This enjoyably over-the-top Gothic novel is so Gothic that I will italicize all the most Gothic elements of the plot.

Linda Martin, an orphaned young Englishwoman, is engaged as a governess for nine-year-old Phillippe, the child-heir of a huge brooding isolated hilltop chateau. Because she's supposed to teach him English, she does not mention that she speaks fluent French. This enables her to overhear sinister secrets. The head of the chateau looks like Lucifer, and is disabled due to a tragic and mysterious riding accident. His wife is cold, aristocratic, and has a heart condition for which she takes special medication. His dashing, handsome, yet possibly sinister son, Raoul, also an heir should Phillippe die, immediately becomes the possibly reciprocal object of the heroine's affections, although he just might be trying to kill her and/or Phillippe. A series of near-deadly accidents befall Phillippe. And then more Gothic stuff happens, but it's all spoilers from here on out. Lots of nicely-written French atmosphere, and although there's an annoying amount of "I love him! But I think he's trying to kill me! But I love him!", Linda is not a wuss.

When Lucifer calls Linda "Jane Eyre" I suspected Mary Stewart of commenting upon the genre, but it turned out that she was merely pointing out that she is aware of the genre. This is not a deconstruction of, parody of, or commentary on the Gothic genre, but merely a good example it.

Other books by Stewart on my shelf: Madam, Will You Talk?" and The Gabriel Hounds.

From: [identity profile] pameladean.livejournal.com


I'm haplessly fond of that book because the writing gets to me. She does amazing landscape and nature writing, and she also does children very well.

I like The Gabriel Hounds but it's rather preachy in weird ways. I'm haplessly fond of Madam, Will You Talk because of the landscape, the dog, the best friend, and the quotations. That a person is reading poetry is a serious point of character reconsideration, for example.

For whatever that's worth.

P.

From: [identity profile] desayunoencama.livejournal.com

:-)


"At breakfast!" said Louise in an awed voice. "A man who can read poetry at breakfast would be capable of anything."--Mary Stewart, MADAM, WILL YOU TALK? pg. 54

From: [identity profile] pameladean.livejournal.com

Re: :-)


ROFL.

That wasn't even the one I was thinking of! SEVERAL instances in which reading poetry is or is thought to be an indication of someone's character.

I love Louise.

P.

From: [identity profile] movingfinger.livejournal.com

Re: :-)


You know, Dodie Smith could have written that line too.

From: [identity profile] sartorias.livejournal.com


I love Madam Will You Talk for Les Baux, and for the car chase to Marseilles. And the wit. Oh yes the wit.

From: [identity profile] eegatland.livejournal.com


I too am a Mary Stewart fan from way back. I read all her books when I was about 20. There is a Disney live-action film of The Moonspinners! (the mind boggles)

From: [identity profile] faithhopetricks.livejournal.com


Because she's supposed to teach him English, she does not mention that she speaks fluent French

That's wonderfully classic, right there.

From: [identity profile] jonquil.livejournal.com


But the climax does directly comment on the genre: Linda realizes that she has forced the hero into the Dark Tormented Byronic mold, and that this is neither accurate nor fair.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


Hmm, yeah, you're right. He wasn't going to do the very melodramatic thing she expected him to do. Although everyone else behaves as their roles suggest right up to the end.

From: [identity profile] seajules.livejournal.com


I picked up a bunch of Mary Stewart mysteries in a used bookstore last summer. I read The Gabriel Hounds and Touch Not the Cat in high school and adored them.

I haven't had a chance to read more than This Rough Magic since picking up my mini-collection, but the nostalgic thrill for a stylized, rather rarefied life I never lived is still there.

From: [identity profile] oracne.livejournal.com


Ooh, and Touch Not the Cat. I loved the weird atomosphere it had. I think it was the first of her thrillers I read.

From: [identity profile] seajules.livejournal.com


After experiencing fandom, the psychic bond shared by the hero and heroine in that one especially tickles me.

And I think your comment below has it exactly right. Part of the appeal for me is that the very era in which the stories take place seems like its own kind of fantasy realm, not to mention the social circles in which the characters move.

From: [identity profile] oracne.livejournal.com


I was so into Mary Stewart when I was in high school and college. The school library had some of her books, and when I went to college, I found a bunch of them in hardcover at a used bookstore on campus (alas, the store is now gone). Mostly, the dated aspects didn't bother me at all, I think because I just viewed them as another fantasy world. One of my favorites is The Gabriel Hounds; also This Rough Magic, though the way the narrator views the Greek locals makes me shake my head.

From: [identity profile] movingfinger.livejournal.com


You have catapulted this book to the top of my must-read list.

Thank you.


I would mention that speaking fluent French is also kind of Gothic, or Romantic, or something... somehow. Goes back to the Brontes at least---I believe to Ann Radcliffe too, possibly Charlotte Smith. Romanticism? An effect of The Exotic Idealized French in the British Imagination?
.

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