Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Night's Dark Shade

Do you long for a spoonful of sugar when studying the bitter medicine of history? If you do, then Elena Maria Vidal's new novel, The Night's Dark Shade, will supply it.

While learning about the Albigensian Crusades in 13th-century France, thrill to the descriptions of 17-year-old Lady Raphaelle's romantic encounters with a handsome Hospitaller Knight of the Order of St. John, Martin de Revel-Saissac, with breath like "spiced wine" and garments that emanate the "mingled scents of clove and calamus from Jerusalem".

Raphaelle's amorous feelings for Martin do not change when she agrees, out of a sense of duty to her people, to marry the nobleman Sir Jacques. By then she has already escaped from the castle of her uncle where she had journeyed to marry her cousin! The castle turned out to be a stronghold of the Cathars, who believe that sex and marriage are an abomination. Will she marry Bachelor #1, Bachelor #2, or Bachelor #3? Or go to the convent?!

Amidst all the turmoil, the story examines the role of romantic love in finding a suitable mate. Yes, romance is a wondrous thing, but what are the beloved's intentions? Is he "dallying" with your affection? This book is a fabulous stepping stone for mother-daughter, heart-to-heart discussions. At the same time you learn all about the Albigensian heresy and will recognize parts of it in today's culture.

I highly recommend it for mature teens and all people who don't mind staying up til midnight to finish a rousing good, solidly Catholic story.

In this interview by Catherine Delors, Elena Maria Vidal gives the background of the story.


elena maria vidal said...

Thank you for the wonderful review, Wendy! I am delighted you enjoyed the book!

Wendy Haught said...

Oh, we did enjoy it tremendously! Thank you for writing it. I read it aloud to Emma one evening, and she went from being half asleep to leaning forward eagerly with both hands clasped in front. I laughed every time I glanced over at her.

Emily G. said...

I need to buy this book-I don't know why I've waited so long. I think your review has pushed me to the point of pulling out my credit card. :)

Matterhorn said...

I loved EMV's other novels and am looking forward to reading this one, too.

Wendy Haught said...

Dear Matterhorn,

Emma and I love her other books as well, especially Trianon!

Nicholas said...

Just a quick comment here: the Hospitallers or Knights of St. John were a military religious order, so I am a little surprised that the author chose to center a romance around a warrior-monk. Don't get me wrong, I greatly love and admire the military religious orders, especially the Templars, Hospitallers, and Teutonic Knights. But the young lady in question wouldn't have had much choice as far as marrying the Hospitaller. Of course, I haven't read the book, so I don't know if he returns her affections, or how it works out, but I was a little surprised. I'm curious now too. :)

Wendy Haught said...

Dear Nicholas,

Everything you said is true. Shall I send you the book?

Nicholas said...

Dear Mrs. Haught,
Thank you for your offer. I wouldn't have much time to read the book now, but after school is over for the year I would certainly like to read it. Maybe when we see each other at ordinations?

Wendy Haught said...

Dear Nicholas,

I will bring you a copy of The Night's Dark Shade and also Trianon.