Green Darkness by Anya Seton

I finished reading Green Darkness a couple of weeks ago and have been wondering what to write about it or whether to write anything at all. I thought I’d read the book years ago, not long after it came out, but as soon as I began what I thought was a re-read I realised that this was completely new to me – I just thought I’d read it because I’d visited Ightham Mote, a beautiful 14th century moated manor house in Kent where part of Green Darkness is set.

A brief synopsis from Goodreads:

This story of troubled love takes place simultaneously during two periods of time: today and 400 years ago. We meet Richard and Celia Marsdon, an attractive young couple, whose family traces its lineage back to medieval England. Richard’s growing depression creates a crisis in Celia, and she falls desperately ill. Lying unconscious and near death, Celia’s spirit journeys backward to a time four centuries earlier when another Celia loved another Marsdon.

I wasn’t enthralled by it and nearly abandoned it after the first few chapters set in 1968, because the characters didn’t come over as real and the writing in accents was awful. But once I got on to the historical part, set in the 16th century it was better, so I read on.

There are some books that are easy to write about – this isn’t one of them so this is a brief post. Green Darkness is written around the premise of reincarnation, so the characters/personalities feature in both time periods. I didn’t think this was successful, but seemed contrived. For me the book would have been better as straight historical fiction.

Reading Challenges: Color Coded Challenge – green (I don’t know why this book is called Green Darkness – if the book explains the title I missed it). What’s In a Name – a book with a colour in its title. Historical Fiction challenge – 16th century England. My Kind of Mystery Challenge.

6 thoughts on “Green Darkness by Anya Seton”

  1. Margaret – I really appreciate your candor here. I know exactly what you mean, too, about being put off if characters or plot events seem too contrived. And I have to admit that I really dislike badly-written dialogue. Hmmm…..not, I think, one for me.

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  2. I’ve read quite a few Anya Setons but not this one as far as I remember. Katherine was always my favouite. I probably won’t bother with this one with so many other books to read.

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  3. I read this back in the 70s and loved the story. Started reading it again as I gave another copy to a friend for her birthday. She traveled to the UK on the Queen Mary and stayed at Igtham Mote for several days so Green Darkness, as I remembered it, seemed like a fitting gift. Oh dear, I fear she will be disappointed. The cringe-worthy bits are embarassing.

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  4. I read (and loved) the majority of Anya Seton’s novels when I was a teenager. Reading your review makes me wonder if they would hold the same appeal for me now. Maybe that’s one reason I don’t re-read novels, for fear of disappointment the second time around.

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