Review: Mistress of Mellyn

Mistress of Mellyn, by Victoria Holt

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:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte


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.

Our Recommendation

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
ISBN-13: 978-0312384159
336 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's
Date: January 2008 (reissue)

Other Reviews in Blogland:

Genre Go Round Reviews
A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore
Romance Reviewed
A Book Blogger's Diary
For the Love of Reading


  1. Aw, I love comfort books. I don't read them all that often, but I need to. They're good for the soul!

    BTW, I really love your fun and creative style of writing. You're very entertaining to read!

  2. I must have read this years ago in high school, for I read all the Victoria Holt's back then, I just devoured them when I was 14 - my first foray into romantic novels! I can't remember this one in particular, but I do seem to recall that most of them seemed to have this plotline. To be honest they all just mashed together, I read them so quickly and faithfully. I know what you mean about a comfort book in the winter. How a propos for this time of year!

  3. Sandy - I agree on the comfort books. Sometimes they restore our reading fortification and clear the mind for the in-depth stuff, LOL.

  4. Sandy - I agree on the comfort books. Sometimes they restore our reading fortification and clear the mind for the in-depth stuff, LOL.

  5. Cool! I just got this one to review, and I was looking forward to it. I remember liking her Victoria Holt books way back when!


  6. Do I remember Manderlay? Last night I dreamt . . .

    Anyway, I've read and like Jean Plaidy, so perhaps I'll give this one a try -- sounds like a good one for lazy afternoon.

  7. Perfect review my dear, as usual! I too liked this book very much when I read it and your analogy is spot on!

    Now if only someone could PLEASE tell us the correct pronunciation that would be super! Until then Mistress of Melon it is!

  8. Great review Michele. I love comfort reads and this one sounds so good. I'm going to check if the library has it maybe or more likely just pick up a copy. I could sure use it now, we've been getting snow and more snow over the past week. It's the perfect time to snuggle in with a comfort read.

  9. I've run across a couple of books and films lately that seem to be a mixture of Jane Eyre and Rebecca. I was pronouncing it Mel-lynn in my head but it still sounds the same out loud as melon lol.

  10. Jane Eyre and Rebecca? Sounds like something worth checking out.

  11. I do love a good gothic novel, so I'm adding this to my already huge wish list!

    I need good warming books this week, it is supposed to struggle to get above 0 (yes, that is a zero!) Today's high was a balmy 9. Aaaggh!


  12. This sounds like a great read. I'm intrigued by the Jane Eyre and Rebecca similarities. Thanks for the recommendations.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  13. I'm definitely adding this to my TBR list!! I loved Jane Eyre and Rebecca and would love a little more.

  14. Gothic novels - especially old gothic novels - are such a guilty pleasure. Love 'em!

  15. I think I read all Victoria Holt's books starting about 35 years ago - they were pure escapism. The covers always had that sort of exotic location and impending doom look which made them all the more intriguing.Of course, you can never read Rebecca too many times. It's just not possible! teriffic review.


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