I hope to write a proper review of this book later, but for now, all I want to say is that this has been the most fun and diabolical romp through the darkest recesses of Gothic fiction that I have ever come across.
I'm not sure it is a book I would recommend without reservations because there are large parts where this story just drags on and on, but it is definitely also a book I wish I had read much earlier.
And for what it is worth, I am very impressed that this story ends with both a bang and a whimper.
The Lady shook her head.
'I tremble for your Sister,' said She; 'I have heard many traits of the Domina of St. Clare's character, from a Friend who was educated in the same Convent with her. She reported her to be haughty, inflexible, superstitious, and revengeful. I have since heard that She is infatuated with the idea of rendering her Convent the most regular in Madrid, and never forgave those whose imprudence threw upon it the slightest stain. Though naturally violent and severe, when her interests require it, She well knows how to assume an appearance of benignity. She leaves no means untried to persuade young Women of rank to become Members of her Community: She is implacable when once incensed, and has too much intrepidity to shrink at taking the most rigorous measures for punishing the Offender. Doubtless, She will consider your Sister's quitting the Convent as a disgrace thrown upon it: She will use every artifice to avoid obeying the mandate of his Holiness, and I shudder to think that Donna Agnes is in the hands of this dangerous Woman.'
While neither Raymond's nor Lorenzo's story is particularly interesting ... and they drag quite a bit ... there are really fascinating scenes and inferences in the story.
I read the above description of the Prioress as that of a witch, or at least I can see some parallels in the descriptions of witches in other books. All of which go back to a portrayal of a woman in a role of power as a bad thing.
Now, the Prioress is kind of an evil character in this story so far, but there is also something defensive about her. I am eager to find out how she turns out at the end but there must be a reason why the Prioress professes to have sheltered a nun who a short time after suffered a miscarriage.
So many questions!
One thing is for sure, for a story dated 1796, this book is packed with dark surprises. A bit like some of the original Grimms' tales (not the sanitised version).
Nevermind, I got a bit confuddled but the pregnant nun was...another main character.
Still, ... I wonder if the Prioress ends up being something other than an evil w/bitch.
Ok, so the story of Matilda has finished in the most bizarre way. There have been quite a few scenes so far that would have shocked the readers in 1796, and that are still so weird.
And yet, that scene with Matilda at the end of Chapter II ... ewwww.
When does something become necrophilia exactly? On second thoughts, no I don't really want to ponder this.
By comparison, Raymond's story as told in Chapter III has been entirely boring.