My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A lot of fun. Very gothic and baroque, with dense descriptions, the stories feel both of their time and out of time. Her love of Italy and art shine through all the stories – she was also known for her writing about aesthetics and her travels through Europe, especially Italy, and her knowledge in these areas provide the density, the colour, the richness.
Possibly the best of the stories for me were “A Wedding Chest” and “Amour Dure”. The final story, “The Virgin of the Seven Daggers”, I found a little clumsy, as if it wasn’t quite sure whether it wanted to be humorous or serious, and didn’t quite maintain the style of the other stories. All the stories, however, have something to commend them — riots of descriptive prose, for example, provide pools of interest.
Of course, these stories are unlikely to shock or scare a modern audience, but the best of them have the feel of fairy-tales, a kind of timeless quality.