Apr 16, 2017

Shadows of the Past - Carmen Stefanescu

Published in 2012 and written by Romanian author Carmen Stefanescu.
Anne, a young businesswoman living in 1990, has recently made up her mind on giving her ex-fiancé another chance after a two-year separation. For this purpose they went on a holiday trip together to try to spice things up. They took a walk around the forest and a few hours later they realized they were lost.

Going around in circles they came across with a skull hidden in a hollow tree containing a gem encrusted cross. The sight evokes a vision in Anne who could see a past scene of two women dressed in nun robes. Anne felt uncomfortable in the presence of the oldest woman but could sense the desperation coming from the younger one.

Visions tormented Anne during the whole journey, she kept dreaming of the young nun begging for her help and guiding her to follow the clues she had left for Anne to figure out their meaning; being the cross one of them. 

My score:

Back in time, 1480, there's Genevieve, a young nun trying to escape from the wicked abbess who wants her dead for having fallen in love with father Andrew. The abbess obsessively despised them both not only for conceiving a forbidden love but also because he refused to be seduced by the abbess herself. Now she attempts to put an end to their relationship and to their lives as well.

Another brilliant work of Carmen Stefanescu! Two parallel stories in one with no apparent relation but a deep-rooted connection between Anne and Genevieve. Two plots that contrast life in very different contexts and time; feels like reading two different books at the same time that alternates chapters accordingly.

Anne's story portraits a cynical cheating boyfriend who asks for a second chance while the reader wonders why would she even bother; from my point of view he's the typical bastard that doesn't deserve such condescendence. Gotta read the conversation between them when Anne caught them in bed together...; well written narrative with a hint of wisdom and humorous speech. 

On the other side I find Genevieve's story more touching and dramatic (which I liked better) considering she had a lot of hardships throughout her life, she had to confront disgrace from a very early age. There's a clear disparity between Anne and Genevieve lives at this point: Genevieve had to run for her very life in more than one occasion, and on top of that she fell deeply in love with a priest; a sin that won't be left unpunished and certainly not at that time. Meanwhile, Anne was trying to meet someone's whims and fancies.

One of the main characters I have to mention here is the evil abbess, Sister Clementa. This woman is like no other, this is a real witch with no principles or pity in her heart. She will do whatever it takes in order to lead a licentious life and get away with it, she will celebrate rites in her own room and will take control over the abbey to fulfill her twisted desires. These scenes are richly described, the author knows exactly how to inflict that sense of uncanny shock and disturbing sights that will leave you unsettled.

We get to know a lot about Anne and Neil relationship, though I felt we didn't get to know much about Genevieve and Andrew. Not sure if the author should have offered more details about it or simply relationships in those circumstances and time did not have the occasion or way to develop further and we should straightly assume they loved each other dearly even if they didn't spent much time together.

All in all great book, I won't tell you the end but, prepare for an astonishing one, it's definitely worth it! 

Guess I became a fan of Carmen Stefanescu's books as I will continue reading her stories. 

For more about this author read Till Life Do Us Part review.


  1. Thank you, greatly, Edna for the lovely words on Shadows of the Past!
    I am so glad you enjoyed my story, and thank you for becoming my fan!
    I really appreciate it.

    1. I've loved your books so far and I can't wait to read the next one!