I recently read The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley and loved it. It was an amazing book with wonderful characters and story lines. While I was reading it I knew nothing about its author and now that I do I feel that it’s only right that I preface my review of this book with some unsavory facts about Ms. Bradley. When I googled Marion Zimmer Bradley I came upon this Entertainment Weekly article and my jaw dropped. She has been accused by her daughter of abusing her sexually and physically. To make matters worse, her father was convicted on child molestation charges 20 years ago and Zimmer Bradley knew him to be a pedophile and did nothing. So, her daughter was molested and abused by both parents. This information casts such a dark shadow over this book for me and grappling with this is difficult.
Of course, there are fans of Ms. Bradley that want to dismiss the daughter’s accusations because why come forward now after her mother has been dead a while? Well, precisely because she is dead! When people dismiss an abuse victim’s accusations they become the very reason many abuse victims stay silent. They fear retribution and dismissal. For victims of abuse talking about it can bring healing and it is our responsibility to listen. It is statistically extremely rare for accusations of abuse to be false.
If this information puts you off this book (first in a trilogy I believe) I completely understand. Had I known about it beforehand it would have definitely affected my reading experience, and who knows maybe I would not have enjoyed it as much as I did. My issue right now is accepting that this wonderful book was written by a despicable human being. She did unspeakable things to her own child as well as others. Should I throw the baby out with the bathwater? I’m having a lot of mixed feelings about it.
Madison Vain wrote, “I didn’t realize how much comfort I take as a reader in assuming that I share a similar moral compass with an author. That doesn’t exist here, and adds a perpetual unease to the experience.” She wrote this in reference to discovering this sex abuse accusation and it really reflects my feelings.
Okay, so about the book. The feminist message is very compelling and the portrayal of young womanhood is elaborate and very well done. The Arthurian legend told from the point of view of the women of Avalon is a fascinating take. The book is an epic tale complete with love, betrayal, magic and war. The men rule on the surface but it’s the women who plot and manipulate behind the scenes, setting things in motion that raise and topple kings. The book is over 900 pages long and so it is no easy read but it kept my interest throughout.
My favorite character was Morgaine (Morgan La Fay) she went through horrible things, did horrible things but you couldn’t help root for her. Even though the Goddess was a symbol of female empowerment she herself subjugated women and placed them in horrible situations that served her purpose.
I don’t want to say much more as I don’t want to give away any plot points. If you can get past the provenance of this amazing work you are in for a treat.
For in-depth analysis and summaries you should visit this site. It is basically a study guide.