A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott
Random House, 1st edition, 1995
Genre: potboiler, romance, Victorian pop literature
Synopsis & Review: Eighteen-year-old Rosamond Vivian lives on a remote island off the English coast with only her eremitic, indifferent grandfather for company. Longing for something, anything of note to happen in her life, she recklessly declares, “I often feel as if I’d gladly sell my soul to Satan for a year of freedom.” And so she very nearly does, for on the heels of her declaration, Phillip Tempest enters her life, a thrilling and sinister, but devilishly charming, man enters her life. Rosamond soon succumbs to the temptations Tempest offers, falling in love with the first attractive, virile man she’s ever met–and with the visions he paints before her of sailing the world on his yacht Circe, and seeing everything she’s only read of in books. When she finally admits her love for him, Tempest dares her grandfather to wager her very being, and so wins Rose’s hand in a game of cards. Before they set sail, Tempest offers Rose one final chance to live with him and be his love, damning society, but she refuses and insists that he marry her or not have her at all.
A year later, in the pleasure gardens of Valrosa, Rose learns that those who dance must pay the fiddler as Tempest proves that he is the blackguard and libertine he always insisted he was with deceit, treachery, and even murder blackening his soul. Not only does Tempest do away with her little page Ippolito–who may be something else entirely–but he is married to another woman already. desperate, Rose hastens away through the night, unable to share her life with a man so heartless, as much as she may love him. And so begins the long fatal love across Europe, from convent to asylum, garrets to country manors. Each time Rose thinks she has escaped his grasp, Tempest appears once more in her life, beguiling her to join him again, and the farther and faster she runs, the more he desires her.
She took to writing sensation stories, for in those dark ages, even all-perfect America read rubbish. So wrote Louisa May Alcott of Jo March in Little Women, but she might as well have been writing about herself. To support her family, Louisa May, too wrote blood-and-thunder tales and thrillers under a nom de plume, and wildly successful ones, at that. A Long Fatal Love Chase was one of those, written after her European travels. Destined for serialization, it was ultimately rejected, even after extensive rewrites, for being “too long and too sensational,” and remained unpublished till 1995. Read the rest of this entry »