is this mysterious woman? She doesn’t seem evil or have ill-intent toward anyone. What binds her to death but won’t let her rest? What is happening in the village? Who are they arming themselves against? Is it her? What’s going on?!

Whatever happens (and don’t worry, I won’t ruin it for you), I’ll be there to read to the end. I can’t put this book down until I find out, much to the dismay of my husband who really needs me to finish painting the entryway so he can finish the floor this weekend.

Oh, the romance of it all. Why am I so in love with this mystery?

Hop back to “Stoker’s The Lady of the Shroud” for more posts inspired by this book.

Stoker’s The Lady of The Shroud

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.

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

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