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Dandelions In The Garden Paperback – December 7, 2009
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"The tale has a vicious bite, and the characters remain in place - to watch if you will die." --Brown Brush Books
From the Author
As of March 4, 2011 an updated version of Dandelions in the Garden is available and all orders will be filled with the newly released edition. The original text has been re-released with brand new cover art, author note, sneak peek at the sequel, and proofed by Editor, Robert Helle. I'm very excited about the improvements and hope readers will continue to enjoy my stories.
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The novel (Part One of a two-part series) is told from the point of view of an entirely fictional Amara Borbala, a lady-in-waiting to thirteen-year-old Elizabeth Bathory from the age of eleven in 1573 through present-day 1628. Amara decides to tell the story of Elizabeth to John Drugeth, the nineteen-year-old son of Elizabeth's daughter Kate and son-in-law George Homannay Drugeth before his impending marriage.
Elizabeth's infidelity while engaged to her husband, her subsequent marriage, and numerous affairs are explored in an effort to possibly explain her behavior later on. Ms. Courtland's theories explain Elizabeth's mistreatment of servant girls better than the standard blood-bathing/sadomasochistic obsession that most authors accept at face value. The novel ends in 1585, shortly after the birth of Elizabeth's daughter, Anna, and Elizabeth's discovery of the portrait of a certain Wallachian Prince from the previous century who may be related to the Countess.
The only criticism I have is in the editing. There are numerous spelling and grammatical errors that should have been corrected and hopefully will be in subsequent editions. I'm afraid that independent publishing companies depend on computers to be editors and phrases like "Elizabeth and I" are assumed to always be correct when it should read "Elizabeth and me" half of the time.
I still look forward to volume 2.
This novel is full of grammatical errors, to the point where there's nearly one in every sentence. There are run-ons, fragments, tense errors (sometimes tenses shift within a single sentence!), verb confusion, problems with direct objects, punctuation errors, and distracting apostrophe problems. I found the errors so distracting, it was hard to enjoy the book at all. In addition, there were errors in word usage, where words were used incorrectly or homonyms were confused. As a Creative Writing teacher, I shuddered with each new error. Certainly, the author could have found an editor; if she had one (as I supposedly bought the newer, more edited version), she should fire him/her and demand her money back!
Finally, and perhaps most annoyingly, there are quotes from Nine Inch Nails' song "Hurt" sprinkled awkwardly throughout. Every time I read one, it jarred me out of the story and made me think of the song and how unlike the story and out-of-place it was in this piece.
Overall, if you want a bodice-ripper and don't mind song lyrics and bad grammar, this is an all right book. However, if you're looking for something about the historical Bathory, read Johns' _The Countess_ instead.
A similar problem occurs with anachronistic locations. In particular, we have Lady Amara going to a coffee house in Vienna in 1628. This is only a mild problem, but the first documented coffee house in Europe was in Venice in 1644. A more serious error occurs with the excursion of the ladies (Elizabeth and Amara) with Thomas Buckley to an establishment in Vienna with a sign saying "PUB" over the door. The earliest citations of pub in the OED are from the mid-1800s. Even if this was an attempt to translate a meaningful sign, it fails miserably. Pub is short for "public house" and yet it is indicated that this establishment is a private club for members of specific interests. Lady Amara also makes frequent use of anachronistic terms in her thought expressions; a minor issue perhaps, but it breaks the mood.
Finally, this book lacks the necessary climax to consider it a novel. I do understand that it is the first part of a two-part series, but it still needs some partial resolution or minor climax. The title could provide a source for this but does not appear to connect in any way with the book. See Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy for an example of how this could be done. The termination of the book with Lady Amara's collapse before completing the story is highly unsatisfactory for a novel however appropriate it might be for a television series.
I will not be acquiring the second part to see how the story ends.