Possession. Power. Passion. New York Times bestselling novelist M.J. Rose creates her most provocative spellbinder to date in this gothic novel set against the lavish backdrop of Belle Époque Paris.
Indie Next Pick • Library Reads Pick • People Magazine Pick • Boston Globe Pick of the Week
Called an “elegant tale of rare depth and beauty, as brilliantly crafted as it is wondrously told” by the Providence Journal, The Witch of Painted Sorrows “melds the normal and paranormal in the kind of seamless fashion reserved for such classic ghost stories as Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw.”
New York socialite Sandrine Salome flees an abusive husband for her grandmother’s Paris mansion, despite warnings that the lavish family home is undergoing renovation and too dangerous to enter. There Sandrine meets Julien Duplessi, a mesmerizing architect who introduces her to the City of Lights—its art world, forbidden occult underground, nightclubs—and to her own untapped desires.
Soon Sandrine’s husband tracks her down and an insidious spirit takes hold: La Lune, a witch and a legendary sixteenth-century courtesan who exposes Sandrine to a deadly darkness.
“M.J. Rose has a talent for compelling writing, and this time she has outdone herself. Fear, desire, lust, and raw emotion ooze off the page,” says the Associated Press. In her instantly absorbing tour de force, Rose imagines Sandrine’s “wild night of the soul” dramatically underwritten by a tragic love story and a family curse that illuminates the fine line between explosive passion and complete ruination.
This haunting tale of possession, set in 1894 Paris, from bestseller Rose (The Book of Lost Fragrances) inaugurates a new trilogy. "I did not cause the madness, the deaths, or the rest of the tragedies... I had help." So says New York socialite and artist Sandrine Salome, who bears the scars of her first traumatic experience with love. At 15, she was caught, naked, with 18-year-old Leon Ferre. When Leon's father learned of the nature of their relationship, he slapped his son, accidentally triggering a fatal asthma attack in the boy. Ten years later, to escape her treacherous husband, Sandrine flees New York for her grandmother's home in Paris, where her grandmother reminds Sandrine that the City of Lights is "poison" to her. Sure enough, Sandrine finds herself taken over by the spirit of La Lune, the woman of "moon dreams, of legends and of nightmares." Fans of literate supernatural suspense will be pleased.
This book is different from what I'm used to reading. Mainly because it's based in the 1800s, which I enjoyed as I began the first few chapters. I have an eye out for another book by this Author (The Collector of Dying Breaths). I was entertained with this book & the wonderful story telling. Her writing was so detailed. It wasn't hard to get swept away. I was shocked by some of the events in the book. Overall, this book was a pleasant change of pace for me. Sept 2016 JG
wonderful example of historical fiction with a thread of romance
1890’s Paris is the setting, and Sandrine Salome is running to her grandmother’s home in Paris from an abusive husband in New York. While her grandmother insists that the family home is also dangerous, she does welcome Sandrine, and tries to protect her from all that would harm her. In the process, there are family secrets to unravel, a possible possession, her delving into her, until then, erotic fantasy life and the ever-menacing threat of her husband’s return.
With great skill, M.J. Rose incorporated lavish detail and historical fact into the story’s background, giving readers an easily accessible series of visual references, bringing Paris to life. Exposing readers to areas that may have been unfamiliar, adding in art, the occult and a menacing spirit that is threatening Sandrine’s psyche and life, the twists never stop coming to add details and depth, as well as increase the tension.
With the introduction to Julien, Sandrine’s eyes are truly opened: he is an architect with a taste for the bohemian freestyling life of art, sex and even dabbling in the occult. Sandrine’s fascination with this new life that feels so freeing is not without difficulties and secrets, but allows her growth beyond her own limited imaginings.
Rose uses language and phrasing with care and precision, evocative and lush, each sentence builds the story, the characters and the tension as a collision of old, new, corporeal and spiritual elements fight to gain supremacy as Sandrine discovers a new life and desires. Erotic moments enlighten Sandrine’s outlook, and provide a solid example of her changing personality, but whether it is truly her breaking free, or the spirits taking over, that is yet to be determined.
Multiple generations, outlooks and perspectives span time to come together to culminate in a story that is difficult to put down. Wholly engaging, with twists and tensions galore, this is a wonderful example of historical fiction with a thread of romance and the supernatural.
I received an eArc cop of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Pulled me in. Then it was like the author didn't know what to do with the characters. Nothing explained.