Saturday, September 4, 2010

Barbara Michaels: Someone in the House and a Note about Reviews

Hello, dear readers.

I know I'm posting reviews (sort of) fast and furious right now. The simple reason is that I'm interspersing reviews of some I've recently finished reading with ones I have read in the last year or so or over and over again. The number of posts will probably slow a bit in the coming week to a few a week, but I hope you are finding some new authors to try out and/or that you are enjoying reviews of old favorites. Please comment and let me know what you think! :)

I read this novel again back in March of 2008-- after many years. It was first published in 1981.

The thrust of the story is that Anne and Kevin are graduate students who stay in his parents' mansion, Grayhaven, in Pennsylvania for the summer. The interesting thing about the mansion is that it was transplanted years ago from Europe. That choice is quite original; I don't think I've ever encountered that particular set up before, but it lends itself to all sorts of possibilities.

Anne, Kevin, and the older couple in the novel, Kevin's Aunt Bea and Roger, end up together trying to solve a mystery about the house after seeing spirits and having strange things happen-- including sex with a ghost. Yes, it's really in there. This novel focuses solidly on pagan religions, Christianity (especially Catholicism as Bea is religious and Anne is not), theology, and history.

The ending is a surprise/twist that some might not like. I find the novel to be one of Barbara Michaels' most haunting because of it.

Characterization: 5/5 [I felt like I knew the characters; they are round and real. Anne I pictured as a bit homely or plain. Bea I pictured as Bea Arthur and Kevin as a 20 something Daniel Radcliffe.]

Plot: 4/5 [The suspense is strong, but the end is a bit unexpected.]

Atmosphere/spooky stuff: 5/5 [Yes, many supernatural/paranormal events and a question of what/who is evil, throughout.]

Literary: 5/5 [This one is smart, like all of Michaels' works. It will make you think about a variety of topics.]

Romance? Yes, with qualifiers. This novel does not follow the typical formula of boy meets girl, falls in love, all is well. One relationships lasts, and one doesn't, and it all hinges on setting.

**I highly recommend this novel. It is one of my favorites and is not at all formulaic. Michaels makes a brave plot choice with this one. What do you think? Is this one you have read and enjoyed or not? Would you consider reading it?

Rating: 4+ stars     ****.75


Alex and Lynn Ward said...

Hi there, just cruised on in from the gothic romance forun. Great blog and interesting take on the novel. Personally, I've found reading Barbara Michaels to be frustrating. She can set up such a great atmosphere but I've found the quality of her work to be inconsistent.
I'd be interested in how you think her hard line feminist characters fit into the gothic novel form. Lynn

lisalgreer said...

Hi, Lynn,

I know she drives a lot of people nuts. I just love her... I think it's the intellect behind or in the novels. I like all of her hard line feminist characters (even though I don't consider myself a hard line feminist-- just a feminist). I think it is a subversive thing to do: plop a hardcore, rational-minded, non-ghost believing, feminist down in the middle of a Gothic novel.

Wordpress Theme by wpthemescreator .
Converted To Blogger Template by Anshul .