Published: March 12, 2013
Publisher: Random House Books for Children
When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi.
Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world.
Glowing strands of romance, mystery, and suspense are woven into this breathtaking debut—a thrilling retelling of the “Bluebeard” fairy tale.
As I was reading Strands of Bronze and Gold it occurred to me that Bluebeard is a fairy tale that I am completely unfamiliar with. Apparently there are versions by both The Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault, but I have no recollection of reading either, which is unusual - I thought I'd read most tales by now. So, I have nothing to compare Strands of Bronze and Gold to. One thing is for sure, it is a very disturbing story.
Ms. Nickerson has crafted a delicious Southern Gothic mystery, that unravels slowly and carefully. The reader is aware that something strange has gone on, but unless you know the story, you find out what happened along with Sophia. One of the most disturbing aspects of the story for me was the extreme age disparity between Sophia and Monsieur de Cressac. Ugghh! What a nasty piece of work he is. Sometimes I think the worst villains are the ones who manage to hide their evilness under a veneer of charm, and he does it so well. Ms. Nickerson has set her version of the tale in the South and has incorporated aspects of the Underground Railroad. It's creepy and disturbing but a good read.
This was a fairy quick read for me - about 4 hours - but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I am now determined to find the original story and correct that deficit in my fairy tale education. For fairy tale lovers everywhere - read and enjoy.