"And poor Misfortune feels the lash of Vice."
Thomson, line in Mysteries of Udolpho, Ann Radcliffe
I have now traveled with Emily from La Vallee in Gascony, France, to Toulouse, France, then from there through the Alps to Venice, Italy, then on to Udolpho in the Apennines, also in Italy. It was a long journey, most of which was melancholy and dubious, but for me as a reader enjoyable. There were moments when my eyes couldn't read fast enough for my mind. I was dying to know what was going to happen next, my eyes would try and speed up to get to the conclusion of a problem and the words would start to blur from the speed, I would have to slow them down so I could soak it in.
When I last left you Emily had just arrived home after her fathers death and was roaming around the house and grounds lonely and sad. Her aunt wrote to her that she was going to move her to Toulouse to live with her. Emily asked to stay at her home a few weeks to grieve, she didn't hear back from her aunt. She was at the little fishing cabin on her property and ran into Valancourt. He had been hanging around the property hoping to see her. She tells him of her father, he is terribly sorry, then professes his love for her and asks her to allow him to visit her the next day at her house. This makes Emily nervous, she loves him as well but in 1500's France it was inappropriate for them to be meeting without a chaperone and none of her family aware. He visits her the next day and as they sit talking M. Cheron, her aunt, shows up. She is rude to Emily and Valancourt, accuses Emily of only wanting to stay home because of him, and tells her they are leaving in the morning forbidding her from having anything more to do with him.
Emily is at her aunts disposal, she doesn't want to leave her home, or Valancourt, but has to. Once in Toulouse Valancourt tries to visit but M. Cheron wants nothing to do with him seeing her niece. Then she finds out he is the nephew of a rich widow in Toulouse that she has been trying to win favor with, she suddenly changes her mind. M. Cheron has been spending a lot of time with Monsignor Montoni. Emily doesn't like him very much, but she can see that her aunt does. M. Cheron allows Valancourt to visit with Emily because she wants to be friends with his aunt, then she arranges that they can get married. Although Valancourt and Emily knew nothing of this arrangement they are both happy for it. They start to decorate and prepare for a wedding. Then suddenly M. Cheron completely changes, decides to use all of the preparations for herself and marry M. Montoni. She tells Valancourt and Emily that she changed her mind, they can't marry, and she is taking Emily to Venice with M. Montoni, he will be her uncle now and get to decide what happens with her.
Valancourt and Emily are devastated. They have a tearful, secret goodbye at midnight in the garden the night before Emily leaves. The next day as she is riding off in the carriage he slips a letter through her window and tells her to think of him every night at sunset. In Venice M. Montoni is sullen, rude, and disinterested in his new wife. He gambles and hangs out with his friends all the time. He introduces Count Morano to Emily, Morano falls in love with her and wants to marry her. She refuses over and over, but it does no good. Montoni decides he is going to force her to marry him, he wants the noble name connected to himself, and some of the Counts money. Then, inexplicitly, the night before the planned marriage, Montoni arouses her and her aunt, bids them pack quickly, and whisks them off to Udolpho in the Appenines.
"Silent, lonely and sublime, it seemed to stand the sovereign of the scene, and to frown defiance on all, who dared to invade its solitary reign."
Those are just some of Emily's first thoughts as she sees Udolpho come into view after a treacherous and gloomy trip deep into the Apennine mountains. She is unsure, and apprehensive about what is going to happen once they are in the castle. She doesn't know if she is still to be forced to marry Morano. When they reach Udolpho it does nothing to quall her fears. It is huge, gloomy, in disrepair, lonely and freezing cold. Montoni gives her a room far away from the rest of the inhabitants with a door inside that leads to a staircase. She is alarmed to realize the door locks from the outside, not the inside. Her aunts maid tells her spooky stories she says the servants have been telling, she finds something scary under a veil (but I don't know what it is yet), and Count Morano shows up one night. She sees him arrive in his carriage in the evening, and then that night she is scared into fainting when he sneaks up the staircase and into her chamber. He tries to steal her away with him, as he is forcing her out of the room with his servants Montoni shows up at her room. The Count and Montoni get in a duel and Montoni stabs him. His servants take him to try and find him help.
The superb descriptions, sentiments, and undulating actions have continued. I have a hard time putting the book down sometimes. The only criticisms I would have at this point are...did people really faint that much in the 16th century? Emily has fainted several times thus far when she gets excited or scared. Also, a dog, Manchun, which was Emily's father's dog, keeps showing up randomly. She talked her aunt into letting her keep him when she left La Vallee, but I forget all about him until he shows up at convenient moments like when he started barking when Count Morano stole into her room. Then she talks about her beloved best friend that I haven't heard about in so long I forgot he existed.
I am about halfway through this adventure and am enjoying every minute of it. It's back to Italy for me bookworms! Happy Reading!!!