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DUAL REFLECTIONS, PART 2: Black Silk by Judith Ivory (Judy Cuevas)

0061782122.01.LZZZZZZZBlack Silk was one of the first two Romance novels I read, and to this day it remains one of my absolute favorites. Submit Channing-Downs, the woman who deeply mourns the husband who was almost three times her age, is so unlike most Romance heroines. Her hair has the quality of thick yarn, her teeth overlap, her skin is almost preternaturally pale against the unremitting black of her mourning clothes. She does not excel at small talk, is not given to socializing, and despite her sharply correct manners, her sharply mannered aloofness offers the impression of dour smugness. While Graham Wessit, Earl of Netham, seems, at least initially, like so many Romance heroes: profligate in his sexual exploits, an enthusiastic adulterer, and a darkly handsome, playfully charming rogue. As excessive and colorful in his habits and appearance as the fireworks he concocts, Graham initially seems to be Submit’s complete, radical opposite. All of which gives their ultimate happiness together the appearance of a miracle. But unlike the dues ex machina of so many fairy tales, the miracle of Black Silk is how powerfully and perfectly rendered this love story is.

When Submit Wharton married Henry Channing-Downes on her sixteenth birthday, she had no idea what to expect from this scholarly man 43 years older than she. Her father had named her to her purpose in life, but as Submit insightfully notes, he "was not very astute in his choices, merely lucky." And that luck had much more to do with the success of marrying his middle class daughter into society than in molding her personality. For while Submit was, in many ways, Henry’s "creature," she was not shaped into some milquetoast acolyte; rather, Henry pushed and challenged her into intellectual and emotional independence. That she tempered these with deep affection and love for her husband was more her choice than Henry’s, since he never mastered his discomfort with winning a pretty, bright, drastically younger wife.

And Henry is not alone in that; from his first peek at the young widow (he never saw or communicated with her until Henry’s death) Graham cannot make sense of Henry and Submit’s marriage, either, assuming the petite woman bound in yards of black silk must either be little more than an abused child grown sympathetic to her abuser or happily liberated from marriage to an impotent, arrogant, cruel old man. That she refuses both explanations baffles Graham, a man who, at 38, is at his own crossroads. He cannot decide whether he loves his mistress, a married American woman, Rosalyn Schild, who carts her cuckolded husband around like another piece of luggage, and whose audacious, extroverted beauty seeks the glamour of marriage to the Englishman who inspired the barely fictionalized sensation, "The Rake of Ronmoor" serial. A laundress has sued him for paternity of her twins, and despite his innocence, a sensational past has obliterated any convincing defense based on the truth.

While not in full ennui, Graham knows something in his life – he, most likely – must change, and that change occurs unwanted and unwontedly when Submit Channing-Downs shows up with a box of pornographic drawings featuring a much younger Graham Wessit and a popular actress. Henry’s will has instructed Submit to deliver the box to Graham, and neither is particularly happy about the result. Graham is forced to confront his unresolved feelings toward Henry, his cousin, his erstwhile guardian (Graham’s parents died tragically when he was eight), and a man who so deeply disapproved of Graham’s excesses that he did not protest when Graham was thrown out of Cambridge, prosecuted criminally, sentenced to prison, and then to the pillory for those pictures. That Graham was likely unconstitutionally capable of conforming to Henry’s expectations did not matter to either; Graham secretly wanted approval and Henry openly wanted obedience, and for years the two remained estranged.

The pictures, then, borne by Henry’s arresting young widow, seem both a punishment and a perverse opportunity. For Graham, there is one more chance to get back at Henry for being such an unforgiving son of a bitch. While Submit carries with her a small hope that Graham might help her in defending Henry’s will, which he wrote by hand in the service of excluding his only, illegitimate son, William, who is determined to win both title and property. William has already had Submit evicted from Motmarche and tied up the estate assets, leaving Submit with little money and even fewer public advocates. Graham, who has been half-heartedly lending William money, finds Submit’s independence and her isolation surprisingly appealing, even as he suffers embarrassment and anger over the "gift" from Henry of his scandalous past, hand-delivered by yet one more symbol of Henry’s superiority.

To say that Graham and Submit are befuddled and fascinated by each other is an understatement. From the beginning there is a force between them that belies their superficial differences, electrified by Graham’s antagonism toward Henry and Submit’s shock at the drawings (of course she peeked in the box!) and bafflement at Henry’s motives in sending her to Graham with them. Indeed, Henry’s presence dominates Submit and Graham’s relationship for much of the novel, by turns as judge, benefactor, antagonist, and primogenitor. At some points he seems a substantive presence in Submit and Graham’s tentative friendship, as Submit clings to his memory for support and Graham strives to re-direct Submit’s romantic interest to himself.

