The Beautiful Ones…
About the Book:
They are the Beautiful Ones, Loisail’s most notable socialites, and this spring is Nina’s chance to join their ranks, courtesy of her well-connected cousin and his calculating wife. But the Grand Season has just begun and already Nina’s debut has gone disastrously awry. She has always struggled to control her telekinesis: the haphazard manifestations of her powers have long made her the subject of gossip – malicious neighbours even call her the Witch of Oldhouse.
But Nina’s life is about to change, for there is a new arrival in town: Hector Auvray, the renowned entertainer, who has used his own telekinetic talent to perform for admiring audiences around the world. Nina is dazzled by Hector, for he sees her not as a witch, but ripe with magical potential. Under his tutelage, Nina’s talent blossoms – as does her love for the great man.
But great romances are for fairy-tales, and Hector is hiding a secret bitter truth from Nina – and himself – that threatens their courtship.
The Beautiful Ones is a charming tale of love and betrayal and the struggle between conformity and passion, set in a world where scandal is a razor-sharp weapon.
I discovered Silvia Moreno-Garcia last year through her novel, Mexican Gothic, which I absolutely loved. The Beautiful Ones is a very different story, and yet, I recognised it instantly as the work of Silvia Moreno-Garcia and was thrilled to see the versatility of her writing. Mexican Gothic was historical fiction with gothic, supernatural, and horror themes. The Beautiful Ones is also historical fiction, but of an entirely different theme and atmosphere. It put me in mind of a classic, to be honest, along the lines of the Bronte sisters merged with Austen. This is a clever novel, well written, with all the nuances of 19th century high society on full display.
‘It was all over. Not merely his courtship of Nina, but his eternal pursuit of Valérie herself. He had been able to love her, hopelessly, for years and years. She was married, she was far from him, and when he saw her again, she was cold. Yet his love did not diminish, his adoration of this woman did not cease. He was chained to her, to this brilliant ideal of a perfect love. Because he had always known that if he could have Valérie in his arms again, all would be well. It would be as though the decade that separated them had never happened and they would return to the happy days of their youth when everything was possible. It was as if he could unwind the clock with her aid. And once this happened, there would be nothing but joy. But then she had spoken and revealed the true reason why she had cast him aside, and Hector realized with horror that this perfect love he’d built in his heart was ugly and grim. Had he known Valérie was difficult? Yes. Had they fought before? Yes. He had, nevertheless, failed to understand her cruelty.’
The Beautiful Ones is a love story, following the familiar trajectory of a young woman falling in love with a man who is in love with another who is undeserving of that love. There is a slight supernatural element to the story in that Hector and Nina are both telekinetic; this is in fact what initially draws them to each other. I enjoyed this element of the story and it fit well within the era. Nina’s struggles to fit in were further hampered by this special skill of hers and I appreciated the way in which this defined her and made her push back against the constraints of conformity and the expectations of her social class. I really liked both Nina and Hector, not just together, but also singularly. Valérie, on the other hand, the villain of this story, was despicable. There were no lengths she was unwilling to go to in order to fulfil her own miserable needs. Silvia Moreno-Garcia shines in the area of character development, giving us both good and evil ones, as well as those that possess the traits of both.
‘He was struck with the incongruity of it all, wondering how he had arrived at this precious moment. So securely she had nestled in his heart, it was impossible to map his trajectory. “How did I ever find you?” he asked as he moved to her side. “You didn’t. I found you. At the library of the De Villiers, at the party of the Haduiers, and that night I went to Boniface,” she said lightly. He thought that truly it had been so, but that he had also been drifting toward her since the beginning, magnetized, a compass that had spun wildly and then gently settled upon a true north. Not love at first sight, because those fancies were best left for books and songs, but she had extended her hand and invited him to follow her into a dance, and he had found after a few steps that though he had never danced it before, he did not want to stop.’
The writing throughout this novel is divine. Poetic at times and infused with the atmosphere of the era. It really was a treat to read: a classic storyline with a fresh and unique twist. I’m looking forward to seeing what Silvia Moreno-Garcia comes up with next. Her versatility is admirable and makes her an exciting author to be a fan of.
Thanks is extended to Jo Fletcher Books for providing me with a copy of The Beautiful Ones for review.
About the Author:
Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the multi-award-winning author of Mexican Gothic (a New York Times bestseller), Gods of Jade and Shadow (one of Time magazine’s top 100 fantasy novels of all time), among others, The Beautiful Ones, Certain Dark Things and the forthcoming noir thriller Velvet was the Night, she has also edited several anthologies, including the World Fantasy Award-winning She Walks in Shadows (a.k.a. Cthulhu’s Daughters). Born and brought up in Mexico, she now lives in Vancouver, Canada.
The Beautiful Ones
Published by Jo Fletcher Books (Quercus Books)
Released 27th April 2021