Bluebeard’s Castle is a Gothic suspense novel that relates the story of the fairy tale “Bluebeard” in an updated setting, featuring a husband with dark secrets and a wife in peril. It takes inspiration from Gothic novels such as Rebecca, Dracula, and Jane Eyre, and from classic Hollywood thrillers such as GASLIGHT and ROSEMARY'S BABY, to examine currently urgent issues about male violence and female desire.
While on holiday in Cornwall, Judith, a young, wealthy British mystery writer, meets and falls in love with Gavin, a handsome and charming baron. His love transforms her from a plain, lonely girl into a beautiful, glamorous woman overnight. After a whirlwind honeymoon in Paris, he whisks her away to a Gothic castle in the countryside. But soon her perfect marriage begins to fall apart and she finds herself trapped in a nightmare, as her husband’s mysterious nature, and his alternation of charm and violence, become more and more confusing and frightening.
As Judith battles both internal and external demons, including sexual ambivalence, psychological self-torture, gaslighting, family neglect, alcoholism, and domestic abuse, she becomes more and more addicted to her wild beast of a husband, and more and more determined to tame him. The book poses the question: "Why do women stay with bad men?" The answer is contained within the tortured mind of the protagonist, whose richly layered fantasy life is parallel to that of the female romance novel reader.
The concept first began as a screenplay (and is still in development as a movie), and the book is the result of years of research and thinking. Like my film work, it combines outdated genres and styles (in this case, literary rather than cinematic styles), with deeply personal experiences and current cultural concerns, to create a work that is entirely new.
The novel is set to be published in autumn 2023 by Verso Books. In the meantime, you can read more about the novel here.