Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Adventuress

The Adventuress began as a collection of illustrations in the sketchbook of Audrey Niffenegger; images of a half-naked woman wearing gloves and a long skirt. It is the author's first book, hand-printed in an edition of only 10 copies, back in the early 1980's before the release of her best-selling novel "The Time Traveler's Wife" and published in 2006 for a wider readership.

The Adventuress is the story of a woman whose alchemist father had fashioned from mysterious elements. She was seen by Baron Von K through a window, and he carried off to marry her. She ran away, was overtaken by men on horseback, and was held captive. From the threads of her skirt, she made a cocoon, emerging as a huge moth when winter thawed. She flew to freedom, finding her way to the garden of Napoloeon Bonaparte, and she and Napoleon eventually became lovers. She gave birth to a cat named Maurice, and the rest of her adventures unfold.

The novel is a very refreshing read, with the story enriched by dreamy aquatints. The text is expressed in imaginative and passionate prose, without giving in to prosiness. Though the story consists of short scenes in the protagonist's adventures, shifting from one to the next in a rather abrupt manner, the images captured quite efficiently the interest of the reader, allowing for a more graceful, more fluid transition from one adventure to another.

This is one of those works that you either like or don't. If you're expecting something similar to "The Time Traveler's Wife", this novel will disappoint. However, if you possess a mind open to a different experience in reading, where images play as big a role as the words themselves, then pick up a copy of this book, settle in your favorite chair, and brace yourself for a visually stimulating adventure.

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