Belladonna: A Novel of Revenge by Karen Moline
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Isabella Ariel Nickerson is kidnapped and auctioned for 1 million pounds in 1930s England. She finds herself the unwilling play thing of a club of men who get their kicks out of forcing sexual tortures on women. Isabella is actually purchased by a man she knows only as "His Lordship", a man she will dedicate the rest of her life to finding and destroying once she escapes her hell.
The story is narrated by a man named Tomasino, one of the few men that Belladonna truly trusts (along with his twin Matteo). They were castrated in the war, and therefore, Belladonna doesn't see them as a threat. Belladonna finds herself the heir of a large fortune, and she dedicates her money and time to Club Belladonna, a popular club, where she hopes to lure one of the members into her club. One member is all it will take to find the rest.
I went into this expecting that I wouldn't like it, and honestly, the very beginning, the chapter before the actual story of Belladonna begins, was quite dull. It had that same rambling, verbose, tedious style as Middlesex did in the beginning, which sort of throws me off for a second because I like to get immediately sucked into a book. After that first chapter though, I was thoroughly engrossed with Belladonna's story.
Tomasino is a witty narrator. He loves to talk. He loves to gloat. He loves to be right. Honestly, I'm glad he was the one telling the story. It gives it a flair that I think would be missing if Belladonna, or even his brother Matteo, told the story. Belladonna's diary is also scattered throughout the book--the diary she kept while she was imprisoned. The diary format was an interesting one as well, as it was written in third person rather than first, showing how Belladonna detached herself to survive her ordeal.
I think the concept of revenge appealed to me, as it would many people. How many people get the chance to get their revenge against someone who wrongs them? Many of us have wanted to, but we've never had the satisfaction of doing so. Sure, Belladonna's methods seem a little out there, but wouldn't we all go to great lengths, if we could, to get payback? You can't help but root for Belladonna.
So, while this book seems a little extreme, it is a good novel. I wasn't too satisfied with the ending. It seemed a little rushed, a real let down to the climatic events that were taking place before it. Still well worth the read.
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