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The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell
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The Vespertine (edition 2012)

by Saundra Mitchell

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3205452,293 (3.68)5
Member:lcrow
Title:The Vespertine
Authors:Saundra Mitchell
Info:Graphia (2012), Paperback, 320 pages
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The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

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In 19th century New England, Amelia van den Broek is sent to live with her cousin Zora and Zora's family in Baltimore, Maryland. Originally from a small town in Maine, Amelia is in awe of everything about the big city. With her arrival to this strange and wondrous city, she begins to experience visions at sunset. Her visions become in vogue, making Amelia the "go-to girl" who offers prophecies to the young people of Baltimore's upper society, but things soon spiral out of control. The Vespertine is a gothic tale that offers plenty of otherworldly romance and charm. Marissa B. / Marathon County Public Library
Find this book in our library catalog. ( )
  mcpl.wausau | Sep 25, 2017 |
Once I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down. To be fair, I have a soft spot for period fiction. I love reading about the mannerisms and the social interactions from the past. Seeing how much we've changed, but yet not changed has always been fascinating to me, so when I read that the book was based in the 1800s I knew that I was in for a treat.

The story follows Amelia, who has an odd power to see the future at sunset. Her brother sent her from their home in Maine to live with cousins in Baltimore so she could find a suitable match. However, she ends up falling for a man her brother would not approve of and getting into a lot of mischief along the way.

Amelia and her cousin, Zora, are quite likable. Their friends are quickly introduced and, with the exception of Sarah and Mattie, we don't find out a lot about them. It would have been wonderful to read more of their relationship with their friends and acquaintances. However, we do see a lot of Thomas and Nathaniel, as well as the whirlwind romance as the two court their ladies.

I cannot deny that I wished there were more pages to this book. I love the way Saundra described the period and the way the girls pushed the limits of their time. I loved the interactions and insight into how society worked with its rules and etiquette, as well as the parallels that could be drawn with society today. I loved the paranormal twist to the story and the fast paced ending . The Vespertine was a lovely tale, that left me wanting more.

[review of arc via netgalley] ( )
  iShanella | Dec 2, 2016 |
Amelia is sent by her brother to Baltimore to catch a husband. In Baltimore she stays with her cousin Zora. While in Baltimore the two girls quickly gain fame when Amelia begins having visions of the future. Amelia has some trepidation about these visions although she is distracted from it all by Nathaniel an artist she meets at a family party that is below the standing, however she can't seem to keep herself from wanting him.

It took me a long time to figure out how I felt about this book. There were a lot of things about it that drove me crazy. Mainly I felt like certain parts of the plot were just glossed over, and there was one point I'm still kind of confused about regarding Nathaniel, particularly the ending. (I'm not going to go into detail because I don't want to spoil anything for anybody.) Those are the gripes, now onto the good stuff.

I absolutely adored the writing style and ambiance. While it was written in a standard prose style there was something very poetic about the writing. Even the simplest of descriptions sounds absolutely gorgeous. The beauty of the language is just absolutely entrancing. My favorite descriptions were of her visions, particularly the happy ones. When Amelia has a vision, she experiences it as though it were happening to her; the happy scenes are lovely and moving. The sad and painful ones are down right gut wrenching and painful, especially when they are for someone Amelia likes or loves.

The language definitely contributed to the ambiance the book has. (Although I feel like I don't have the right kind of language to describe it.) At the opening of the book we actually start at the end, when Amelia has returned home from her adventures in Baltimore. The despair that she feels over the outcomes can be felt in every word. You feel for Amelia and how for her the sun will never shine again. Then we switch to Baltimore and Amelia's initial arrival. You feel her excitement and nervousness and it's a sharp contrast to the despair the novel opens with. Through out the book we go back and forth and I think this serves to heighten the tension in the novel, because you already know it will go wrong and just how bad it will really be. ( )
  Rosa.Mill | Nov 21, 2015 |
Amelia is sent by her brother to Baltimore to catch a husband. In Baltimore she stays with her cousin Zora. While in Baltimore the two girls quickly gain fame when Amelia begins having visions of the future. Amelia has some trepidation about these visions although she is distracted from it all by Nathaniel an artist she meets at a family party that is below the standing, however she can't seem to keep herself from wanting him.

