Douglas Carlton Abrams – The Lost Diary of Don Juan
Length: 322 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction; Romance
Started: 16 October 2008
Finished: 18 October 2008
The greatest lover
of all time. Can he be swayed
–Book provided by the author for review–
Summary: Don Juan, the greatest lover in all of Spain (and perhaps the world) has been portrayed by history as a craven seducer and womanizing cad, intent only on increasing the number of notches on his bedpost. This novel takes a different view: Don Juan as a seducer, yes, but as a lover of all womankind, a worshiper at the altar of all that is female, a devotee of true passion, and the liberator of widows and dissatisfied housewives. Told in diary format, this novel recounts not only his history as orphan, thief, spy, and libertine, but also of the most dangerous period of his life. For Don Juan is in danger, not only from the Inquisition who views his activities as licentiousness and the deepest form of sin, but also from Doña Ana, the beautiful and independent-minded woman who may threaten everything that Don Juan thinks he stands for. The first rule of a libertine is never to fall in love; for, after all, how can a man who is devoted to lust and passion ever find satisfaction with just one woman?
Review: This book is about equal parts historical fiction and trashy romance novel (in the nicest sense of the term), mashed together to produce an enjoyable, quick-reading, and compelling story. I have to admit, I was not particularly familiar with Don Juan’s story before reading this book – I recognized the name but had no real idea of the context. Abrams does an excellent job bringing late 16th century Seville to vibrant life, and this novel has a strong sensuality to it in both the sensory and sexual sense. The prose is florid, occasionally to the point of being purple, but the thing is: in this case, it works. For example, I found it completely believable that Don Juan would use the term “Supreme Pleasure” in his diary, even though on its own, that sort of language would totally make me roll my eyes. However, The Lost Diary of Don Juan neatly walks the line between being overly coy and overly graphic about sex and seduction.
While the overarching theme of this book seems to be the relationship between lust and love, and whether one is real without the other, and how to maintain both with only one other person, I don’t think it went particularly deep – the ending’s pretty predictable, and the moral seems to be of the “wuv, twoo wuv conquers all” variety. However, I really don’t think most people are looking to this novel as a deep philosophical, historical, or moral treatise. As a bit of light, slightly fluffy, yet compelling historical romance, though, it was thoroughly entertaining. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: A good choice for folks who like their historical romance sexy but not super-graphic, or for those who are looking for a entertaining, not-too-serious book to lose themselves in for an afternoon.
Links: Douglas Carlton Abrams’s Home Page – careful, there’s auto-starting music, so turn your speakers off if you’re browsing at work, The Lost Blog of Don Juan – Hee! Also, there’s a listing of the other blog tour stops here.
Other Reviews: Literarily, Savvy Verse & Wit, Bookish Ruth, The Bluestocking Society, The Literate Housewife Review, Kathleen’s Book Reviews
Did I miss your review? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.
First Line: I write in the naked pages of this diary so that the truth will be known and my fate will not be left to the rumors and lies already whispering through the streets of Sevilla.
Many thanks to Dorothy Thompson, Douglas Carlton Abrams, and Pump Up Your Book Promotion for giving me a chance to read this book!
- p. 239: “She wore a simple red dress without petticoats or a farthingale, as if she were in a hurry.” – a hoop skirt or framework for expanding a woman’s skirt, worn in the 16th and 17th centuries.