Friday, September 30, 2011

Lord of Far Island by Victoria Holt

The past is never far behind.…

Ellen Kellaway, orphaned at age five, was raised by wealthy cousins, but was never allowed to forget that her every advantage was owed to the charity of others.  However, when the son of a powerful London family asks for her hand in marriage, her world is opened up to untold wealth and social position. She never imagined that such an unlikely dream would come true.

Despite these wonderful new developments in her life, Ellen continues to be wracked by the bad dreams that have haunted her since childhood.  What is the meaning of the lifelong nightmare—the image of an unfamiliar room, a door opening and behind it a dreadful presence? Perhaps it is a message urging her to uncover the secrets of her long-lost family—the secrets of the ancient home of the Kellaways on the Far Island, off the wild coast of Cornwall.

The dream disturbed my sleep on the eve of Esmeralda's coming-out ball. It was not the first time I had had that dream. It had come to me periodically over my nineteen years. There is something vaguely alarming about these recurring dreams because it seems certain that they have a significance which one has to discover.

When I awoke from it I would be trembling with terror and I could never be entirely sure why. It was not exactly the dream itself, but the impression it brought of impending doom.

I would be in a room. I knew that room very well by now, for it was always the same each time I dreamed. It was an ordinary kind of room. There was a brick fireplace, on either side of which were chimney seats, a red carpet and heavy red curtains. Over the fireplace was a picture of a storm at sea. There were a few chairs and a gate-legged table. Voices came and went in the dream. I would have a feeling that something was being hidden from me; and suddenly there would come this overpowering sense of doom from which I would awake in horror.

Book Detail
First published in 1975
Reissued in 2009
329 pages

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On a Personal Note:
This isn't the first gothic romance book I ever read, but it is the very first Victoria Holt novel I had the pleasure of reading. I was told by my editor when I contracted my first book that my writing style was very reminiscent of the great Victoria Holt's. It was completely unintentional since I'd never before read her books. Being a bookseller for several years, I had heard of her and in fact had recently received several reissued copies of Lord of Far Island in the store. So I figured I'd better read some of her books to expose myself to her style of story-telling so I could understand what my editor was talking about. Upon reading Lord of Far Island, I could immediately tell from her writing that Ms. Holt was a great Brontë fan (I am, too!). And, I fell in love with the gothic tones of her story-telling from the first person point-of-view (which is my favorite!) to the mysterious dark stranger and of course the gloomy setting of Cornwall and the island that the heroine is virtually trapped on because of the rough seas keeping her from the mainland. There are secret passageways, seemingly paranormal events, and a passionate love story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I'd recommend it to any historical gothic romance fan!

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