The extent to which Henry brings Submit and Graham together and the extent to which he keeps them at odds seem roughly equal. Graham wants so much to understand this woman who some liken to a crow (or in William’s case, to a spider), because "whatever it was about her that attracted, it was subtle." Like the way she can acknowledge Graham’s magnetism without being drawn too close to a man who dressed "as if he wanted not merely to bowl a person over but knock her down with his good looks." She disapproves of his experimentation with fireworks, while he disapproves of her unremittingly black wardrobe and dutiful mourning affect. And while both are at loose ends, emotionally, neither can find a safe harbor in the other’s company. In short, Graham and Submit rattle each other in profound ways. Submit is not interested in the trappings of Graham’s superficial bounty, while Graham is pruriently interested in what lies inside Submit’s dress, as well as her mind and heart. Graham is smarter and more insightful than he appears, while Submit is more rebellious and romantic than she appears. It is on some level chemistry – like the friction igniting Graham’s fireworks – that makes their attraction so frustrating and so irresistible:

“You are devastating,” he said honestly. Her skin, he realized, was flawlessly smooth, something a man wanted to touch. What she was was tactile. She had a fine, gold down along her cheek. He watched her mouth, waiting for it to open, thinking of the teeth that overlapped in front. He ran his tongue along the back of his own.

"Don’t do this," she said.

"Do what?"

"Pretend I’m your sort." Her eyes slid to him rather meanly. "Or you mine."

"I don’t have a sort."

"Of course you do."

"Which is?"

"Laughing, pretty women." A pause. "Mrs. Schild."

He made a disgusted sound. "So I am the dark and morose fellow with a penchant for trivial women."

"Mrs. Schild is not trivial."

He made a glum twist to his mouth. “You were meant to deny the whole description.”

He rolled out flat on his back.

In many ways, Black Silk is an elaborate strip tease, as these two characters slowly peel away their own and each other’s layers. And for much of the book, their budding friendship is quite chaste, which is ironic considering it is built quite solidly on a foundation of profanity, heretical disobedience, and impure desires. Yet there is an honesty in their evolving closeness that is disorienting enough to make them more and more visible, and therefore vulnerable, to each other. And over time that shared vulnerability begins to replace Henry’s ghostly imposition.

Henry’s importance, though, is not extinguished in Submit and Graham’s eventual union; in fact, it is the mystery of Henry’s motives that endures beyond the book’s conclusion. The aura of prurience surrounding his relationships with both Submit and Graham is not completely dissipated, either, although I would argue that it is transmuted by the authentic compatibility between Graham and Submit, as well as the prospect of their deep and lasting happiness together. And in that there might be a clue as to what Henry still has to offer these two people so powerfully shaped – positively and negatively – by what the world seems to expect of them.

Graham was confounded to remember Henry that week and his damned philosophical approach to life as he made what Henry would have called “Kierkegaard’s leap of faith.” To survive, all mortals had to trust in someone, something, Henry claimed. Though, unlike his friend Kierkegaard, Henry was not a God-trusting man; he made the leap of faith in himself-’as if he were God. In any event, for Graham it was an unsettling leap. He didn’t truly trust Tate, or Fate or Life, or even Henry or himself, for that matter.

In (simplified) Kierkegaardian terms, without that leap of faith, a person grows a hole inside that he tries to fill with various God substitutes. Thus grows his spiritual "despair," his distance from God and from peace, which creates unhappiness and dissatisfaction and can drive a person to curse and rebel against God (as Henry admitted on his deathbed he had done). So here are Graham and Submit – one of whom has so many friends and virtually no one he can trust, while the other has lost the one person she could trust, leaving her virtually friendless and homeless – feeling contradictorily attracted to someone who represents everything they distrust.

What does Henry’s refusal to take that leap of faith mean for two people Henry brought together in such a strange way? For Graham, "[a]ll his life, it had been perhaps simply this: Not wanting to be different from Henry so much as wanting all he had in common with Henry to total a different sum-’a happy existence." Submit, who had been happy with Henry, found in his death the fear that “[w]ithout him, it seemed a part of her grew dark, as if a light had been turned out, an aspect of her never to be fully known and loved again.”

