Who does a vampire’s laundry?

Is this the kind of yoga Diana Bishop does?

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, an American History Professor, is the first of a trilogy. It came out in 2011 and raced to the top of the NY Times Best Seller list. It’s 592 pages long and seems longer. If you removed all the yoga and the cups of tea it may not have been quite so long.

 The narrator is an historian, Diana Bishop, who is working on a research paper in the Bodleian library at Oxford. Her time in the library seems to be spent in thumbing through great piles of old books, perhaps making notes, it is not clear. The other aspect of Diana is that she is a witch from a family of witches. Because of trauma in her early life, she rejects her witchy heritage, except when she sometimes wants to get something from the top of a high cupboard without getting out of her chair. The Bodleian, however, is heavily peopled by vampires, witches and daemons and THE vampire cottons on to her quite quickly. He appears to develop a great passion for her, although she seems a tedious and obsessive person with her early morning runs and rowing on the river.

The vampire is very old, about 1500 years old. This long life experience does not stop him falling for Diana. He is very suave too.

Clairmont was lounging against the side of his Jaguar looking unrumpled and at ease. Even his yoga clothes, characteristically gray and black, looked bandbox fresh, though considerably less tailored than what he wore to the library.

Sometimes he is referred to as Clairmont, sometimes as Matthew and frequently as the vampire, but one of his most striking features is his caring nature. He watches over Diana in the dawn light as she rows alone on the river. He is always on hand to carry her and wrap her in blankets and tell her to sleep. To say nothing of all the cups of tea and the yoga classes in his stately home (no humans there, only creatures).

Here they are on a visit to France:

I was in the middle of a jaw-splitting yawn when Matthew drew me from the chair. He scooped me into his arms, my feet swinging in midair. I started to protest.

‘Enough,’ he said. ‘You can barely sit up straight, never mind walk.’

He put me gently on the end of the bed and pulled the coverlet back. The snowy white sheets looked so crisp and inviting. I dropped my head onto the mountain of down pillows arranged against the bed’s intricate walnut carvings.

And so on. Someone behind the scenes is doing a huge amount of washing and ironing but they never get a credit.

There are too many characters in this book. It is well-padded, but at its heart is the old dominance-and-submission love story. A silly wilful woman thinks she knows best until a strong masterful male comes along to conquer her and carry her wrapped in blankets. There are no hidden depths here. Basically it’s a clichéd love story about these tedious characters with tons of money, running around after some old book.

I won’t be reading the rest of the trilogy.

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15 thoughts on “Who does a vampire’s laundry?

  1. Read a review on Goodreads (I know, not a reliable source)that highly praised it. Also writer is a History professor, and wanted to see how she had written something so popular. Occasionally I get the yen to write something really trashy, but seeing I don’t read stuff like that…so this was an exploratory trip.I don’t mind canning it because the woman has made so much money out of it. Of course the film is on the way.

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    1. I’m with you, I don’t like writing negative reviews but when someone’s made a mint and the reviews are so overwhelmingly positive, well then it almost becomes a moral imperative to warn the occasional unsuspecting reader.

      Just curious. Doesn’t seem like your usual read at all. But then we tend to live in hope.

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      1. Don’t think my criticism will deter her fans. On the other hand have been revisiting ancient detective novels I read in the past by V C Clinton-Baddeley where the detective Dr Davie is a professor at Cambridge.

        ‘..’of course’ said Davie suddenly out loud,’she might have been looking at things the wrong way round!’
        …he sat bolt upright for half a minute, his lips parted, his eyebrows raised. ‘Then in that case,’ he whispered,’in that case…the mask…and the ring-the position of the mask-and the absence of the ring, could make sense, equal sense.’

        More my cup of tea, an academic detective looking for clues at a performance of commedia’del’arte.

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  2. For someone not basically interested in vampires I have to say that two (old) films I enjoyed were ‘Nosferatu’ and ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’, the second a comedy. It doesn’t sound like this one will measure up. I agree re writing negative reviews of over-hyped books, especially ones that are far too long.

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  3. You’d convinced me at “It’s 592 pages long and seems longer”! Not my cup of tea (or yoga bat pose) unless it somehow lost the clichés that surround the popular modern interpretations of vampirism. I think I’ll have a long wait …

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  4. I appreciate your opinion but I absolutely fell in love with this trilogy. Deborah’s writing is so detailed that it makes you feel like you are actually a part of the story. Yes, It was a little slow at times but I enjoyed getting to know each character and their stories. I also really think she did a great job intertwining history into her writing as both Deborah and Diana are both historians.

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