Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Fan-Maker's Inquisition by Rikki Ducornet

During the bloodthirsty and paranoid days of the French Revolution, a fan-maker stands trial for her association with the notorious libertine the Marquis de Sade.

Their association began when de Sade visited her shop to order beautifully crafted fans painted with pornographic scenes. In time, the customer became a friend, though never a lover; "my curiosity overcame my disgust," is how the fan-maker, educated far beyond her sex and station, explains this unlikely friendship. And during de Sade's imprisonment in the Bastille the fan-maker visited him bearing little gifts and also exchanged letters with him which are quoted to give readers a window into the "corrupt castles" of de Sade's mind. Later she even partnered with him to write a novel about the barbarities inflicted on the Mayan Indians during the Spanish Conquest of the New World. But the fan-maker's own sexuality also counts against her as her lesbian affair with a free-spirited and unconventional female playwright is exposed.

I really wanted to like this book, the plot and characters sounded so intriguing, but in My Personal Opinion the format, the Q&A style of a courtroom interrogation interspersed with letters and literary excerpts, works against it. If the author had fully fleshed out the story and characters, letting readers experience events as they unfolded, not just recited after the fact in a courtroom, it would have been so much better. This is a book that should have been a banquet not a fast food value meal.

1 comment:

librarypat said...

This format for a story is hard. Personally, it has to be done extremely well to make it work. Of course, the format isn't for everyone. It is hard to get into the rhythm of the writing.