There are many enmeshed images in Ivory’s novel and symbols accumulate quickly and plentifully: the black silk of Submit’s dresses and the black satin lining the notorious box of pictures; the ambiguities created by Henry’s obsessive will and the complexities among Submit, Graham, and William’s interconnectedness; Darwin’s theories and the question of whether Submit and Graham can adapt and evolve beyond their incomplete selves. Black Silk is intellectually rich and infused with a variety of philosophical and scientific principles and theories. It is a dense book, a difficult book, at times.

But for me, its brilliance lies in that powerful image of Kierkegaard’s leap of faith, which is echoed and reflected in the balanced fulfillment that Graham and Submit’s relationship ultimately represents:

“Submit, listen to me. There are probably good reasons why we shouldn’t be together. But the overriding fact is I love you, and you love me-’you need me. I can keep your life from becoming hopelessly earthbound. And I need you, as sure as leaps in the air need gravity.”

The leap of faith Submit and Graham take is not essentially spiritual, although it certainly transcends anything they had previously experienced. And unlike Henry, who could never accept his own happiness with uncomplicated contentment, Graham and Submit have the opportunity to combine their very opposite, elemental characteristics such that their leap is one to faith in love – their own and each other’s – to joy and acceptance and the trust that comes from the interdependence of two unique and independent individuals. In this, I find Black Silk’s superlative (A+) genius, along with my own joy in knowing that the faith I place in the world Ivory creates is unquestionably a leap worth taking.

This book can be purchased in used mass market paperback. Avon also re-released the book in a nice trade paperback format which you can buy new or you can buy in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.

This book was provided to the reviewer by either the author or publisher. The reviewer did not pay for this book but received it free. The Amazon Affiliate link earns us a 6-7% affiliate fee if you purchase a book through the link (or anything for that matter) and the Sony link is in conjunction with the sponsorship deal we made for the year of 2009. We do not earn an affiliate fee from Sony through the book link.

isn't sure if she's an average Romance reader, or even an average reader, but a reader she is, enjoying everything from literary fiction to philosophy to history to poetry. Historical Romance was her first love within the genre, but she's fickle and easily seduced by the promise of a good read. She approaches every book with the same hope: that she will be filled from the inside out with something awesome that she didnʼt know, didnʼt think about, or didnʼt feel until that moment. And she's always looking for the next mind-blowing read, so feel free to share any suggestions!

31 Comments

  1. DS
    Dec 04, 2009 @ 08:39:57

    Stunning review. This is one of the few romance books that I always keep a copy available. I’ve never liked another book by her so well though I thought Sleeping Beauty came close. I would buy an ebook version if the price wasn’t so high.

    Honestly, HarperCollins.

  2. Kati
    Dec 04, 2009 @ 09:27:03

    I bought Black Silk years ago because it received such positive and gushing reviews. And when I tried to read it, its brilliance was lost on me and I DNF’d it.

    But Janet, after reading this review, I’ll be immediately tracking down a copy and trying it again. What an eloquent, and beautifully crafted review. Wonderful job!

  3. C
    Dec 04, 2009 @ 09:45:50

    Echoing the 1st comment, stunning review on an absolute classic of the genre.

  4. Sarah
    Dec 04, 2009 @ 10:07:51

    I;ve never read Black Silk, something about the name and cover threw me off, but based solely on this review I’m going to stop by a bookstore on the way home from work and pick up a copy tonight!

    Excellent review!

  5. RStewie
    Dec 04, 2009 @ 10:17:52

    This was a wonderful book. I remember being stunned by the depth of it when I first read it. I might have to drop a couple dolla dollas to get the trade copy since my initial reading of it was from the library.

    Your review really fit the book, too. This book’s depth really sets it apart from the vast majority of Romances on the market today. I would liken it to Kinsale’s For My Lady’s Heart in sheer density.

    As I think about it, I believe I’ll be picking up that copy tomorrow to settle in for a read this weekend.

  6. Barbara B.
    Dec 04, 2009 @ 13:58:26

    Brava, Janet!

    Whenever I think of Ivory the word gravitas comes to mind-a word I’m not used to associating with romance. No spies, bluestockings, fiesty redheads, alpha heroes, TSTL heroines, or lame humor.

    Black Silk was the first book I read by Judy Cuevas/Judith Ivory and right away she was catapulted to the top of my list as the best romance author ever. Between 1988 and 2002 she only wrote 9 books but several of them are among the best romances ever written, IMO. She’s about the only author who would bring me out of my embargo on “mainstream” romance authors. A completely original, unique voice. Utterly sublime. She had a deep knowledge of human nature and a style of prose unlike any other romance author I’ve ever read.

