Saturday, September 25, 2010

Jill Tattersall: Lady Ingram's Room

 From Sebastian Quinn's wonderful flickr page

I love the cover of this one, published in 1972; it is spooky and creative with the cobwebs and brightly colored dresses.

In the novel, Arabel Murray is an orphan with only Bridie, the housekeeper, for a friend. She must move out of the vicarage she was in with her mother, sister and grandfather (all of whom are now dead) and live with an uncle who is known to be tyrannical. In so doing, she leaves her childhood love, Giles, and her loved home.

The novel follows a few threads in a Dickensian style; for example, ne'er do wells Jason and Zelda make an appearance in chapter two and play a role in the novel.

Arabel is a likable heroine-- sprightly and spunky; she also has a stammer which is an interesting and unusual touch that makes her seem real. On her way to her uncle's house, her plans change, and she and Solomon, her cat, end up going to Ingledale Manor to be a governess temporarily for Sir Luke.  Mysterious things happen, and Arabel finds herself trying to solve the secret of Lady Ingram's room and of her death.

Characterization: 4/5 [The characters are clearly drawn. I picture Arabel portrayed by a young Diane Keaton, and Sir Luke as Javier Bardem. Scott Scott-Ingram (What a name!), another potential love interest, I pictured as Adrian Brody. Both the hero and heroine are likable, and I was quite taken with the hero which is always a good sign for a Gothic Novel in my book.]

Plot: 4/5 [The start is a bit slow, but I like the interesting narrative style and points of view in the novel.]

Atmosphere/spooky elements: 4/5 [Arabel herself looks like a witch with her black cat. Superstition is referred to in the novel, and the description of the windows at Ingledale Manor actually gave me the creeps. The secret room is inventive and different in its treatment in the novel, and that element along with tunnels and a ghoulish tapestry add to the spooky thrills.]

Literary elements: 4/5 [This one is written in a sophisticated way in terms of multiple narrators/points of view and stands out for that, much like the other The Wild Hunt that I reviewed a week or so ago, though Hunt is more sophisticated overall. I think that might be because of the two years between these novels; it is nice to see that this author honed her craft as she went. Another thing I like about her writing is that the dialogue is also believable.]

Rating: 4 stars ****

I recommend this one for its inventiveness and lovable heroine as well as the secret room aspect. I like it when authors in the genre do something new or inventive.

Lady Ingram's Room


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