Monday, May 31

Book Review: A Sicilian Romance

Title: A Sicilian Romance

Author: Ann Radcliffe

Pages: 209

Summary: In a Sicilian Romance (1790) Radcliffe began to forge the unique mixture of the psychology of terror and poetic description of that would make her the great exemplar of the Gothic novel, and the idol of the Romantics.

This early novel explores the cavernous landscapes and labyrinthine passages of Sicily's castles and convents to reveal the shameful secrets of its all-powerful aristocracy. Julia and Emilia Mazzini live secluded in an ancient mansion near the straits of Messina. After their father's return to the island a neglected part of the house is haunted by mysterious sights and sounds. When revelation of the origin of these hauntings finally comes, it forces the heroines to challenge the united forces of religious and patriarchal authority.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This story is a wonderful example of Gothic literature. I really enjoyed Radcliffe’s style and how she set up the setting in for the whole story, she was able to make me see and feel how the world around the characters looked, the dark cathedral and the twists and turns they all took as the searched it for the “ghost.” The way the author voiced the story, was my favourite part of the whole novel. I almost wished it was thunder storming out as I was reading it, just to make it that much better.

The overall story was also well done. Although a little typical in some aspects as a lot of the stories back then (love triangles, good man versus evil man, trying to win the heart of beautiful woman, who wants nothing to do with evil man, but family wants evil man’s status etc). But even in that aspect, I think Radcliffe handled it well, so you weren’t to bothered by reading the same story you’ve read before.

I didn’t like the characters themselves that much. Which is the only real problem I seemed to have with the book (the ending was the second issue, a little to tied up for me, I was hoping for something different, maybe more depressing, to go with the rest of the novel.). But the characters just didn’t reach me. I don’t have a favourite, and there wasn’t really one particular character I hated either. All were just there. But the story itself, the themes in it makes up for that. I will look forward to reading more by the author in the future.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes I think I would, especially if you enjoy Gothic Literature/Themed books, or 18th century stories. It was well written and well told. Not that strong of characters, but the writing and storytelling are wonderful!

What to read next: I'd definitely try more of Rancliffe's novels. She was a talented author, and I really enjoyed her gothic tale. I'd also say focus on more books in gothic literature area.

Challenges: Read 'n' Review Challenge, Pages Read, 18th and 19th Century Women Writers, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, Centuries Challenge, RYOB Challenge,
Typically British Challenge,

NOTE: Although I wrote this review on June 13, 2010. This is actually an old review from May. So it counts towards May Reviews. I think (if I did it right) I have the date so it is "posted" for May 31, 2010. But it will appear in readers etc as June. Just letting you know. Also will be explaining my "disappearance" in my May wrap up.


  1. Though it sounds as if you liked it, I get the impression that you didn't love it. I do like gothic novels, so I might give it a try, but I will be keeping your comments in mind if I do. Thanks!

  2. Great review, Jules! This book title sounds familiar, but I don't know if I knew what it was about.

  3. Zibilee - I didn't love it, but it was an enjoyable gothic read. I think some of her other books will likely be better.

    Rebecca - It is on a lot of must read lists, maybe that's where you saw it?