    The only current romance author who even comes close to Ivory for me is Megan Hart, specifically in her book Dirty. All while I was reading Dirty I felt almost as if I was finally reading the contemporary romance by Ivory that i’d always wanted.

  7. Alyson H.
    Dec 04, 2009 @ 14:21:22

    Janet and Janine, thank you both for these reflections. I love this book, and you both opened up new insights for me. Janine, I totally get that striking analogy you made about the “cerebral fatness” of the writing, but I don’t know–I guess I likes’em chubby. And Janet, you just articulated what I never could about the leap of faith.

    Favorite image from the book: Submit coming over the hill in her red-ribboned hat.

    I have a stockpile of unread Ivory books–I don’t want to NOT have any more to read for the first time, so I’m rationing. ;-)

    Author Sherry Thomas also has a review/tribute to Black Silk over at the AAR archives.

  8. Janine
    Dec 04, 2009 @ 15:30:43

    Janine, I totally get that striking analogy you made about the “cerebral fatness” of the writing, but I don't know-I guess I likes'em chubby.

    You know, I loved this aspect of the book when I first read it and I think it’s possible that if I were reading it for the first time today I might love it just as much. I’m not sure why on rereading, it was more of a mixed bag for me.

  9. Janine
    Dec 04, 2009 @ 15:47:55

    I forgot to add that Jessica at Racy Romance Reviews is holding a discussion of this book this Sunday at 7 PM EST.

  10. K
    Dec 04, 2009 @ 16:16:21

    Brava for the reviews! I liked seeing the paired outlooks.

    It’s interesting that The Spymaster’s Lady is among those listed as a related post. Bourne’s writing has reminded me of Judith Ivory’s; I’ve wondered whether it’s a pseudonym.

  11. Janine
    Dec 04, 2009 @ 16:43:25

    @K: I don’t think it’s a pseudonym, since I have a friend who has met both authors. But they both have gorgeous prose, that’s for sure.

  12. Nicole
    Dec 04, 2009 @ 19:28:32

    I rarely comment but your review (both parts) struck me as a work of genius in itself. Stunning. I may never read the book but I will never forget your analysis of it. You should modify it into a scholarly paper or essay and submit to some Literary Journal or Romance Magazine. Absolutely amazing, extraordinary effort.

  13. Janine
    Dec 04, 2009 @ 20:15:37

    :blushing:

    Wow Nicole. Thanks so much!

    ETA: I think if our reviews were more than ordinary, it’s because the book is so extraordinary. I hope everyone gives it a shot.

  14. Susan/DC
    Dec 04, 2009 @ 21:20:58

    I know from past posts that you love this book, and since I respect your opinion highly I’ve tried, really tried, to like it. However, it’s always been a DNF for me. The book may rely on Kierkegaard’s leap of faith, but I think more of Forster’s “only connect”. I can’t connect with the characters and I have a hard time believing in their connection. Perhaps if I got farther into it . . .

    The cover of the rerelease is beautiful, and that, combined with Janet and Janine’s reviews, may provide the impetus to try again.

  15. msaggie
    Dec 04, 2009 @ 22:39:11

    Janet and Janine,
    I really enjoyed your dual review of Black Silk. I loved it too – much more than when I first read it more than 10 years ago – I commented about it at the AAR post a few months back here http://www.likesbooks.com/boards/viewtopic.php?t=5838&highlight=judith+ivory. I also understand the gripes of people who did not like it. It does take time to get into, and it is very dense – slow-moving really. It has a hero who has a mistress, and who does not dump this mistress the moment he meets the heroine. There are lots of things that are no-no and hot button issues in this story. And the heroine was married to someone who could have been her grandfather when she was sixteen (that’s just about the legal limit to have sex in the UK, and illegal in the US to have sex at that age in many states!) But, it is beautifully written, and despite all these issues, I think it is one of the best romance novels I have read. So many of the historicals written today are shallow, lack characterisation, jump to sex and first name terms too quickly, etc. But the problem is, if Judith Ivory had tried to sell this novel today, it probably would have been rejected – it’s too long, takes too long to get to the love-making bits (between hero and heroine, that is), isn’t overtly funny enough – the list goes on. But I am glad you both wrote this review – if it will stimulate others to give Black Silk another go (for those who found it was a DNF) or to read it to find out why we all like it so much. Now, you have reminded me I need to re-read it!

