Monday, October 24, 2016

Going Gothic...

Anya Seton's Dragonwyck has the same Gothic atmosphere and underlying tension as Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. This historical fiction novel is set in 1844 in the Hudson River Valley, where many old Dutch families settled on large estates they called manors. Into this old-world and monied luxury comes a young farm girl from Connecticut.  Poor Miranda Wells. At 18, she's naive and unsophisticated and longs for a life beyond the narrow confines of her father's strict morality. She dreams of adventure, travel, and romance. So when her cousin, Nicholas Van Ryn, invites her to stay at Dragonwyck with him and his wife, Johanna, she begs her parents to allow her to go. Somewhat reluctantly, they agree.

For Miranda, life with the Van Ryn's is like entering another world.  "...her first sight of Dragonwyck was the most vivid and significant impression of her life. She stared at the fantastic silhouette which loomed dark against the eastern sky, the spires and gables and chimneys dominated in the center by one high tower; and it was as though the good and evil, the happiness and tragedy, which she was to experience under that roof materialized into physical force and struck across the quiet river into her soul."

It doesn't take long before Miranda is enamored of her handsome, well-educated and worldly cousin. Nicholas is very charming when he wants to be, although he can also be very cold and cutting. He is a man who is a little "too polite" to his obese, dull wife; a man with hidden depths of violence. But Miranda can't help falling in love with him. There is both mystery and romance, tragedy and drama, in this Gothic novel. And Seton's writing is amazing. Even when I could see exactly where this story was headed, I couldn't put it down.

Happy Reading!


16 comments:

  1. I have not thought about Anya Seton in years! I read her historical novel Katherine years ago! It is one reason I've had an interest in John of Gaunt over the years. Dragonwyck sounds like a great read for this time of year when I especially enjoy Gothic novels.

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    1. She's a good writer. And if you like a classic Gothic novel...this fits that category.

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  2. I read this a few years ago and I liked it too - I thought the setting was interesting and I loved the atmosphere. I've read four or five of Anya Seton's other books and enjoyed them all, particularly Katherine.

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    1. Good to know. I think I'd like to read more of her books, and it sounds like Katherine is the one to read next. :)

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  3. Hmmm. I've never heard of this one. I'm intrigued. I do love gothic tales!

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    1. This one has that slow build of tension that you find in a lot of classic gothic stories.

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  4. Sounds good! And maybe a contender for my 2017 Back to the Classics challenge? My library doesn’t have Dragonwyke, but I will keep my eyes open when used book shopping. The library does have Katherine available, however.

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    1. People say Katherine is a really good read, and it would let you know if you like Seton's writing enough to search out Dragonwyck. Either one would work for your Back to the Classics challenge next year. Happy reading! :)

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  5. This sounds so good! Love the atmospheric setting and the premise. Will add this to my wishlist. :)

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    1. Hope you get a chance to read it...and that you like it!

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  6. I enjoyed this book and wish I could see the movie. I stalled in the middle of Katherine, but I should try it again.

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    1. I didn't know there was a movie; that would be good to see.

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  7. It sounds very good, and as you can imagine, I especially like the idea of a Dutch connection! :-)
    I will put this on my list, so thank you very much for the tip, I have never heard of this writer.

    Kind regards,

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    1. The Dutch history in the New York area is really interesting; I would have liked to read more just about that. :)

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  8. I loved Katherine by Anya Seton, and have Green Darkness on my TBR shelf, but I haven't heard of this one--sounds absolutely delicious. The setting and timeframe are both perfect and work perfectly for the gothic genre. I visited Sleepy Hollow a few years ago and loved the atmosphere in the Hudson Valley.

    Great choice for the season!

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    1. I would love to visit Sleepy Hollow and the Hudson River Valley...what a fun trip! Having just read Dragonwyck makes me want to go there even more. :)

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