So, you ask, what do vampires have to do with Historical Belles and Beaus?
I'd ask that myself and indeed, did, before I started to write this post.
If you ever read my bio you'll see that I'm a HUGE fan of Alexandre Dumas. He set the bar for me on what a great read is. My favorite is the Count of Monte Cristo -- no one does revenge better than Edmund Dantes.
If you know me at all, you know I'm not much for vampire stories. I read quite a few when those first alpha vampires hit the scene about 10 years ago or so and then I lost interest. They just didn't do it for my anymore and I went back to the historicals I fell in love with when I first "discovered" romance. That and romantic suspense. Okay and cozy mysteries.
So what do vampires and Alexandre Dumas have to do with me and how did they end up together?
I decided my reading gift to myself for 2011 would be reading all of Alexandre Dumas' books from the very first to the last, The Cavalier. He was quite prolific so I imagine it will take more than a year. I looked high and low for a copy of Captain Paul, his first, in English. None to be had so I picked up Queen Margot. As I looked down his list of books, however, I spotted Le Vampire (The Return of Lord Ruthven). That completely grabbed my attention. Dumas wrote a vampire novel (actually a play). I had to have it -- I'm still looking for a copy in English and did find a publisher that has it. He wrote it long before Bram Stoker conceived of the beloved Count Dracula yet Stoker gets all the vampire credit.
My hunt for The Return of Lord Ruthven (in English) led me to the book I brought home tonight: A Connoisseur's Collection of Victorian Vampire Stories. 464 pages of Victorian vampires. I've been gleefully rubbing my hands together since I brought it home. The cover is marvelous -- dark like an old black and white movie (I love the classics) with a castle in the background. It conjures up all that is the true, classic vampire.
And then it hit me...I actually DO like vampire stories, but it's the originals, the classics that I love. Dumas' Lord Ruthven is deemed a Bryonesque vampire, one you cannot help but feel a longing for. Contrasted with Bram Stoker's Dracula and Bela Lugosi's portrayal of him. It is a toss up, for me, whether Lugosi or Frank Langella's Dracula is the most appealing to me. Definitely Langella for the brooding loops and making my heart go pit-a-pat (he was so goregous when he was young). But there is something about Bela Lugosi's portrayal.
Of course I adore Jonathan Frid's character of Barnabas Collins. How could you not feel bad for him and his unrequited love? And then there was George Hamilton in Love at First Bite.
The "modern" vampires, at least the ones I've read, don't have those classic brooding personalities. Oh they are sexy and total alpha males, but for me there is something about the gothic vampire. The dark castles, lit with torches. The sense of darkness encompassing their very personalities. All that makes a Gothic such a good read.
I love a hunky alpha male as much as the next girl; for my vampires there is something about the darker side seen in the Victorian and Gothic characters. There is something about the historical vampires that beckons to my imagination.
Perhaps not the most cheerful of Thanksgiving weekend entertainments, I've rented both Lugosi and Langella's Dracula movies and I have my Victorian Vampire Stories. With the rains due in this weekend they make, for me, the perfect way to spend a hauntingly dark weekend.