Prepare to be spellbound. Barbara Frances' long-awaited third novel, “Shadow's Way,” takes you to the coastal, deep South, where the past and the present mingle in a gothic tale of insanity, murder, and sexual intrigue.
You'll meet the beautiful Elaine Chauvier, former actress and proprietor of Shadow's Way, her family's antebellum home; the esteemed Archbishop Andre Figurant and his fallen identical twin, Bastien; newly arrived Ophelia and Rudy, here to explore their Chauvier roots and their ties to Shadow's Way; and the mysterious Madame Claudine. Under a veneer of piety and graciousness, i.e., the questions: What is good? What is evil? What is reality?
Two of the historic forces that still shape American culture, ante-bellum southern ideology and the catholic church, are brought into fascinating and disturbing juxtaposition in this novel. Barbara Frances lays bare traditions that while often enough exposed as decadent in some measure, still retain strong elements of venerability through the usual telling of their stories. Not here. Nothing is embellished or disguised. At its core, like a Russell Lee camera lens, this work shows us marginalized people seeking growth and redemption without filters or touch-up. With all their blemishes, in their stumbling nakedness they emerge as utterly noble.
A spell weaver, Shadow's Way, kept me in suspense, which, as a lover of good mysteries is not an easy for an author to do. I often guess an ending before I hit the middle. As in her last book, Like I Used to Dance, Ms. Frances' characters are delicious portrayals, richly textured, gradually revealing their good and evil humanity, as her hauntingly realistic settings and surprising story unfolds. To say more might give away the best of her new book. I have thoroughly enjoyed both of her novels and highly recommend them.
Ms. Francis’ novel Shadow’s Way, had me enthralled from page one, it kept me reading until so late into the night that I used a flashlight in order not to wake my husband.
I’ve always enjoyed reading gothic tales, but this one went beyond most that I had read. The synopsis was correct, past and present mingled and left me on the edge of my seat. Was G – G – Daddy a real paranormal experience or a figment of Elaine Chauvier’s imagination, which got worse as she sunk deeper into insanity?
I loved the various characters that Ms. Francis brought into play as needed to heighten the story. They were well rounded and interconnected in ways that one has to keep reading to get the full picture.
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