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Ziska Paperback – January 14, 2010
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The story revolves around the mysterious Princess Ziska, who captivates the set of European tourists who are escaping their continent's harsh winter, in exotic Egypt. In particular, she draws three men towards her--Denzil Murray, a Scottish highlander; Armand Gervase, a French painter; and Dr. Maxwell Dean, an English historian and Egyptologist--for very different reasons.
During a costume ball, she comes as her namesake, Ziska-Charmazel, a woman who lived during the reign of Amenhotep. At this point it becomes clear that she has a diabolical agenda that involves one of these three men--her Twin Soul, the reincarnation of Araxes, a great Egyptian warrior and lover of Ziska-Charmazel.
Corelli tells this tale beautifully. The foreshadowing is excellent and the pace never lags. She keeps the reader in total suspense until the ending--which is proper, as "Ziska" is a mystery story (with some juicy horror elements). Unlike her more well-known reincarnation romance, "The Life Everlasting", which had a perfectly predictable ending (not necessarily a bad thing), "Ziska" has a conclusion that is anybody's guess.
It may _still_ be anybody's guess. Though this novel was written only a mere century or so ago, it is dedicated to the present incarnation of Araxes. Where _he_ is, there Ziska-Charmazel shall also be. It's a nice, spooky thought.
While only 155 pages long, Ziska is filled with hints, suggestions, ideas, and symbolism. A reader encounters feminism and female sexuality, arguments against the upper class, questions about the definition of love, questions about life and death and the presence or lack of presence of an afterlife, and in the end, is filled with the desire to make amends for any wrongs she/he has accidentally or intentionally perpetrated upon other people. Even with all of this, or perhaps because of all this, the story remains cohesive, maintaining the attention of the reader throughout. This is certainly aided by the fact that the story is set in a place that has an intrigue and mystery of its own - Egypt. With the ancient pyramids, hidden tombs, hidden treasure, and secret entrances, this story easily fits with many of the trends in current literature. As Dr. Curt Herr, writer of the introduction tells the reader, Ziska was a best-seller in 1897, right along side Bram Stoker's Dracula, and Richard Marsh's The Beetle. Upon reading Ziska, it is easy to see why.
The plot of Ziska takes place in the British society's "Season" in Cairo. According to Corelli, t is just the same as the London Season, only with slightly looser morals, giving the greater opportunity to find husbands for daughters past their prime on the marriage market. The Princess Ziska has appeared on the scene, and taken this tight community by storm. Nothing is known about her, except that she is unusually beautiful and has stolen the hearts of all the young men, the Scottish laird Denzil Murray in particular. When Murray's best friend, the famous French painter Armand Gervase, arrives in Cairo, complications arise. Gervase immediately falls for Ziska, makes no pretense that he (unlike Murray) does not have pure intentions, and feels that he knows her from somewhere.
Murray's mentor and friend, Dr. Maxwell Dean acts as the mouthpiece for Corelli's unconvetional spiritual beliefs, and through him the reader begins to see that there is something not quite human and Ziska and that she and Gervase are somehow destined to be together.
A good portion of this novel is given over to soliloquy in which Corelli expresses her opinion about various things. The first 21 pages, for example, are a roast of the British tourist in Egypt, and of how said tourist wants to make all foreign lands into another version of England.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This novel was not what I expected. Well, I bought it, well, I didn't pay for it, I got it because it's free. I needed something to read. Read morePublished on June 15, 2013 by Emily Dickenson
Marie Corelli was a highly popular writer of sensational novels in the Victorian era. She combined high melodrama with an attempt to reconcile Christianity with reincarnation,... Read morePublished on March 12, 2011 by Gypsi Phillips Bates
My mother read this book in the mid 1930's and told me about it. I was surprised how well this book kept me interested and finished reading it in one weekend.Published on May 11, 2010 by Zitajolie A. Steglich
Considered as one of her best fantasies, this fine tale of erotic horrors, transmigration of the soul and reincarnations from ancient Egypt culminates with a breathtaking climax in... Read morePublished on October 3, 2005 by Queen of Cups