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Green Darkness by Anya Seton

Green Darkness (edition 2005)

by Anya Seton

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8652610,312 (3.81)68
Title:Green Darkness
Authors:Anya Seton
Info:Chicago Review Press (2005), Paperback, 608 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Time Travel, Romance, England, Tudors, Elizabeth I, King Edward, Queen Mary, 16th Century, Historical Fiction

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Green Darkness by Anya Seton


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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Reincarnation provides the path to time-travel in this classic gothic tale of historical romance. The new, happy marriage of Celia and Richard Marsdon seems to have fallen apart since they have returned to his ancestral home. Richard has withdrawn and Celia is feeling haunted and anxious. When she has a nervous collapse then becomes catatonic, Dr. Akananda makes a remarkable claim: Celia must resolve the trauma of a previous live or she will die. Celia's consciousness travels from 1968 to 1552, into the mind of Celia Bohun, a beautiful, orphan servant girl. In a time of religious strife, Celia Bohun fell in love with a monk, Brother Stephen Marsdon (Richard in a former life). When Brother Stephen forsakes his vows for love of Celia, he defies the laws of the church and the mores of Tudor society. Full of historical detail, intrigue, and danger, Seton draws the reader into the tale of Stephen and Celia's doomed love. The only question remaining is if Richard and Celia can set the wheel of fate and Karma back on track once the events of the past have been revealed.
  ktoonen | Sep 16, 2014 |
While browsing a library book sale, my hand was drawn to a hardcover book on the 50-cent table, its black fabric torn and shredded, title so worn it was invisible to me. I couldn't even see the author's name. But something inside said, "It's only 50 cents; buy this book!" So I threw it in my little pile of purchases. This isn't so significant until you realize that it has been my life's work to study and write about reincarnation, but I didn't know this old book even existed!

I was stunned to discover what I'd brought home--so few novels about reincarnation existed in 1993! I stayed up all night reading it. And now I own a second copy that's in a little better shape. I think it's time to read it again, which is something I almost never have time to do. ( )
  mrsdowney | Oct 17, 2013 |
I do believe I actually own a first edition of this book. I picked this up years ago at some sale or used bookstore. I really can't remember where. I was intrigued by the mystery - no summary, no cover art, interesting title, and green-edged pages. I wonder if I'll ever get around to reading it.
  __Lindsey__ | Apr 17, 2013 |
I found this book sitting all by itself on a table at a library book sale. It was the last day of the sale and everything had been quite picked over except for this gem. Needless to say I grabbed it right away.

Thank goodness for the Mt. TBR Challenge which prompted me to read those books which have been on my shelves the longest. This being one.

The novel is divided into three parts and begins during what feels like the 1970's. Celia and Richard Marsdon are a wealthy young couple recently married and living in the Marsdon family home. One evening Celia falls into a trance-like state and we find out that she is revisiting her past life in the 1500's. Her past life involves a tragic love and ending which must be resolved in order for her present to be free.

I loved this middle section and thought it was really well done. The reign of Edward the VI and his subsequent death felt really well researched and that shows in the writing. Seton explores the idea of reincarnation and atonement in an interesting way that is believable and not gimmicky.

Another winner from Seton. ( )
  MichelleCH | Apr 5, 2013 |
Rating: 3 stars out of five, but only because I still love the memory

The Book Report: The book description says:

This unforgettable story of undying love combines mysticism, suspense, mystery, and romance into a web of good and evil that stretches from 16th-century England to the present day. Richard Marsdon marries a young American woman named Celia, brings her to live at his English estate, and all seems to be going well. But now Richard has become withdrawn, and Celia is constantly haunted by a vague dread. When she suffers a breakdown and wavers between life and death, a wise doctor realizes that only by forcing Celia to relive her past can he enable her to escape her illness. Celia travels back 400 years in time to her past life as a beautiful but doomed servant. Through her eyes, we see the England of the Tudors, torn by religious strife, and experience all the pageantry, lustiness, and cruelty of the age. As in other historical romance titles by this author, the past comes alive in this flamboyant classic novel.

