Literature Meme- 4/10 Prose
A Bloodsmoor Romance, by Joyce Carol Oates
Alas, to be gifted with the semblance of omniscience, in thus recording the history of the Zinn family, yet not with omnipotence!- for though I forsee the numerous vicissitudes of fortune, and the several tragedies, that lie ahead for Constance Philippa and her sisters, I cannot of course guide their destinies.
This book is the chronicle of a well-off (though not quite well-off enough) American family in the late 1800s. The narrator (a celibate maiden, as she continues to remind us whenever her natural feminine frailties interfere with the telling of the story) would like to extract from them a tale of moral inspiration and instruction, but how can she? While the Transcendentalist father and thoroughly respectable mother are beyond reproach, the lives of their five daughters shock her sensibilities. There’s Deirdre, the adopted malcontent abducted by a black outlaw balloon. There’s Constance Philippa, whose discomfort in her own body leads to a surreal transformation. There’s Malvinia, cruel and beautiful, with those strange urges that continue to interfere with her love life. There’s Samantha, the young inventor always subordinate to her father’s will- until suddenly she isn’t. And poor Octavia, the kindest and most obedient child, suffers such hardships- so many mysterious accidents befall those close to her, despite her best efforts to love and obey them as a good woman should!
A Bloodsmoor Romance is a gothic fantasia, and the tale that emerges could be described as “Little Women gone to hell.” The adventures of the Zinn daughters shock and sometimes delight the reader (though frequently at the opposite times as the narrator!) This dense and delicately-told book is packed with the grotesque and bizarre, and is ultimately a romance in the truest sense of the word.