I am inexplicably drawn to Edgar Allan Poe. I don’t understand most of his poems, but find myself reading them all the same in an attempt to understand. My absolute favorite work of his is not a poem at all though – it is The Tell Tale Heart. This book was very much like a longer version of that tale, only instead of murder there are secrets and lies.
I have never been in a similar situation to the tell tale heart, however I can see it in my minds eye as if I am there. The mind is a very interesting thing. It can take us down dark roads we didn’t know we wanted to go down until we were already there breathless to turn back, helpless to do anything but press on. Reading this book was exactly like that. It was dark and scary, exciting and intriguing.
It was very interesting to me to see into the world as it may have been in the late 1800’s / gaslight era and how different, yet strangely similar, society reacted to adultery. The desperation to be viewed as equal to a man in every way by women yet knowing it was not possible (at the time) was palpable. I am constantly reminded through various means how lucky I am to be a woman in this day and age, although I yearn to be able to live in a much older time period. The saying is true then as it is now, and will be in the future: We always want what we don’t have. The hard part of life is finding peace with what you have because if you have ever been so lucky as to get what you want you too may know that in time the want gets tarnished and the need grows dim. Not that I do not believe that happiness exists or that there can be a love between husband and wife the endures. On the contrary, I very much hope that glimmering dream is a possibility. The problem for me is that the most romantic love stories I have ever read are steeped in pain, longing, regret, and tragedy. Any happiness in those stories is always short lived, but much like a star it burns bright when it can and then must fade out of existence. If only we lived as long as stars then our histories brief moments of pure bliss could span centuries. Alas, we are mere mortals and our time here is brief, our happiest times even more brief.
Would that I could be wooed by a simple tale of love that lasts and has no issues, but my twisted mind finds that too simple and improbable. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, life is messy and so is love. Thankfully divorce does not hold quite as much negative stigma in this day and age as it did when this story was set. I can’t imagine being forced to endure a loveless marriage simply to “keep up appearances.”
Well done Lynn Cullen, if I had a hat to tip I would.