Sophfronia Scott is on the blog today with her re-working of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and also known as the film Dangerous Liasons. A wonderful reworking of the tale, set in 1940’s Harlem, please read on for my review of
Pierre de Laclos’s original Les Liaisons Dangereuses and the machinations and struggles for power, position and upward mobility, full of sex, rumor and backbiting were emblematic of the courts of many European Kings – the real inspiration of modern day Survivor-like reality shows. Sophfronia Scott has modernized this story by a century plus, and changed the setting to 1940’s Harlem, adding a wonderful twist to the best and worst intentions of us all as we struggle for that lasting place in society.
Initially drawn to the story for the unique perspective brought from Scott: post war 1940’s Harlem with all of the changes in society, the solid ‘community’ feel that is at once both wholly American and distinctly from the perspective of those marginalized by the greater society at large, and their building of a world that is at once separate and distinct from, yet reliant upon that greater society. And one that provided a constant source of fascination and intrigue for those outside that Harlem bubble. And we do have time to move from that bubble with country visits to family outside the city, time spent in North Carolina.
In this story, Scott introduces us to several characters, all revealed in 3rd person past tense in alternating chapters. Each character is highly nuanced, bringing with them their own agendas, likes, dislikes and proclivities. These are not the average people on the street, they are the Harlem elite: wealthy, powerful movers and shakers in that society, and each has multiple opportunities to affect their own lives and those of the people around them in varying ways. Full of plots and schemes to gain or increase their personal power, wealth and standing: each brings a series of motivations to the table which come clear as their stories continue. Reasons are not always what one may think – but results – that alpha-dog position in pack, is the ultimate goal here. And you can’t help but be swept away with the plots, comparing and contrasting the perspectives to those you know or have seen before. Then, you realize that while the essential humanness of these people is undeniable and it becomes their setting and time that makes them different from those you know.
Scott’s writing, a cross between lyrical and wholly descriptive puts you right in the streets and drawing rooms: listening to the music that winds through the daily life: conversations have their own particular rhythm and metre, with a touch of that be-bop flair in some, more fluid and haunting to remind you of Ella. Each moment, from description to sound becomes the background as you read on, and at over 500 pages, the read is one that will transport you to another time and place, keeping you cheering and jeering as things unfold and the tangles of relationships, motivations, prejudices and unrequited desires unravel. So many tangles in the story – what is versus what could / should be, the unacknowledged desires, long held ill feelings and even some that never quite untangle are prevalent, and make this a story well worth having on your shelf and read often.
Title: Unforgivable Love: A Retelling of Dangerous Liaisons
Author: Sophfronia Scott
Genre: African-American, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Post World War II, Setting: American
Published by: William Morrow
Published on: 26 September, 2017
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Audio Length: 16 Hours: 22 minutes
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ IndieBound ♦ Book Depository ♦ Google ♦Audible
In this vivid re-imagining of the French classic Les Liaisons Dangereuses, it’s the summer when Jackie Robinson breaks Major League Baseball’s color barrier and a sweltering stretch has Harlem’s elite fleeing the city for Westchester County’s breezier climes. But there two predators stalking amidst the manicured gardens and fine old homes.
Heiress Mae Malveaux rules society with an angel’s smile and a heart of stone. She made up her mind long ago that nobody would decide her fate. To have the pleasure she craves, control is paramount, especially control of the men Mae attracts like moths to a flame.
Valiant Jackson always gets what he wants—and he’s wanted Mae for years. The door finally opens for him when Mae strikes a bargain: seduce her virginal young cousin, Cecily, who is engaged to Frank Washington. Frank values her innocence above all else. If successful, Val’s reward will be a night with Mae.
But Val secretly seeks another prize. Elizabeth Townsend is fiercely loyal to her church and her civil rights attorney husband. Certain there is something redeemable in Mr. Jackson. Little does she know that her most unforgivable mistake will be Val’s greatest triumph.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: