I'm feeling highly unsatisfied by the end of the novel. A lot of loose ends are left flapping in the breeze. And that nice grunt of satisfaction I emit when I finish a book refused to rise to my lips.
I'm not saying all literature has to have a neat, perfect ending in which everyone gets what they deserved and all plot lines are closed. Authors may use their artistic license as they please. But I certainly expected the classical Jane Austen-style writing of Ruiz de Burton to deliver as it had promised.
Mr. Hackwell sort of fades into the horizon, his retribution seeming mild. I wanted to see him suffer....he was no ambiguous, conflicted villain; he was clearly possessed by greed and lust, he was capable of the worst treachery without thinking twice. He should have been disgraced in front of society, made to plead and cry and feel the pain he inflicted upon others.
The reunion and imminent romantic bliss of Julian and Lola was left largely unmentioned, apart from a few basic sentences. The whole novel, I longed for them to have some explosion of passion and joy after so many trials...I'm not saying I wanted a sex scene (it can't be expected from a book like this, sadly), I just wanted all their goodness to come back to them, for them to be rewarded for being so pure and kind and moral.
The return of Doctor Norval, the beloved and benevolent patriarch, was hardly described. The mystery of his disappearance was left a mystery. His reactions to all that had happened in his absence, which I awaited eagerly, were omitted. He was such a big character in the first half that I expected much, much more.
On a lesser level, the weak and greedy Cackles continue their shenanigans in the government without any recognition of their blatant idiotic political ladder-climbing, and Ruth gets to marry a rich Cackle and continues with her superficial life.
Only Mrs. Norval losing her mind satisfied slightly my hunger for retribution. Even in her insanity, the kind Doctor protects her and keeps her from going into a mental institution.
And don't ask me WHAT was the deal with the last few pages.....Ruiz de Burton's political commentary getting out of hand and taking over the plot and becoming tedious. A bit of a disappointment.
But maybe Ruiz de Burton's intent was for us (or people in those days) to see that this stuff would continue on and on...that the bad guys don't always get what they deserve and neither do the good guys. That corruption and materialism and inequality are realities that transcend all time periods. And I see her point. I just wanted a Hollywood ending.