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Through A Glass Darkly by Karleen Koen - Fiction
Sourcebooks Landmark proudly reintroduces this classic historical novel.
Karleen Koen's sweeping saga contains unforgettable characters consumed with passion: the extraordinarily beautiful fifteen-year-old noblewoman, Barbara Alderley; the man she adores, the wickedly handsome Roger MontGeoffry; her grandmother, the duchess, who rules the family with cunning and wit; and her mother, the ineffably cruel, self-centered and licentious Diana. Like no other work, Through a Glass Darkly is infused with intrigue, sweetened by romance and awash in the black ink of betrayal.
—Sold 130,000 hardcover and 600,000 mass paperback
—New York Times bestseller for five consecutive months
—A former Book of the Month Club Main Selection
"Lives up to every expectation. It's magnificent!"
—Cleveland Plain Dealer
"A completely involving story... power, greed, family conflict, burning ambition and passion kindle the plot. Readers will be captivated!"
"Fast-paced and fun to read!"
"Engaging, elegant, chock full of sex and gossip."
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Excerpt:Two voices, raised in anger, carried through the half-opened window of the library. Recognizing them, Barbara stopped and looked for a place to hide, a place where she might listen but not be seen. Seconds later, she was burrowing into the ancient ivy that crisscrossed the mellowed red-pink brick of the house. Entangled, dense, persistent, its vines as thick as her wrists in places, the ivy released the house reluctantly. Each spring it sent cunning, thin green fingers curling under the window frames and into the rooms, and each spring her grandmother calmly snipped the fingers to bits with a pair of sewing scissors and ordered the gardeners to trim it down to size. Now, in November, it clung to the house stubbornly. Already many of its glossy dark green leaves were dulled yellow-brown with cold.
âFool! Impudent young fool!â Her motherâs voice carried clearly from the library.âDid you imagine I would approve it? Were you going to come crawling like a whipped dog for my blessing? Blessing! I could kill you. Do you realize what you have almost done? Did you thinkâor has all feeling ceased, save for that hard prick between your legs?â
It was impossible to describe the effect of her motherâs voice. Its usual tone was low and husky, but when anger and scorn were added, the result was numbing.
Harry muttered something, and Barbara tried to move closer to the window so that she could hear better, but the ivy was tenacious. It had been there first, being as old as the house, which had been built well over a hundred years ago in the time of Elizabeth I. The house sprawled over several stories, its once modern features now considered quaint and old-fashioned: twisted chimney stacks of brick, no two of them alike; sharp, pointed gables all across the roofline; windows with many small panes of blown glass; dark, cold rooms with uneven floors; and outside, arbors of wych elm, a bowling green, fish ponds, an old garden maze. Barbara loved it, for it was both her birthplace and her home. She knew every path and pond and orchard and creaky place on the stairs. She felt safe and beloved here... except when her mother visited, which was fortunately not often. It was Harry who must have brought her down from London, she thought. How could she have found out? She envisioned her motherâs beautiful, white face and felt foreboding for her brother.
âYou are such a fool,â said her mother, and her voice paralyzed with its scorn. âThe match is totally unsuitable. Now more than ever. John Ashford was appalled when I told him.â Harry must have made some movementâshe could picture him, crouched in a chair, his face as hard and cold as their motherâs, his hands clenched with the effort to hold his temperâbecause her motherâs voice changed.
âYes, I told him! With his daughter standing beside him to hear me. If she had not cried like the weak, mewling child she is, her father would have beaten her, something I would have done, at any rate. God, I wanted to strike her! As for you, your conduct is unforgivable. Any alliance we form now is crucialâas you should know better than anyone!â
Each word had the clear, harsh sound of finality. Barbara knew that Harry, always thoughtless about the future, must be stunned by their motherâs sudden appearance from London, by her quick, sure, numbing action.
âDamn the family!â Harry said. âAnd damn you. I love her. What does it matter whom I marry? There is no scandal I could create to equal what you and my father have already begunââ
The crack of a palm against flesh sounded. Barbaraâs body jerked as if it were she, and not Harry, who had just been slapped.
âDo not say your fatherâs name in my presence again.â
Through A Glass DarklyBy: Karleen Koen