Beautiful Sorrow by DreamOfTheEndless
Review by IcarusToSun
Summary: Bella worshiped Carlisle, so when he proposed she didn't think twice before accepting. But then she met Edward, her fiancé's half brother & the other part of her soul. Will they be able to survive the consequences of their betrayal?
I stumbled upon Beautiful Sorrow by DreamOfTheEndless at the behest of a friend. It only had one chapter up at the time. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the summary, and read it more to appease a friend than out of sheer curiosity on my part. But it got me hooked from the very get go.
The story opens with a terribly broken and damaged Bella, and a deep insinuation of spousal abuse. As a reader, it nearly made me want to scream at the screen to find out what's holding her to the cage. There are many delicious little hints about a dark and soul-crushing life Bella is living without really giving any concrete answers as to why. As Chapter 1 progresses, we see Bella being treated for an eating disorder as well as alcoholism. She is under the constant supervision of a live-in nutritionist (Sylvia) and a shrink who comes to visit her twice a week (Dr. Angela Weber):
“Sylvia never gave an inch. That's why she was so good at what she did. She had an advanced degree in nutrition, and was trained to counsel patients with eating disorders. She'd been persuaded to take an unplanned sojourn from her flourishing practice for an inordinate amount of money to be Bella's personal nutritionist slash caregiver. Though she had the credentials to offer counseling, her work with Bella was strictly limited to nutrition. A therapist, Dr. Angela Weber, came by twice a week to tend to Bella's emotional and addiction issues. The very best money could buy.
Why check into rehab when rehab can come to you?” (ch 1)
We slowly discover that Bella is married to a much older man, Carlisle, who is incredibly wealthy. At least a part of her entrapment seems to rise from the fact that her family is financial indebted to him. To further muddy the waters, there is the ever present hole in the fabric of the story in the shape of a certain Edward. We only learn about him through fleeting references and snide remarks - from both Bella and Carlisle.
As the chapters unfold, we get to learn how once upon a time, Carlisle came to the rescue of a very distraught Swan family when Bella’s father, Charlie Swan, suffered an untimely stroke. Carlisle Cullen, who also was Charlie’s employer at the time, offered to pay all the medical bills and help the family stay afloat financially. His generosity appeared to be altruistic with very few strings attached (one of which was a strict confidentiality clause). With one sweeping move, he earned a permanent spot of reverence in Renee and Bella’s minds.
Bella is only 15 at the time and there’s no indication that Carlisle made any untoward or unsavory propositions to have her warm his bed. However, we do see Bella falling head over hills for Carlisle as if he was a Hollywood idol. The sweetness of her teen crush is endearing to see. The childish banter between Bella and her best friend, Alice, when she finds out about Bella’s fixation with a much older man is hilarious and rings true:
“"Why are you blushing? Jeez, Bella, do you have a crush on him? Eeew! That's sick! He's like a zillion years old!" Alice could read her friend's face well enough and saw no reason to cut back on expressing her disgust.
"No! Of course not! Are you crazy?" Bella denied vehemently. "And even if I did, which I don't, he's not that old," she added, unable to agree with Alice's appraisal of Carlisle. "And he looks fantastic," she emphasized.
"Yah, well he's still older than the dinosaurs!"
"He is not."
"No he's not, and he looks way better than your Leo!" Bella fought back, using Alice's near-stalker like obsession with Leonardo DiCaprio as her last resort.” (ch 7)
Despite her infatuation, Bella’s path isn’t destined to cross again with Carlisle’s until she is nearly 18. Due to a series of oversights on Bella’s part, the Swans find themselves in breach of the conditions Carlisle had laid down before them in return of his support. In a state of panic at the prospect of losing their lifeline Renee yells at Bella and blames her for their misfortune. Bella is stricken with remorse and pledges to make matters right for her family. And that is my guess as to how she gets to meet the illustrious Mr. Cullen once again.
The last posted chapter introduces Carlisle to the readers. We find him standing before a mirror in an introspective mood. We learn that his state of mind is not significantly better than Bella’s, even though he is the one who is wielding power in their relationship. He appears to be damaged beyond repair. He is ruled by the hate and fury over the betrayal he’d suffered at the hands of those he loved and trusted the most. It is evident that he has been cruel and depraved in his treatment of his wife. Yet, in his own way, he is just as broken as Bella:
“Gazing at himself now, he couldn't help but wonder whether it would have been better for all concerned if he was born to an average family of average means, and was gifted with average looks. Here he stood, with immeasurable wealth at his disposal and the fate of thousands resting on his whim, yet the only thing he could truly claim to have to his name was a gaping, raw wound that festered in his heart and spewed deadly, black venom day and night.” (ch 8)
Edward is conspicuously absent from the narrative so far and I am dying to find out how he fits into the picture. It is implied that Bella and Edward had an ill-conceived and poorly timed love affair that didn’t end well. But I am eager to learn the ‘why’, ‘where’, and ‘when’ of it all. Why did Bella marry Carlisle when she loved Edward? Why is Carlisle insisting on keeping her a prisoner? And most importantly, where is Edward?
The author, DreamOfTheEndless, is feeding us delicious, bite sized morsels of crumbs, always leaving the reader thirsting for more. On top of it all, the story is written with a lot of heart and I love how it’s not following a chronological timeline. The intriguing contrast it offers between the past and present versions of the characters is most fascinating. I love the slow (oh so very slow) build and the sad, matter-of-fact way the pain and sorrow of a broken woman -Bella - is laid out. I have a penchant to fall for angsty stories. The angst in Beautiful Sorrow is presented in the most exquisite and poignant way imaginable. Go and read the story; I have a strong feeling you will like it.