  16. Black Silk Discussion Tomorrow at 7:00pm EST «
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 06:59:33

    [...] and Robin posted terrific back to back reflections on the book over at Dear Author [...]

  17. Aoife
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 08:29:11

    @Janine

    The book felt like a complex, elaborate, beautifully wrought intellectual exercise. The blood-pumping heart of the story seemed to me, this time, to be buried under layers and layers of cerebral fat. I could see that Graham and Submit were perfect for one another, but I wanted to feel a deep, irreversible connection between them. I wanted my heart to beat faster at the thought of these two people connecting.

    Yes.

    This is exactly the way I’ve always felt about Black Silk. For me, the very best romances engage me on both levels, the intellectual and the emotional, and essentially, that’s where Black Silk fails for me. When I close the book I admire Ivory’s skill, but am basically unmoved. It’s all very clever, but at its core it lacks heart.

  18. Maili
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 09:43:00

    @Aoife:
    Seconded. That’s how I feel as well.

  19. bettie
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 11:14:50

    Both parts of this review are just great. It’s snowing outside, and I’m tempted to pull up Black Silk on the ol’ eReader and settle in for a reread this afternoon.

  20. Estara
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 11:53:11

    @Kati:

    I bought Black Silk years ago because it received such positive and gushing reviews. And when I tried to read it, its brilliance was lost on me and I DNF'd it.

    Exactly my experience, except I bought it because it had been talked about positively on DA before, and I’d liked other Judith Ivory books.

    But then I’ve found I also can’t stand My Lady’s Heart, although I like other Laura Kinsale.

    @Aoife: You say it so much better. That’s why it was DNF. No heart, all brain.

  21. Jayne
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 13:46:12

    I did manage to struggle through to the end, so it wasn’t a DNF for me, but I ended up disliking it intensely. Beautiful prose that circles around endlessly is, in the end, just a maze of words that leaves me cold.

  22. Janine
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 14:07:06

    @Susan/DC:

    The book may rely on Kierkegaard's leap of faith, but I think more of Forster's “only connect”. I can't connect with the characters and I have a hard time believing in their connection. Perhaps if I got farther into it . . .

    I understand how you feel, because I experienced some of that this time around (though not the first time I read it). I think I was totally taken off guard by this experience because the first time I read it, it didn’t require much effort or patience from me. I did feel some connection this time, but it was in bits and pieces for me, present here and there, and then absent for stretches. I would have loved to have felt more than that. It was an interesting experience because usually my enjoyment level and my perception of a book’s merit match up, but this time they didn’t.

    @msaggie:

    It sounds like we had reverse reading experiences — whereas I like it somewhat less now, you like it more than you used to.

    I also understand the gripes of people who did not like it. It does take time to get into, and it is very dense – slow-moving really. It has a hero who has a mistress, and who does not dump this mistress the moment he meets the heroine. There are lots of things that are no-no and hot button issues in this story. And the heroine was married to someone who could have been her grandfather when she was sixteen (that's just about the legal limit to have sex in the UK, and illegal in the US to have sex at that age in many states!)

    I have to say that in my case, I don’t think the hero’s having a mistress or the heroine’s marriage to a much older man are factors in the fact that my enjoyment was more muted this time. For me, it was much more about it being slow-moving, and perhaps also about not showing as much of the characters’ vulnerabilities as much. I think one of the reasons Henry’s courtship of Submit caught my attention more than many other sections was because it showed how vulnerable Submit was at fifteen, that she would be so grateful to Henry for courting her. That made me care more about her character.

    But the problem is, if Judith Ivory had tried to sell this novel today, it probably would have been rejected – it's too long, takes too long to get to the love-making bits (between hero and heroine, that is), isn't overtly funny enough – the list goes on.

    I think you may be right about that, and that is too bad. Although if she were to write something like it today, she might be able to take it to one of the e-publishers.

  23. Janine
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 14:14:45

    @Aoife:

    This is exactly the way I've always felt about Black Silk. For me, the very best romances engage me on both levels, the intellectual and the emotional, and essentially, that's where Black Silk fails for me. When I close the book I admire Ivory's skill, but am basically unmoved. It's all very clever, but at its core it lacks heart.

    Well, the first time I read it, it did engage me on both levels, emotionally as well as intellectually. This time, it felt much more intellectual, and though I was moved by bits and pieces, I wasn’t as deeply moved by the whole as I wanted to be. I did feel that there was heart to it, even this time, but that that heart was buried under so many layers of other stuff.

    @Jayne:

    Beautiful prose that circles around endlessly is, in the end, just a maze of words that leaves me cold.

