For the most part, Through a Glass Darkly was exactly what I expected it to be. The novel follows the Duke of Tamworth’s family, specifically Barbara Alderley, the fifteen-year-old daughter of Diane and Kit Alderley who has spent her entire life living with her grandmother Alice – more commonly referred to as The Duchess.
Diane, in order to reduce her debts and secure an ally in her quest for a divorce from her husband, begins marriage talks between herself and Roger MontGeoffry, the thirty-two year old Lord Devane. Barbara fancies herself in love with Roger – claims she has been in love with him her whole life – and does everything in her power to assure she will be married to him. She’s convinced that she can make him come to love her. The remainder of Through a Glass Darkly covers her marriage to Roger – including a revelation about her beloved husband’s sexuality – and, briefly, the power struggle within her family.
At over six hundred pages, Through a Glass Darkly is a pretty hefty read. At times, it can also be incredibly slow, and I was quite thankful that the novel contained a time jump between parts one and two rather than going into excruciating detail about the four years in between the two parts. Still, it’s easy to lose oneself in Barbara’s story as it travels from England to Paris. The characters, including the minor ones, are expertly intertwined into the story and I found myself caring for everyone from Barbara to her cousin Tony, right down to the maid Therese.
However, the final fourth of Through a Glass Darkly is such an about face it read almost like the author didn’t write the last one hundred or so pages. One horrible thing happens after another to the point where it’s too melodramatic, and I started to lose interest.
And the book, for me, just seemed to stop. There’s really no closer with Barbara’s story and I feel almost like I’m being forced into reading the sequel just so I can know what happens.
Regardless, I enjoyed Koen’s tale of Lady Devane and her family, and I’m glad I picked up the novel. Through a Glass Darkly is historical fiction at its finest – rich in history, little in smut.
- Koen, Karleen. Through a Glass Darkly. Chicago: Sourcebooks Landmark, 2003. Originally published 1986. Print. 674 pgs. ISBN: 9781402200441. Source: PaperBackSwap.