It took me a long time to figure out how I felt about this book. There were a lot of things about it that drove me crazy. Mainly I felt like certain parts of the plot were just glossed over, and there was one point I'm still kind of confused about regarding Nathaniel, particularly the ending. (I'm not going to go into detail because I don't want to spoil anything for anybody.) Those are the gripes, now onto the good stuff.

I absolutely adored the writing style and ambiance. While it was written in a standard prose style there was something very poetic about the writing. Even the simplest of descriptions sounds absolutely gorgeous. The beauty of the language is just absolutely entrancing. My favorite descriptions were of her visions, particularly the happy ones. When Amelia has a vision, she experiences it as though it were happening to her; the happy scenes are lovely and moving. The sad and painful ones are down right gut wrenching and painful, especially when they are for someone Amelia likes or loves.

The language definitely contributed to the ambiance the book has. (Although I feel like I don't have the right kind of language to describe it.) At the opening of the book we actually start at the end, when Amelia has returned home from her adventures in Baltimore. The despair that she feels over the outcomes can be felt in every word. You feel for Amelia and how for her the sun will never shine again. Then we switch to Baltimore and Amelia's initial arrival. You feel her excitement and nervousness and it's a sharp contrast to the despair the novel opens with. Through out the book we go back and forth and I think this serves to heighten the tension in the novel, because you already know it will go wrong and just how bad it will really be. ( )
  Rosa.Mill | Nov 21, 2015 |
Amelia is sent by her brother to Baltimore to catch a husband. In Baltimore she stays with her cousin Zora. While in Baltimore the two girls quickly gain fame when Amelia begins having visions of the future. Amelia has some trepidation about these visions although she is distracted from it all by Nathaniel an artist she meets at a family party that is below the standing, however she can't seem to keep herself from wanting him.

It took me a long time to figure out how I felt about this book. There were a lot of things about it that drove me crazy. Mainly I felt like certain parts of the plot were just glossed over, and there was one point I'm still kind of confused about regarding Nathaniel, particularly the ending. (I'm not going to go into detail because I don't want to spoil anything for anybody.) Those are the gripes, now onto the good stuff.

I absolutely adored the writing style and ambiance. While it was written in a standard prose style there was something very poetic about the writing. Even the simplest of descriptions sounds absolutely gorgeous. The beauty of the language is just absolutely entrancing. My favorite descriptions were of her visions, particularly the happy ones. When Amelia has a vision, she experiences it as though it were happening to her; the happy scenes are lovely and moving. The sad and painful ones are down right gut wrenching and painful, especially when they are for someone Amelia likes or loves.

The language definitely contributed to the ambiance the book has. (Although I feel like I don't have the right kind of language to describe it.) At the opening of the book we actually start at the end, when Amelia has returned home from her adventures in Baltimore. The despair that she feels over the outcomes can be felt in every word. You feel for Amelia and how for her the sun will never shine again. Then we switch to Baltimore and Amelia's initial arrival. You feel her excitement and nervousness and it's a sharp contrast to the despair the novel opens with. Through out the book we go back and forth and I think this serves to heighten the tension in the novel, because you already know it will go wrong and just how bad it will really be. ( )
  Rosa.Mill | Nov 21, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0547482477, Hardcover)

It's the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him.

When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia's world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she's not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.

 

Q&A with Saundra Mitchell

Q: Historical fiction meets paranormal romance in your newest book, The Vespertine. This is a bit of a departure from your last book, Shadowed Summer, which was more of a mystery/thriller. Where did you get the idea for The Vespertine and why did you decide to make the switch?