My Review: My sister used to have a book store. She, our mother, and I all spent the summer of 1973, damn near 40 years ago now, reading this book. We'd been stealing it back and forth from each other until finally she gave Mama and me our own copies so she could read it in peace. We did a sort of group read on the book, and oh my heck how we liked it!

I was a teenager then. I wasn't an inexperienced reader, but I was completely suckered in by anything to do with reincarnation. Mama was just getting the Jeebus infection that ate her sense of humor, compassion, and decency...all oddly enough while sexually abusing her teenaged son, funny how often religion masks corruption...and my sister was in one of the periodic hellish patches that have punctuated her road through life.

We all resonated with the travails of the characters, trying to work out their manifold interconnections and karmic debts. The book's very Gothicness was deeply appealing to each of us for our own reasons, and gave us hours and hours of fun things to talk about. For that, a whole star in grateful memory.

Rereading this at fifty-two was probably a mistake. The writing is very much what one would expect of an historical novelist whose career began in the 1940s. She was renowned in the day for her meticulous research, and yet says in her Preface (p. vi of the 1973 Houghton Mifflin hardcover I got from the liberry), “Source books make for tedious listing, but for the Tudor period {of Green Darkness} I have tried to consult all the pertinent ones.” Imagine someone, even a novelist, trying to get away with that now! There would be calumnious mutterings and sulphrous aspersions cast on the character and the ability of such an author. As if it matters in a work of fiction.

The humid Gothic atmosphere of lust and love denied, the surrendered to, then disastrously brought to a close, was a little hard on my older self. I like romantic stories just fine, but the moralizing you can keep. And there is a deal of moralizing! Whee dawggie! The gay characters are ugly...as within, so without, and Seton clearly has the attitude of her day towards gay men...the lusty lower-class wenches get their bastards and get turned out, the Catholic Church and its hypocrisy suffer agonies at the hands of the vile Protestant politicians...Seton was raised a Theosophist...good people turn hard and cold when given property to protect...the Exotic Hindu Doctor who understands Modern Medicine but Knows How to Be In Touch With the Spirits, oof!...oh, the lot!

So not so much on the attitude. I get it, and in those days I absorbed it because it was the way my family thought, but how I wish I could go back to 1973 and smack this book out of my young hands! Along with Stranger in a Strange Land, its misogyny and homophobia leached right into my brain and lodged there. Never made me one whit less gay, just made me feel terrible about it, like the culture's messages continue to do to young and impressionable kids to this day.

But the fact that the lady wrote this, her next-to-last book, when she was nearing seventy and had only just been divorced from her husband of nigh on forty years, and was beginning her long decline into ill health, makes Green Darkness a poignant re-read for me. Her life was unraveling, and mine was too (what little there was of it at that point); I think both my mother and my sister felt the same way. I suspect some resonance of that bound all of us to this book and spoke to each of us about its unhappy people in unhappy lives. There is, in the best romantic tradition, a happy ending. But I for one have never believed it. ( )
2 vote richardderus | Aug 15, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
I read this when it was first published and was blown away. One of the few books that I was unable to finish without a lump in my throat and tears hindering me from reading the last pages.
added by ditchdiggergirl | editLocal Library, Ditchdiggergirl (Apr 30, 2010)
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In the ancient manor of Medfield Place in Sussex there is a huge vellum-bound book containing entries made by the Marsdon family from A.D. 1430 until September 15, 1967, when the death of Sir Charles Marsdon is noted.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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ISBN 085456571X is for the Reader's Digest condensed [abridged] version of the book. Do Not combine with the book that contains the complete story.

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When Celia Marsdon and her husband Richard visit his family's hereditary manor of Medfield Place in Sussex, she begins to relive the experiences of an earlier Celia. In a parallel tale, Celia de Bohun has a love affair with Stephen Maisdon, a priest in 1552, that leads to heartbreak and tragedy.… (more)

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