Ceremony of the Innocent
by Taylor Caldwell
1 star - not even
ALR Blue - no animals, too bad, a nice little terrier would have cheered things up
*** WARNING ***
Perhaps if I had read this when I was a teenager I would have found it wildly romantic, but as an adult it was all a bit icky.
This review is based on the first 150 pages (which is as far as I got).
Here's the setup. We've got Ellen, the poor working gal who lives with her Aunt May. Oh their life is so dreary (and that part was pretty good - described the life of a servant in late nineteenth century America well). Nobody likes Ellen. Everybody says she's ugly. Yuck. But we know differently. Oh yes, dear reader, we do. From the very first chapter we know as the priest ogles her then thirteen year old person during Sunday service and harbors impure thoughts regarding her smooth skin, wild red hair, and full bosom. Naughty.
Ellen goes to work for some rich folks and soon enough along comes Jeremy who falls wildly in
lust love with her at first sight. It's all on the up and up. After all, he thinks she's fourteen and not thirteen. Well, she's equally besotted, but it is not meant to be and Ellen and Auntie are sent away to work in some fat lady's house.
Wouldn't you know, Jeremy is stalking her for the next four years. He's got spies watching Ellen's every move and when she turns 17, he arrives and whisks her and her Aunt away to New York so that he can marry her.
Poor Ellen. She still thinks she is ugly even though her full bosom is always heaving and her wild red hair is always catching the sunlight. Oh, did I forget to mention that Jeremy seduces her BEFORE the wedding? What a jerk.
And downhill it goes from there. Ellen is apparently the illegitimate daughter of some super rich dude. A dude who left his estate to any surviving children regardless of who their mama was. But Jeremy keeps that his little secret. Don't suppose he wants his wife having more money than him.
It's all stalkerish and icky. Jeremy treats Ellen like a simpleton despite his claims of loving her and Ellen is like a compliant puppy. Meanwhile, poor Aunt May who spent her whole life working and trying to do her best gets locked up in the fourth floor of Ellen and Jeremy's townhouse since she's all crippled up with arthritis and frankly not all that fond of Jeremy. Later, Aunt May.