Vertigoby Lauren Baratz-Logsted
In turn-of-the-century London, an exemplary Victorian wife begins a noble-minded project: writing letters to a lonely local prisoner. What happens next in this brilliantly crafted novel of literary suspense will change Emma Smith’s life forever—and ignite a dark, erotic drama of suspicion, loss, and awakening.
In the year 1898, Emma makes a New
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Vertigo is not a typical historical romance by any stretch of the imagination. Rather, it cannot be labeled at all because the basic plot transcends many genres. It is a psychological thriller, erotic, and quite frankly, very good literary fiction. Ms. Baratz-Logsted has created rich, fascinating characters in Emma, John, and Chance, as well as a cast of off-beat supporting foils such as Timmins the not so typical butler and Constance, the not so typical shrinking violet of that era. This book is rich in detail...the words are so visual you are right in the middle of the scene all of your senses are involved...it is almost like staring at a painting at times. And I defy anyone to guess the ending, which is the best part. The suspense that builds slowly throughout is masterful, beginning at page one...the prologue itself is chilling and will set the reader on the edge of his/her chair as we wonder what fate has befallen the narrator. I could sense impending disaster...and yet...I wasn't sure. I entertained many scenarios as I read on, which was wonderful because while the author gives us some hints, the many twists and turns...done brilliantly...had me repeatedly shaking my head saying 'No, that's not it...that can't be what happens'...all I know is I could not put this book down until I found out what was in store for these characters. The book is written in first person, which I personally adore having read Catcher in the Rye as a child -- it's the book which made me want to be a writer myself -- and said first person narrator was the perfect choice for this book. Trust me, from the opening chapter you are in the mind of Emma...you are with her in every room you are reading her lover's letters with her...you experience her every emotion. The erotic nature of the book was handled in an extremely sexy, graphic way and yet the most graphic details are not thrown in the reader's face, as with most of the book, we are left to our imaginations which is way sexier. What is especially interesting to me is how this book illustrates the intimate nature of the written word. While it takes place in Victorian times, it very well could have been written as a modern novel with characters who meet and correspond on the internet and fall in love via email exchange without ever having met in the 'real world'...something which seems to be a usual occurrence these days and will have many readers both smiling and shuddering as perhaps they see themselves in Emma and Chance. All of the above is what makes this book such a winner. The reader must think and analyze throughout, in between admiring this author for her writing style and skills...yet taken at face value without analyzing, it still makes for a quick, fascinating read which will grab both lovers of light fiction and those who want a more challenging, literary read. I know first hand how difficult it is to create a work that manages to do both, and I applaud Lauren Baratz-Logsted for her ability to do so. And again, the build-up of suspense from chapter to chapter is just amazing. I cannot recommend this book enough.
On New Year's Eve, 1898, spoiled Emma Smith resolves to be a better more understanding person especially of the less fortunate. Researching prison life for a novel, her husband John Smith recommends she considers corresponding with one of the convicts. She agrees and writes a letter to Chance Wood, an inmate of Hallowood serving a life sentence for killing his spouse.------------ Chance surprises Emma by responding to her note. Soon they exchange letters and she begins to believe that she is a prisoner in a gilded cage she also concludes that Chance treats her like an intelligent human while John sees her as his ornament. When Queen Victoria frees ¿sponsored¿ prisoners as a turn of the century good will gesture, Chance obtains his freedom and he goes to see Emma though he warns her to run from him. Instead they begin a tryst and develop a plan to kill John.-------------- None of the three characters making up the triangle are empathetic as each in their own way is extremely selfish yet their relationshps make for a fine late Victroian thriller as the audience wonders who will be the last one standing. The story line is character driven as Emma finds excitement and freedom in the obviously dangerous Chance and compares that with imprisonment as an trinket owned by John. Though the spousal ¿incareration¿ musings by Emma become a teduus rationalization, fans of historical dramas will want to read this insightful period piece.------------- Harriet Klausner