Mitchell: If I'd managed to write my original version of The Vespertine, it would have been a lot more like Shadowed Summer! It started out as another contemporary southern gothic novel--still about a girl who could see the future in the sunset. Her prophecies were supposed to set off a chain of modern-day Salem Witch Trials. It was definitely meant to be a thriller.

I got about sixty pages into it, and it just didn't work. So I tried moving the same idea to a still-contemporary boarding school in Maine. I only got about 30 pages into that. I was starting to think it was just a bad idea, and I should move on.

Shortly after abandoning version two, my best friend and I watched the new BBC adaptation of Wuthering Heights. And then suddenly, I had a first scene in my head--Amelia van den Broek, half-mad, returning to her ancestral home in the dead of night, and being locked in an attic by her furious brother. I have to admit, I intended for someone in The Vespertine to be a serial killer--right up until the third chapter, I still thought I was writing a thriller. Then said character decided he'd rather be a painter, and the rest is paranormal romance!

Q: Did you always know you wanted to write for young adults? What do you enjoy the most about it?

Mitchell: Writing YA novels is actually my second writing career--my day job is screenwriting and producing. For fifteen years, I've worked with Dreaming Tree Films on various teen filmmaking programs. I've written screenplays based on teen ideas, and have seen at least four of the young screenwriters I have taught go on to careers in film! It's extraordinary to me how talented, and how dedicated, teens are--and I love the richness and rawness of their emotions and their experiences. Everyone's so passionate and so real.

And now it's an extraordinary pleasure to write books for teens, and connect with them directly, author to reader. I didn't grow up thinking that I wanted to write for young adults--but my whole life has been dedicated to doing just that. I wouldn't want to write for anyone else.

Q: The city of Baltimore in the late 1800s, where The Vespertine takes place, offers a rich and dynamic historical backdrop for your story. Were you always interested in Victorian Baltimore? Why did you choose to set your story there?

Mitchell: Once I realized The Vespertine would be a historical novel, I knew it had to be set in Baltimore. The city has a great history--their soldiers fought in the American Revolution, then in the Civil War, the city offered up both Union and Confederate troops. Francis Scott Key wrote "The Star Spangled Banner" about a flag that yet waved over Baltimore's Fort McHenry. Edgar Allen Poe died there, as dissolute as any gothic hero. And Baltimore is also home to one of the first free public libraries in the United States.

Since I wanted to write about middle class girls, I wanted to set the novel in an integrated city. Baltimore has had a free black middle class for three hundred years, neighborhoods that overlap, people from a myriad of cultures and backgrounds working and playing together. It's a major world port, and a working-class city.

Other people have done more than enough justice to the white elite upper class in Gilded-Age New York. With The Vespertine, I wanted to explore the kind of American city that many of the rest of us came from. The fact that Baltimore has fabulous parks and monuments and architecture to set beautiful scenes didn't hurt, either.

Q: Amelia, the book’s protagonist, leads a very different life than most young girls of today; however, a lot of the things that she experiences--friendships, romance, social class issues--have not changed much over the last 100 years! What can a sixteen-year-old girl of today take from Amelia’s experiences?

Mitchell: I know when I was sixteen, I was a lot like Amelia--I didn't know who I was, or what I really wanted. I just wanted my life to be exciting, so a lot of times, I just went along.

Amelia definitely goes along--telling fortunes to get popular, not actually her idea. Sneaking to see Nathaniel in Annapolis, also not her idea. But even though she didn't actively make those choices, those choices have a huge impact on her life and the lives of everyone around her. Amelia ultimately has to own up to the fact that not deciding her own fate is still a decision.

I really feel like this is a book about making a transition from being someone that things happen to, to becoming someone who makes things happen. And I think young women today still need to be reassured that they are their own person, they have agency to make decisions, and they should be the heroes of their own stories!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:00 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

It's the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions that offer glimpses of the future. When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia's world is thrown into chaos.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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