“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”
From Works of Love by Soren Kierkegaard, 1857
The quote above is one that appears at around the middle point of The Unseeing - Anna Mazzola’s debut Victorian novel, to be published by the Tinder Press on July 14, 2016.
This novel is very much about what is seen and what is not. It shows how the truth can be concealed, whether willingly or accidentally; by chance or deliberate intent.
The story on which the plot is based has been very much inspired by a real Victorian cause celébre`, with Anna concentrating on the relationship that builds between Sarah Gale - who is charged as an accomplice in a ghastly murder case - and Edmund Fleetwood, an idealistic young lawyer.
Anna’s own experience in the legal profession loans her writing a subtle expertise, but her touch is deft and lightly done as she paints a convincing historical world. Descriptions of place and nature can be astonishingly beautiful, as are the dark disturbing dreams of the two main characters which cleverly help to add more depth to their actions and motivations.
Anna Mazzola's language is never twee or overdone as she brings this book to vivid life - whether in the sumptuous homes and haunts of some of the wealthier characters, or in the cold stark horrors to be found in Newgate prison - for at its core this is the classic tale of the Victorian fallen woman when we see how, all too easily, hopeful prospects are transformed to lives of poverty and shame.
I really enjoyed this story, becoming more and more engrossed until I finally ‘saw’ the truth. And, as with all good Victorian novels, that truth is revealed with a skilful dose of twists and turns along the way.
An excellent debut novel. I look forward to many more to come.