Review 186. Jane Nickerson – Strands of bronze and gold.

13721341Title: Strands of bronze and gold.
Author: Jane Nickerson.
Pages: 352.
Published: March 12th 2013.
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Sort: Part one of ‘Strands of bronze and gold.’
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.
        Rating

Despite the fact that I sort of liked this book, I was also disappointed. I expected more and it was less creepy than I anticipated. Knowing the real story, I was hoping to get more excitement. There are hardly any retellings about this tale (I’ve only seen it mentioned in one book before) so I was hoping to get a really good book. Instead, I got a story that wasn't memorable.

When Sophia’s father dies, he leaves her, her sister and her two brothers behind as orphans. Sophia is lucky enough to have a rich godfather. She hopes to help her family by moving in his mansion. He is very charming and he overwhelms her with expensive gifts. Sophia is starting to see him not only as a godfather, but as a man. But something is not right and his facade is slowly starting to crumble. Sophia feels smothered by his possessive nature and she is afraid for his explosive temper. He practically forces her to marry him and that is when she finds out about his greatest secret. His other wives didn’t die from a natural cause and he isn’t planning to let Sophia leave.

What bothered me is the fact that her father never questioned why his friend only wants to be godfather of Sophia. He admits that Bernard has strong affections from Sophia, but he never thinks this is strange? What about his other children? I would’ve tried to arrange something for them as well, but that would have changed the complete story of course.

Sophia is not a bad character in the beginning. She is shy and she seemed intelligent, but I didn’t like the way she changed herself to please Bernard. I can see why she was falling for him. He was kind, interested in her opinion and he makes her feel safe and wanted, but that doesn’t mean you need to do things that make you feel embarrassed. I wished she showed more of the spunk she has at the end. Throughout the story, I was bored by her and I didn't feel connected to her. There were times she annoyed me.

Bernard. It’s clear that he is out of his mind, but I think that grief changed him in the person he is now. I liked how Nickerson painted his split personality. It makes him a villain you don’t hate a 100% and it makes him a more realistic treat. I think he cares for Sophia in his own twisted way. There are also some secondary characters: while they have their distinct role, I find them a bit underdeveloped.

Nickerson has a pleasant writing-style. It’s detailed and easy. It wasn’t hard to imagine how the characters and the environment looks. I liked the plot, but I already knew that since I’m familiar with the original story. It’s such a morbid tale. The ending held some of the tension I expected earlier. It was satisfying and fairytale-ish: good wins, evil loses. I just wished I felt more creepiness in the overall story.

39 comments

  1. It sounds like an interesting read, though I'm not sure I'd like it either!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's interesting, but nothing more than that unfortunately.

      Delete
  2. I'm not familiar with the original tale, but I have been curious about this book. It's a shame that it didn't quite work for you. I'm also not a fan of main characters who feel the need to change themselves to please the love interest. I'm sorry to hear that you couldn't fully connect with Sophia. Honestly, I'm a little unsure about this now! I have a copy, but I don't know if it would be worth my time. Thanks for review, Mel! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmm, I'd almost say that it's better to skip this one, but you have a copy so you can always give it a shot :)

      Delete
  3. Heard pretty bad reviews for this book, not many people liked it. Never a good thing when you can't connect with the MC :( But I'm glad the writing style was good :) Great review Mel!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, there was at least one positive thing, haha.

      Delete
  4. I was interested in reading this after reading Kill Me Softly. Ended up not reading it because of so many bad reviews on Goodreads. Bummer too cause the cover is so pretty =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's pretty similar to Kill me softly. Both interesting promise, but bad execution.

      Delete
  5. Huh. I don't think this sounds like a book for me at all. Like the cover, but yeah. Not for me :) I'm sorry you didn't fully love it, though. Should have been creepier ;p And it sucks when you just don't like the main character. Sigh. Thank you for your awesome review, though, Mel :D

    ReplyDelete
  6. Two stars? That's disappointing! I wasn't as hyped up for this book as many others were, but still fairly interested, so it's a shame that you didn't like it more. Characters that go through personality changes get on my nerves. A LOT. So I probably wouldn't be able to enjoy this book much either, with such an annoying MC. I'm glad that the writing was easy to follow, but with all the flaws you mentioned above... I'd probably skip this book! So thanks for such a helpful review, Mel!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't mind changes - if it's a good development. And here, it wasn't..

