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I finished The Mysteries of Udolpho a few days ago and then read the Introduction. I always read the Introduction after I've finished the book because they're notorious plot spoilers. I was sorry to finish Udolpho because I loved it and then the Introduction spoilt it for me by pointing out all the book's faults. I know it wasn't perfect but I was cheering when it all worked out for Emily and Valancourt. The pirates in the sealed castle wing was probably a bit silly as was the nun wandering a night with her flute(?) and not forgetting the horror behind the veil in Castle Udolpho that was not revealed for a few hundred pages. But for all it's faults, I found Udolpho a great read and I did skip the poetry as I found it too distracting. It was a lengthy book that took me a few weeks to read but at least I didn't need the dictionary next to me. The ending was a surprise for me, I thought I'd worked out the 'mystery' but I got it wrong.
I think my general reactions were rather like yours, socialpages. I found the romance between Emily and Valancourt moving and was delighted to see it all works out in the end. I thought the novel was slightly atmospheric but that the plot was somewhat disjointed and anti-climactic. I felt kind of let down when I found out Montoni died off screen, not that he was sympathetic but his death let a lot of the tension out of the novel with a good hundred pages to go. I kept hoping he had faked his death and would reappear for one final showdown with Emily.
It also seemed a bit contrived that some of the things that were mysteries were only so because people neglected to share information. I think that works much better in a comedy than in a drama. I have to admit, by the end I had sort of given up feeling invested in the mysteries and was just happy to see everything end well.
What fun! A long (600+) book, but so much fun. Written in the late 1700s, this book is a sweeping gothic romance, with poetry, sweeping poetic landscapes, a thwarted love affair, evil step-uncles, secrets (some even kept from the reader but known by the protagonist, our dear Emily!), ghosts, castles, Carnivale in Venice......come on, now....who can resist all this? Due to a couple of extraneous tangents in the plot, which I felt were completely unnecessary, I only give out four stars. It was not particularly profound, but boy, oh boy, was it fun?!
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