The Down and Dirty
Martha Leigh is our erstwhile heroine who, lacking a husband and in a bit of a financial quagmire, takes the obligatory governess job for the mysterious and wealthy Connan Tremellyn who lives on the great Mellyn estate conveniently located on the romantic moors in Cornwall. Of course, all is not what it seems when Miss Leigh arrives and in addition to caring for a motherless child, there are family secrets to be uncovered and danger lurking around every corner.
In short, we can summarize Mistress of Mellyn in this way:
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (remember Manderlay?)The Literary Criticism
Eleanor Hibbert, this time writing as Victoria Holt, turned out an especially good novel with Mistress of Mellyn. (For all you historical fiction fans, Eleanor also wrote under the pen name of Jean Plaidy.)
The story, as brilliantly illustrated by yours truly above, is a tasty combination of Jane Eyre and that classic gothic Du Maurier romance, Rebecca. So much so that the first half of the novel reads with a hovering sense of deja vu. And although the villainous culprit isn't too hard to identify (I had them pegged by Chapter Four), this doesn't detract from Holt's sense of good, old-fashioned storytelling.
This book is, without a doubt, what I like to call a comfort book. One that doesn't require fancy prose or literary dissection. Just grab a blanket, curl up by the fire, and enjoy the read.
Originally published in 1960, Mistress of Mellyn is still a staple of the Gothic Romance genre and a must-read, especially now that the novel is being re-issued by St. Martin's this month.
But be sure to get your hands on a copy before winter is over....this novel is especially satisfying with cold temperatures outside and a cozy fire inside.
By the by....if any of you crazy Brits out there know the correct pronunciation of Mellyn, please pass it along. I'm tired of the reading voice in my head pronouncing it "Mistress of Melon."
Makes me snicker every time.
And I'm relatively certain Ms. Holt did not intend this novel to be a comedy.
And many thanks to Amy at Passages to the Past who sent me this book for Christmas. (You rock!)
Title: Mistress of Mellyn
Author: Victoria Holt
Publisher: St. Martin's
Date: January 2008 (reissue)
Other Reviews in Blogland:
Genre Go Round Reviews
A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore
A Book Blogger's Diary
For the Love of Reading