Suspenseful and cinematic, Bittersweet exposes the gothic underbelly of an idyllic world of privilege and an outsider’s hunger to belong.
On scholarship at a prestigious East Coast college, ordinary Mabel Dagmar is surprised to befriend her roommate, the beautiful, wild, blue-blooded Genevra Winslow. Ev invites Mabel to spend the summer at Bittersweet, her cottage on the Vermont estate where her family has been holding court for more than a century; it’s the kind of place where children twirl sparklers across the lawn during cocktail hour. Mabel falls in love with midnight skinny-dipping, the wet dog smell that lingers near the yachts, and the moneyed laughter that carries across the still lake while fireworks burst overhead. Before she knows it, she has everything she’s ever wanted: friendship, a boyfriend, access to wealth, and, most of all, for the first time in her life, the sense that she belongs.
But as Mabel becomes an insider, a terrible discovery leads to shocking violence and reveals what the Winslows may have done to keep their power intact – and what they might do to anyone who threatens them. Mabel must choose: either expose the ugliness surrounding her and face expulsion from paradise, or keep the family’s dark secrets and make Ev’s world her own.
When I first saw this book was available for review, I was immediately drawn in to it’s mysterious premise and Gothic feel. As I began to read, I was a little concerned that I would be disappointed with this book. It had kind of a slow start and after a while I wondered if anything was actually going to happen. It did finally begin to pick up pace and became an intriguingly woven story that I wanted to keep reading. There were many plot twists and turns and it truly had that Gothic novel feel that I love. It was beautifully written, suspenseful and mysterious. There were a few unexpected usages of language and graphic sexual scenes that I could have well done without, but overall this was a quality story that I’m glad to have read.
MIRANDA BEVERLY-WHITTEMORE is the author of three novels, including The Effects of Light and Set Me Free, which won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for the best book of fiction by an American woman published in 2007. A recipient of the Crazyhorse Fiction Prize, she lives and writes in Brooklyn and Vermont.
* I received this from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. Thanks!