A Review of The Crimson Bed by Loretta Proctor
Author, Loretta Proctor explains the inspiration behind, ‘The Crimson Bed:’ ‘The Crimson Bed’ was inspired long ago by an unusual pencil drawing by D.G. Rossetti called ‘How They Met Themselves’. It shows an idealized couple (himself and Lizzie Siddal) meeting their ‘doppelganger’ in a dark wood. Rossetti drew this on their honeymoon, a strange foreboding of Lizzie’s eventual suicide'.
This picture has always held great fascination for Loretta. She doesn’t read it as a sinister ‘doppelganger’ but rather in the Jungian sense of the meeting within of the male and female, spiritual and carnal sides of human nature, often reflected in real life by two couples who become friends then are contrasted with one another. In ‘The Crimson Bed,' she seeks to show how her characters ‘met themselves’ through the contrasting relationships of Fred and Ellie and Henry and Tippy’.
Carl Jung called sexual secrets and feelings people hide out of shame or a fear of tarnishing their image that they present to the world, the Shadow side of our natures. 'The Crimson Bed' deals with such secrets and feelings. Yet this dark, non-manifested part of us is often where creativity and depth of character is stored.
Frederic Ashton Thorpe and his best friend, Henry Winstone, are artists immersed in the Pre-Raphaelite movement, with its yearning for romantic escape from the materialism of Victorian society. Seeing a half-finished portrait of the beautiful Eleanor Farnham at Henry's studio, Fred is fascinated and returns in order to meet her. He and Ellie fall in love and are married. But every heart hides a secret and both Fred and Ellie have put certain events behind them. Events that, if exposed, could threaten their blissful new life. After her mother's death, Ellie inherits the Crimson Bed, a family heirloom passed down through the female line since Elizabethan times. With the bed come ancestral secrets that will eventually affect Ellie as much as the unhappy memories from her own past. Meanwhile, Fred is haunted by shameful memories of his own, that lead him into the darkness of the London slums and a very different world to that of his peaceful home. As a brilliant and talented artist, Henry is beginning to experience success and fame, but his life is haunted by tragedy and loss. Despite their own problems, Ellie and Fred watch in despair as he sinks slowly into drink, illness and decline. Passions escalate as Fred becomes increasingly jealous of Ellie's closeness to her handsome godfather, Lord Percy Dillinger, and when shocking truths finally come to light their lives will never again be the same!
‘The Crimson Bed’ is written in a very easy writing style that keeps the reader interested in the story line and characters. I was very impressed with Loretta Proctor’s knowledge of the Victorian era and the artistic techniques used by the Pre-Raphaelites. She really creates a vibrant Victorian world; especially if you enjoy reading Henry James or Edith Wharton. The author never preaches to you or over explains details with mind numbing explanations. She simply knows how to flesh out her characters.
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