- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday And Company; First Edition edition (1981)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0285624938
- ISBN-13: 978-0285624931
- Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,107,803 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Long Masquerade Hardcover – 1981
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Top Customer Reviews
I'm not good at plot summaries, but it starts off when she is raised by relatives in Jamaica who arrange her marriage with an abusive man (they don't know he's unnatural, and there are no graphic details of the abuse). In one night of terror, her husband is killed and she escapes with a close friend (sort of an adopted father) on his boat. They sail from port to port trading goods, and that lasts until they are shipwrecked - and this is only a third of the way through :o). Her adopted father dies in the shipwreck, but as chance would have it she ends up being taken to England, where the plot thickens and she falls in love and lives happily until - ooh, how I wish I could spill some spoilers, but I won't. I know I haven't expounded on the romance any, but the hero (in my opinion) is the best part of the book!
I read the book in Czech so I can say nothing about the writing style in English, but I admired the heroine, I loved the hero, and the story kept me glued till the last pages with its intricate twists and gripping narrative.
The heroine is a lovely English girl, living in Jamaica, innocent and trusting--to her detriment. Her husband is an unspeakable animal whom she can't escape. After enduring months with the beast, she finally works up the courage to run away with the help of her Chinese friend Daniel. They live aboard his boat for three years in relative happiness. The only thing holding her back from contentment is the fear that her husband will somehow track her.
And so she masquerades as a coolie girl or sometimes even a boy--until she saves the life of an Englishman who changes her life. Her new persona is that of a proper English Miss, living and working with a brother and sister. Her heart is captured by the brother, but her feelings must be kept hidden due to her miserable past.
The beginning is a bit sordid, in that Emma marries a man who is a horrid beast who abuses her. When the abuse culminates during a hurricane and her actual life is in danger she manages to run away with a half chinese man (former servant, like a father to her) on his sail/steam boat. They make it look as though they die in the storm and then basically change their identities and wander the islands for three years. Emma is incognito as 'the coolie's woman', speaking creole pidgen and diving for lobsters etc. Love her pidgen!!
Without giving the plot away, she ends up in England and finally in Jamaica again. There is danger at home, danger at sea, and finally danger under the sea....
Why 4 stars?
I thought the middle of the story dragged a bit. The author allows us to see the peacefulness her life became at that juncture but I found it a bit dull.
Also, her husband at the beginning was such a jerk (think Dragonwyck but without the charm) that it was hard to enjoy the few chapters where she is married to him, and yet it was needed to lay the 'terror foundation'..
Once she is on the boat with Daniel (the chinese 'father') the excitement really kicks up and later when she comes back to Jamaica, very satisfying exciting ending! M.B. really delivers on her culminating suspense!! I can't tell you, you have to read it!
SEX: None shown to reader but marital rape/abuse was obviously an issue at the beginning.
VIOLENCE: Action violence. Some people get killed.
PROFANITY: a few very mild cusses
MY RATING: PG-13 (because of the marital abuse)