      Delete
  7. Sorry that the pleasant writing style and ending couldn't make up for the rest of the story. I've also not seen many retellings on the Bluebeard tale (was the Mortal Instruments the other book you'd seen it mentioned in?), but it might be the sort of tale that's hard for a YA story and for a sympathetic retelling. You were frustrated with the protagonist, and the original tale doesn't paint her as the best either. It's a shame that she changes herself for Bernard's sake. That's probably my least favorite thing any protagonist could do in terms of romance.

    ReplyDelete
  8. It sucks that this book has not been too good a read for many. I mean, the Bluebeard tale is not often retold in Literature! Sigh. Just another example of good idea, poor execution. I'd be very peeved by Sophia changing herself as well. Grr.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I read this book a while ago and pretty much hated it. Sophia was a little interesting but, like you said, she changed too much, not in the right way and not for the right reasons. I didn't really like the ending because everything was leading to this exact moment, but it ended too quickly. Bernard was defeated too easily.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm, true, it was a bit fast. I think I liked it, because it was the ending to this story, haha.

      Delete
  10. ugh must be annoying that a character changed herself for a BOY... sheesh.. Don't think I'll ever be reading this one honestly! Thanks for your review!
    - Farah @ MajiBookshelf

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't recommend it. You don't miss a thing :)

      Delete
  11. Hmmm..and yet there was such a big hoopla about this book (surprise, surprise). Yet another book on the maybe-never pile. Sigh.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Too bad it was a disappointment. I hate reading about spineless girls changing for the boy they fancy themselves to be in love with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too. There is nothing wrong with adjusting a bit, but changing goes too far.

      Delete
  13. I read this and I agree -- based on the original fairy tale, I was hoping for something much darker and creepier!

    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

    ReplyDelete
  14. This sounds so interesting, but I really dislike it when you can't connect with the main character. It just makes it that much harder to invest yourself in the story.
    As silly as this must sound, which fairytale is it based on? I cannot for the life of me think of one that aligns with the blurb...
    I like creepy villains, so I still might give this a go after all.
    Great review, Mel ^.^
    Chiara @ Books For A Delicate Eternity

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's based on Blue Beard :) You read a free version here:
      http://childhoodreading.com/?p=20

      Delete
  15. This ended up being a very middling read for me, too. You're right, the writing itself is lovely--I just didn't care for where the story went. And where it didn't go, hah.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    ReplyDelete
  16. I read this, got to the epilogue, and just stopped. I guess I didn't care enough to finish the whole thing? I agree, the writing was good but I wanted more from it. I don't even remember my feelings on Sophia. I actually didn't remember her name either, oops. I was sad because I'm interested in Bluebeard retellings! I'll keep hoping for a great one, though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a great thing. I wish I didn't finish it after all.

      Delete
  17. I found this book so boring-I really wanted to love it but I ended up finding it so expected. I think some people who didn't know the Bluebeard story really enjoyed but since I knew the "twist" I was less than impressed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think not knowing the real story is a good thing here.

      Delete
  18. Your blog is so cute <3 I love it so much!

    I have this book in the TBR pile but haven't felt motivated to pick it up, because of all the not-so good reviews. I definitely don't like it when a MC is boring. I love flawed characters, weird characters, and hateful characters, but boring is where the love stops.

    I am still interested in the book though. The original Bluebeard was quite a story :)

    Great review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Lottie! :D

      You should give it a try then, perhaps you'll like it!

      Delete
  19. I admit that I'd been on the fence about this one...I really lied the cover but I wasn't sure how the execution of the plot would work. I'm sorry it didn't do more for you but I'm grateful for your insight on it! I think I'll pass on this one for now, Sopia sounds like she'd frustrate me quite a bit, especially how you mention that she changes herself for Bernard and that you were bored with her in the middle there! Great review ^^

    ReplyDelete
  20. This book made me feel so uncomfortable, but I think that was intended. I didn't have as many qualms as you did but I can totally understand your points of frustration. I also wasn't as familiar with the original fairytale.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I really appreciate it and I will return the favor as soon as possible.