When the cold is record-breaking (20 degrees below zero), we stay indoors. I managed to finish two books, Margaret Oliphant’s The Marriage of Elinor and Anne Maybury’s The Minerva Stone.
The neglected Victorian writer Margaret Oliphant is consistently workmanlike, sometimes great. Her well-plotted novels are riveting. I think of her as the female Trollope: indeed, her Chronicles of Carlingford, set in the fictional country town of Carlingford, were inspired by Trollope’s Barsetshire series.
What if Philip decides he wants his son, Pippo? And what will be the consequences if Elinor doesn’t tell Pippo?
This is a common Victorian heroine’s nightmare in fiction. In Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, a mother flees to an isolated country house to protect her son from an alcoholic father; in Trollope’s He Knew He Was Right, a father kidnaps their son.
The second half feels a little rushed, but the structure is a perfect ring composition. Oliphant supported her extended family by her prolific writing, and I suspect she didn’t have time to develop the ideas–particularly the ending. Still, a good read!
The jacket copy says:
THE HAUNTING STORY OF A SUMMER OF TERROR–AND LOVE–IN A BEUATIFUL DORSET CASTLE
How fun is that!
Sarah Palfrey’s marriage to egomaniac TV interviewer Niall Rhodes is in crisis. She is staying at her childhood home Guinever Court, a comfy castle by the sea, while Niall is out of the country. Her family is artistic, loud, and emotional: her father Kestrel Palfrey, an artist, hates Niall; Freda, her stepmother, a former opera singer, is an earth mother; her father’s helpless first wife, Polly, and handicapped daughter by another man, Dido, live there because Polly can’t make a living; and Sarah’s other siblings drop in and out.
Tune in and find out!
And this is another one with a weird ending. More post-modern than Gothic. I will tell you no more!
N.B. This is not in the class of Mary Stewart’s books! I’d say it’s third-tier Gothic. Nonetheless, I loved the last hundred pages.