    I had a line in my review that got at this but that I cut because of space, and because I couldn’t make it fit with any paragraph. I said that most everything was elliptical, and very little was direct. I would have liked more directness from this book. But since I didn’t feel that way at all the first time I read it, I still think it’s a book that is really worth trying.

  24. Beverly
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 14:46:48

    What I like most about this book is the characters’ elusiveness. In reality, we don’t know what another person is thinking. As the reader, you are as unsure and confused by the people involved as they are of each other. They have layers of character, neither is entirely sure what they want. Some people may approach relationships knowing exactly what they want and who they want, but I don’t think most people are really this way. How many people really fall in love at first sight? There are some, but for most people, loving someone is a learning experience. I love that you get to see that between Submit and Graham in Black Silk.

  25. Robin
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 19:13:56

    Wow, everyone; thanks for all the great comments (even you philistines who don’t love the book like I do ;D)!

    @DS: I broke down and bought the ebook, even though I have both previous editions. I was surprised at the copyediting errors in it, but otherwise was glad to have the convenience of reading digital. Totally agree with you, though, that the digital price is ridiculous, especially when the book was originally released in MMPB.

    @Barbara B.: I loved Hart’s Dirty, and think it was her best book by far. I haven’t felt the same depth in any of her subsequent books, but I definitely felt there was a gritty courage in the narration of Dirty that had a similar feeling to the provocative power of Black Silk.

    @Alyson H.: That’s a great scene, especially in the way Graham picks it back up later in asking Submit to go upstairs and get the hat because he can’t stand her in the black dress. I love the scene where Graham pulls off all his rings and watches and asks Submit what he’s doing wrong in getting her to take him seriously. And when he then tells her about one of the twins. It was like a screw turning, the book changed to palpably for me at that point.

    @Susan/DC: I agree that the cover is gorgeous, but I wish it were closer to the book. Submit, for example, has very long, very light, very thick blonde hair, and until the end of the novel she wears only black dresses. Here’s the original cover image (it’s the one on the right); I wish the new cover had been a classier update of that one, which at least had two of the more important details of Submit’s character right.

    @Beverly: I totally agree that Ivory did a masterful job revealing the characters to us as she revealed them to each other. I loved the time frame of the novel, the patience Ivory seems to show with her story, and the way the pace intensifies once Graham and Submit are both staying at Netham. And while I don’t want to reveal too much about how Submit really starts to gain her confidence after Henry’s death, I think it was an absolute stroke of genius to have her take over one of Henry’s unfinished projects.

  26. Sherry Thomas
    Dec 05, 2009 @ 19:58:41

    I wrote a review for this book a million years ago at AAR. After reading Janine and Janet’s reviews, I’m amazed at how short my review was and how inadequate my insights! :-)

    I needed a long time to finish BLACK SILK, even when I first read it. As Janine mentioned, it is not a book with a narrative drive running at full throttle. But I feel some books are like that. They are not meant to be rushed. They are like rich confections that you can enjoy a little at a time and it insults neither the book nor to the reader to proceed slowly and luxuriantly.

    My feelings for BLACK SILK is one of deep admiration rather than outright adoration (the way I feel for Ivory’s BEAST, for example). And is it strange to say that had this book ended with Graham and Submit not together, my reading pleasure would not have diminished?

    And Bettie, so good to see you surfacing!

  27. Kaetrin
    Dec 07, 2009 @ 00:16:08

    I commented on Janine’s review but I forgot to say that both reviews were beautifully written and they made me even sadder that I just didn’t like this book.

    I’m with Jayne, Maili & Aoife I’m afraid.

  28. Janine
    Dec 09, 2009 @ 21:52:38

    @Sherry Thomas: I love your AAR reviews! I think it’s hard not to feel inadequate just trying to review this book.

    @Kaetrin: I just replied to your post on my review. Thanks so much for the kind words!

  29. Black Silk « Jorrie Spencer
    Dec 23, 2009 @ 15:06:38

    [...] this one, mainly because there was a discussion at Racy Romance Reviews and dueling reviews at Dear Author* recently. And I couldn’t read them, because I was still reading Black [...]

  30. jewel1983
    Nov 20, 2010 @ 19:46:00

    Unknown message

  31. ivona poyntz
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 01:06:50

    Absolutely wonderful review. This book should not be classified under romance strictly: it is so much more than that: a wonderful character study as well as an expose into late 19c life in England: one of the few intelligent romance novels not to use history as a ‘background’ to the main event.

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