Monday, March 18, 2013

Review: Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

From Goodreads: When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation - on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting - from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi. Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives - all with hair as red as her own - in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world. 

My Rating: 4 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: Even though Jane Nickerson’s Strands of Bronze and Gold was a retelling of the Bluebeard fairy tale, I wish the synopsis hadn’t stated so because let’s face it: if you know what the fairy tale is about, it definitely ruins the climax. Assuming you don’t know the gist of the original fairy tale, let’s just say that Strands of Bronze and Gold is a slow-paced, creepy (beware, it does take some time to become that!) tale with gothic elements, set in the South before the Civil War. Although its secondary characters were forgettable (which is too bad because most of them were POC characters), Strands of Bronze and Gold features a sympathetic protagonist, a well-developed villain, and a realistic depiction of abuse.

Sophie was a character that I found pretty easy to relate to. Having her father die, she leaves her siblings to go live with her godfather who she hopes will provide her with a better life and eventually help her siblings as well. Once at Wyndriven Abbey, Sophie forgets her beliefs for a bit as she adjusts to now living a life of luxury. Fortunately, Sophie is able to see past the glitz later on and realize that perhaps she doesn’t want the exact life that her guardian is living. Nowhere is this more evident than in Sophie’s treatment of the slaves employed by Monsieur Bernard.

Poor Sophie is unable to handle her situation with Monsieur Bernard so easily however. At first, things appear great, with Monsieur Bernard providing her with ample gifts. But, she soon starts feeling slightly uncomfortable as Monsieur Bernard occasionally begins hitting on her. Having developed a minor crush on her godfather, Sophie initially brushes this off and makes excuses for her godfather’s behaviour, but the reader quickly becomes alert to more troublesome signs in their relationship like Monsieur Bernard’s temper and Sophie’s increasing isolation. Luckily, Sophie realizes that her godfather may not be as charming as he appears to be and quickly outgrows her crush, especially once she meets the local preacher, Reverend Gideon Stone.

The romance between Sophie and Gideon was very much insta-love, and I couldn’t buy it because I think Sophie would have fallen for anybody that gave her some attention and treated her decently. As a character, Gideon paled in comparison to Monsieur Bernard, who could be charismatic in one moment and furious, dismissive and manipulative in other. You just never knew which side of his you’d see! 

Strands of Bronze and Gold was released on March 12, 2013 by Random House Children's Books. 

Comments About the Cover: It’s so pretty!

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Random House) for free via NetGalley.
original image from


  1. It's pretty unfair, but I dislike retellings and tend to avoid them at all costs. But this has been getting such fabulous reviews that I simply must read it, although I'm pretty sure that the instalove you mentioned plus the predictability due to it being a retelling will ruin it a bit for me.

  2. I don't mind if I know the fairy tale story ahead of time. I think the fun for me is to see how the author changes it. I don't know much about the Bluebeard fairy tale so I'm really looking forward to this one.

  3. I don't know, sometimes knowing certain things ahead of time increases the tension for me. Knowing the basics of the Bluebeard fairytale would make me a giant ball of anticipation while reading, waiting and wondering when Bernard is going to show his true colors. I can see how for some people the knowing would have the opposite effect though:) I'm glad to know you enjoyed this one overall Z, I'm really excited to get my hands on it!

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  5. Although the romance doesn't sounds great I'm intrigued by this book. I love re-tellings, and since I haven't read Bluebeard the climax wont be spoiled so yay for that. Lovely review!

  6. I had no idea this author was Canadian! Fortunately for me, I am not familiar with the story of Bluebeard, so I wouldn't be spoiled by the story! On the other hand, I feel like I might get more out of its retelling if I knew the original story. So I can't decide what I would do if I were to read this one... it does sound pretty good though!

  7. I already feel for Sophie. It isn't easy dealing with the death of a family member so I want to see how she handles it and grow. It sounds like she has a lot of room to do so and that is a great thing to see in a character.


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