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Strands of Bronze and Gold Hardcover – March 12, 2013
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When 17-year-old Sophia’s father dies, she is sent from Boston to Wyndriven Abbey, the Mississippi plantation of her godfather, Monsieur Bernard de Cressac. There, Sophia becomes more and more suspicious of the plantation slaves’ living and working conditions, the vine-shrouded outbuildings she is not allowed to explore, and the various treasures belonging to Bernard’s former wives, all dead, that she finds in the attic. In spite of her uneasy attraction to Bernard’s increasingly romantic intentions, Sophia finds herself falling for Gideon Stone, the local minister who also has the quiet reputation among the slaves of assisting in escapes to the North. With nods to such classics as Rebecca and Gone with the Wind and a setting that may draw Downton Abbey fans, first-time novelist Nickerson adds a strictly American spin to her version of the Bluebeard fairy tale. With headstrong Sophia, handsome rake Monsieur de Cressac, and sweet, courageous Reverend Stone wrapped in a romantic love triangle; the glamorous Mississippi plantation as a cover for the somewhat sanitized horrors of slavery; and an increasingly obvious murder mystery; this will beckon readers of historical fiction, romance, and mystery alike. Grades 9-12. --Frances Bradburn
USA Today "Happy Ever After", March 19, 2013:
"Even if you've never read Blue Beard's tale, you'll enjoy Strands of Bronze and Gold. Sophie is a very likable character, and readers will soon find themselves caught up in the intrigue and mystery right along with her...I'm glad, too, that Sophie was no shy submissive heroine. She's brave, intelligent and looks through the glamour. The Mirk and Midnight Hour is set to release in March 2014 and is about the legend of the Ballad of Tam Lin. The writing is excellent, and the setting is very Gothic and dark. Just my style!"
Publishers Weekly, February 4, 3013:
"Nickerson makes smart use of a lush, eerie antebellum Mississippi setting to add tension...Although the book moves leisurely, it effectively blends the fairytale world with the realities of Sophia’s powerlessness: she’s underage, impoverished, and female. All of which makes her luck, determination, and eventual triumph all the more rewarding."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February 2013:
"Elegant prose and vivid imagery give this gothic retelling of Perrault’s 'Bluebeard' an exquisite sense of place; the descriptions of the lavish rooms of the seemingly endless estate are entrancing, while the hints of unease—a name scratched in a bedpost, old paintings found in the attic, a decrepit chapel in the estate’s cemetery—keep the tension mounting."
Booklist, March 1, 2013:
"With nods to such classics as Rebecca and Gone with the Wind and a setting that may draw Downton Abbey fans, first-time novelist Nickerson adds a strictly American spin to her version of the Bluebeard fairy tale. With headstrong Sophia, handsome rake Monsieur de Cressac, and sweet, courageous Reverend Stone wrapped in a romantic love triangle; the glamorous Mississippi plantation as a cover for the somewhat sanitized horrors of slavery; and the increasingly obvious murder mystery; this will beckon readers of historical fiction, romance, and mystery alike."
School Library Journal, March 2013:
"Nickerson makes a strong debut with this suspenseful reimagining of the Bluebeard legend that seamlessly weaves together elements of fairy tale, gothic romance, and pre-Civil War-era American history. Fans of Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy will delight in this gorgeously atmospheric page-turner."
SLJ Teen, February 5, 2013:
"Jane Nickerson adroitly weaves the threads of the 'Bluebeard' story into Strands of Bronze and Gold to create a spellbinding tapestry of mystery, romance, and suspense...A grippingly gothic tale, with a lavishly described and lushly atmospheric setting and likable heroine."
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I love retellings, and even though I had never heard of "Bluebeard", I was excited to read this, especially once I had finally read the story.
Right off the bat, there is an uneasy air about the book. I felt uncomfortable once Bernard was introduced. Not because he was unkind, but he was too familiar with the character and friendly. Once he started making requests for her to dress in certain clothes, I knew that he was going to be controlling and where this would eventually end up.
As the book went on, I became more and more emotionally connected to Sophie and everything she felt, I did also. Once she [ became uneasy about Bernard, that's when things really became spooky for me. I was always unsure of what was going to happen and I worried about her.
Sophie was a great lead. She reminded me of Marianne in "Sense and Sensibility" in a way. I will say she did seem a little naive at times, but it didn't make me want to throw the book like I've wanted to do with others.
The historical aspect of the book is lovely. I really love southern historical fiction and the way the house (or more like castle) is described makes me want more.
Once we got to the end of the book, even though what was going to happen was predictable because I read the fairy tale, seemed quite rushed and I felt like it could have gone on for another page or so just to make it feel like it wasn't just thrown together so the story could end.
The "epilogue" of sorts is very beautiful. I really adored that ending and it made me forgive the rushed feel of the previous chapter.
Even though I loved it, I do have some problems with it. Sometimes, I felt like the book didn't really flesh out some of the characters or situations. I can't really pinpoint why I felt that way or examples because I felt like it was throughout the book. With that said, I am very happy to have read this book and recommend it for historical fiction fans and fairy tale retelling fans alike because it was enjoyable.
If you like fairy tale retellings, you'll enjoy it. :)