Beim, Norman. “After Byron”, The Permanent Press, 2015.
A Sneak Peek
One of the greatest pleasures of being a reviewer is a chance to get sneak peeks at books and movies long before the public sees the works. I just received a prepublication copy of Norman Beim’s “After Byron” and it is glorious—especially because I love Byron and have done so since I first red him in high school. It seems like this is a year for Byron—several books about him have come out this year and I actually just finished reading Andrew McConnell Stott’s “The Poet and the Vampyre: The Curse of Byron and the Birth of Literature’s Greatest Monsters” which you will find reviewed here on my website. While “After Byron” is not about Byron himself, it is certainly in the style of romantic novels.
Beim’s book is a gothic novel that is narrated through notes, journals and diaries written my a wonderful cast of characters who take us into a world where passion rules and intrigue challenges.
In this Gothic novel told through the journals, notes, and intimate diaries of a cast of fascinating characters, we are taken into a bustling world of passion and intrigue. Gerald Marston is a young British man who goes on a tour of Europe before he settles down as a barrister. As can happen, and I can vouch for that because it has happened to me more than once, Marston was running out of money so he takes a job with a detective agency based in London as a way to supplement his finances. He replaces another detective who disappeared mysteriously while he was at work reporting on some of the disreputable activities of the disreputable Lord Ingersoll who fancied himself as a poet and good friend of George Gordon, Lord Byron. Byron, himself, was acknowledged to have a dangerous past that was filled with scandal.
It seems that Lady Ingersoll drowned one night while sailing on her husband’s yacht in the Mediterranean Sea. Ingersoll went into exile afterwards but not alone. With him are Inez Cortina, his mistress and Lady Ingersoll’s former maid and Crankshaw, Ingersoll’s valet and homosexual (or as Beim puts it, catamite). The three of them are suspects in the death of the Lady. When the three of them go to Genoa, Marston follows them and Ingersoll goes off to visit his former mistress, Clarissa Shelton, who incidentally gave birth to their daughter, Diana. Clarissa manages to persuade Ingersoll to take Diana hoping that he will be able to find a suitable husband for her. What was unexpected was for Marston to fall in love with Diana and she to fall in love with him.
Marston’s boss has warned him of Diana but he ignores him and goes to Chillon to have dinner with his love and to meet her father. Chillon has been the legendary home of the Ingersolls and is rumored to be haunted.
So far I have given a lot of details about the plot but I am stopping and simply stating that what happens next is for you to discover by reading the book. There is noting like a good gothic romantic novel on a cold night and this one fills the bill with the added plus of having wonderful character development. I love a dark story and the romantic period is one of the best for those.