The Beguiled by Thomas Cullinan (EPUB)
The basis for the major motion picture directed by Sofia Coppola–named best director at the Cannes Film Festival for The Beguiled–and starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning
“[A] mad gothic tale . . . The reader is mesmerized with horror by what goes on in that forgotten school for young ladies.” —Stephen King, in Danse Macabre
Wounded and near death, a young Union Army corporal is found in the woods of Virginia during the height of the Civil War and brought to the nearby Miss Martha Farnsworth Seminary for Young Ladies. Almost immediately he sets about beguiling the three women and five teenage girls stranded in this outpost of Southern gentility, eliciting their love and fear, pity and infatuation, and pitting them against one another in a bid for his freedom. But as the women are revealed for what they really are, a sense of ominous foreboding closes in on the soldier, and the question becomes: Just who is the beguiled?
It’s a hell of a page turner , and Cullinan is a master of ratcheting the psychological tension to the point where I couldn’t put it down. It was a slow burning, literal chemise-ripping, southern gothic fanfare. I loved all the ladies individually with their separate personalities and special talents. Even the adults added their own southern spice to the dramatic gumbo of The Beguiled. Corporal John McBurney may have tasted from the forbidden fruit but he definitely paid for it. There’s so much psychological tragedy going on in the novel, and while the film version didn’t spare the horror, it’s of a different variety altogether than what’s in the book.
The Beguiled was a fantastic read that I extremely enjoyed with a fair film adaptation. If you like drama, cattiness, and dangerous flirtation all tied up in a Civil War yellow ribbon: this is the book for you. It was written by a man but he perfectly captured the desperate measures girls will take when a handsome man turns up during a Y chromosome drought. Just don’t go breaking their hearts or you’ll pay the price…