Monday, July 6, 2009

Sheila Bishop: The Phantom Garden

The Phantom Garden was written by Sheila Bishop in 1974 and published by Fawcett. It is a Georgian romance and is the story of Celia who is a singer at Vauxhall Gardens and is being pursued by Charles, who wishes her to become his mistress. When she says no, he asks to marry her. She says no to that and what happens next is the plot of our story.

Allan Kass paints an authentic picture for the setting of this story. Georgian England was the period of time before the regency and clothes were fuller and definitely more colorful. Our hero is wearing a suit of gold with a coat of purple. His hair is longer and tied back. It's a different style than the plain black of the regency! Our heroine is beautiful in a low cut aqua dress with a white underdress. Her hair is curled as the fashion stated. She carries a plumed hat. It's interesting that Allan Kass is mentioned on the back cover of this book as the illustrator! The setting is soft and calm with the water behind the couple with green trees and blooming flowers.

Vauxhall Gardens was a place of merriment in London. You could get there by crossing the Thames in a boat or drive a carriage. It was open to anyone who could afford a ticket and was also famous for its dinners of shaved ham and rack punch. Dancing, singing, fireworks, and dark walking paths made this a popular outing site for couples. It was still popular during regency times but closed sometime later in the 1800's. Nowadays, there is a train station called Vauxhall in London!

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