A Sicilian Romance by Ann Radcliffe is considered the pioneer of the gothic novel.
On the northern shore of Sicily, the magnificent remains of a castle, which formerly belonged to the noble house of Mazzini, can still be seen. It stands in the center of a small bay, and upon a gentle acclivity, which, on one side, slopes toward the sea, and on the other rises into an eminence crowned by dark woods....
Listeners will thrill to this gothic romance. The comely Julia loves one man, but is forced by her arrogant father into a marriage for profit. She escapes the castle in which she is trapped and encounters many perils on her run to freedom. Author Ward was a pioneer of gothic fiction. Her novels are filled with lush landscapes and exotic travels, and supernatural phenomena inform the story. A large number of diverse writers were influenced by Ward's work. Many of those writers exceeded Ward in remaining overtly relevant in literature. In a soft and refined voice narrator Alison Larkin brings a glowing Julia to life. But Larkin's melodic tone really warms to the text when she shares Ward's minute and sensual descriptions of nature.
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