In each of my books, there is always one scene or passage that pops out for me, that makes me feel good about my writing and the book I’m in the process of producing. For The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, it was the mad mob scene in Richard’s Paris drawing room as his entire family unexpectedly descended on him. In The Masque of the Black Tulip… well, I had a few in The Masque of the Black Tulip, so that one is harder.
In The Seduction of the Crimson Rose, my personal favorite passage is quite definitely the one posted below. (There are some potential spoilers there, so I’ve stuck it below the fold for those who haven’t quite finished the book yet).
Which leads us to today’s question:
Which is your favorite scene or passage in The Seduction of the Crimson Rose? Why?
This is my favorite Crimson passage:
(Chapter 18, pp 237-8 paperback, pp 210-212 hardcover)
Her voice was soft, nostalgic, deliberately drawing him back to shared memories, a shared past. He could see their once upon a times reflected in the slick surface of her china blue eyes, like a rococo painter’s fantasy of man and maid.
Everything had been pastel in those halcyon days: the soft shades of her clothes, sashed at the waist and topped with the filmy fichus demanded by sentimental fashion; the long, ash blonde curls tumbling clear to the great bow at the back of her dress; the muted straw of the great, sweeping hats that crowned her curls, shading her expression and masking her eyes. There had been boat rides, with servants to do the rowing; rural picnics, properly supplied with linen and silver; and long strolls in a conservatory where constantly burning stoves and a regiment of gardeners maintained a wilderness of flowers in eternal and artificial summer.
Like all illusions, it had been a very pretty one. Until it crumbled. Afterwards… no, what followed hadn’t been pretty. Some of it, he had brought down upon himself, deliberately seeking the low, the dark, the debauched. The Hellfire Club, the stews of St. Giles, anything that would serve to obliterate the cloyingly sweet scent of false flowers from his memory. He wanted the noisome, the foul, the gritty, those seamy subterranean swamps of humanity too ripe to be anything but real.
Some of it had found him, and been almost more than he had bargained for, for all his vaunted sophistication. France. Teresa. Compared to France, the creative perversions of his friends in the Hellfire Club had been nothing but a tawdry pastime, the petty transgressions of bored boys. Sophistication, pitted against real evil, was about as much protection as a fine coating of gold leaf against a hurricane. France had toughened him, hardened him. It wasn’t even the mob, crying with mad joy as the heads of their former masters tumbled into the straw. No, that was a good little malice, comprehensible in its own way. It was the Talleyrands, the Teresas, the men who coolly presided over the demise of civilization with an eye to nothing but what they themselves could glean from it, condemning former friends and lovers with no more ear to their cries than a butcher slitting the throat of a bleating sheep. If he had had any belief left in the innate goodness of human nature, it had bled out in France, into the straw beneath the guillotine, among the linens he shared with his lover, his accomplice, his eminence grise.
“I’ve changed more than you think,” Vaughn said flatly.
Does this passage speak to you as it does to me? Or are there other moments you found more meaningful?