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Flames   By: (1864-1950)

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Flames by Robert Smythe Hichens revolves around the lives of two main characters, Ivy and Ferdinand, and their passionate yet destructive love affair. Set in early 20th century Egypt, the novel takes readers on an emotional journey filled with desire, jealousy, and tragedy.

Hichens' writing style is immersive, painting vivid scenes of the sultry Egyptian landscape and the opulent society in which the characters reside. As the narrative unfolds, readers become entranced by the magnetism between Ivy and Ferdinand. Their fiery romance consumes them both, blinding them to the consequences of their actions and the impact on those around them.

One of the notable strengths of Flames is Hichens' ability to delve deeply into the complexities of human emotions. Ivy, a young and beautiful woman, is portrayed as a character torn between her love for Ferdinand and her desire for a life of passion and excitement. Ferdinand, on the other hand, is a charismatic and enigmatic figure whose charm hides a dark and tortured soul. Their intense love affair is both captivating and destructive, leaving readers torn between hoping for their happiness and fearing their ruin.

Throughout the novel, Hichens masterfully tackles themes of obsession, infidelity, and the destructive power of love. He explores the lengths to which individuals will go to hold onto an intoxicating love, saturating the narrative with a sense of intensity and urgency. The magnetic pull between Ivy and Ferdinand is palpable, keeping readers on edge, eagerly turning each page to discover what fate awaits them.

Yet, while the novel's depiction of their profound love affair is undeniably captivating, it is also its downfall. The story becomes somewhat predictable, following a familiar trajectory of forbidden love and its inevitably tragic consequences. At times, the characters' choices and actions feel contrived, sacrificing depth for dramatic effect. This tendency towards melodrama and predictability occasionally detracts from the overall impact of Hichens' storytelling.

Nonetheless, Flames remains a spirited and evocative novel, reflecting the conflicting desires and tempestuous emotions that lie within all of us. Hichens' lush descriptions and powerful prose make for an engrossing read, transporting readers to a time and place where passion and tragedy intertwine. It is an exploration of the human condition in all its complexity and serves as a cautionary tale of the perils of unchecked desire.

In conclusion, Flames is an engaging and emotionally charged novel that delves into the tumultuous nature of love and its potentially devastating consequences. While occasionally straying into the realm of melodrama, Hichens' skillful writing and exploration of deep-rooted emotions make it a worthy read for those seeking a passionate and introspective journey.

First Page:





This edition published July, 1906, by Duffield & Company




Refinement had more power over the soul of Valentine Cresswell than religion. It governed him with a curious ease of supremacy, and held him back without effort from most of the young man's sins. Each age has its special sins. Each age passes them, like troops in review, before it decides what regiment it will join. Valentine had never decided to join any regiment. The trumpets of vice rang in his ears in vain, mingled with the more classical music of his life as the retreat from the barracks of Seville mingled with the click of Carmen's castanets. But he heeded them not. If he listened to them sometimes, it was only to wonder at the harsh and blatant nature of their voices, only to pity the poor creatures who hastened to the prison, which youth thinks freedom and old age protection, at their shrieking summons. He preferred to be master of his soul, and had no desire to set it drilling at the command of painted women, or to drown it in wine, or to suffocate it in the smoke at which the voluptuary tries to warm his hands, mistaking it for fire... Continue reading book >>

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