I don't know why I thought I would like this book when it's a retelling of the Bluebeard fairytale which is a very disturbing story. Perhaps Jane Nickerson's novel Strands of Bronze and Gold can be enjoyed by others, but this book just rubbed me the wrong way for a lot of reasons. I'm also really ashamed that I already didn't listen to my 2015 resolutions and forced myself to finish this book!
The basic premise of the story is that Sophia goes to live with her creepy Godfather after her father dies and she learns that he has had four wives-- one divorced and three dead-- all with red hair just like her. Instead of getting the eff out of there immediately Sophia decides to stay and the rest of the fairytale retelling unravels from there.
The major problem I had with this novel was that it was too long. There were a lot of chapters that were just so boring because Sophia was trapped at the abbey with her ruthless Godfather. She basically did nothing all day, so I think this story would have been better if Nickerson wrote it as either a novella or a short story. Having chapters and chapters of Sophia sitting around sewing or riding her horse did nothing to move the story. Another thing I didn't like was that Sophia was just so stupid. She could have gotten away earlier but she chose to stay and ignored all the warning signs that were staring her in the face. My mind was screaming, "Pedophile!" when we first meet Bernard that I just wanted to shake this stupid girl. I thought that she was also really materialistic and it made me harder to connect with and even like her character.
I understand that Nickerson grew up in Mississippi, but I don't know why she chose to tell this story in the pre-civil war south. Due to this the story had this underground railroad subplot that didn't do much for the overall theme of the novel. It also painted Sophia as the white savior and the story really didn't need that trope since she didn't really do anything! I don't know understand why anyone would want to romanticize one of the darkest times in American history. Maybe I would have liked the book better had she chose not to write it during this time period or used this literacy trope.
So it's clear that I wasn't a fan of this book. It just rubbed me the wrong way, but the good thing I can take away from it was that the writing was really lovely and descriptive in certain parts. The research of the clothing and societal viewpoints was rather good, but it didn't make me like the book any better.