Thursday, April 21, 2011

Phyllis A. Whitney: Woman Without a Past

I love the hard cover design of this novel. It looks like the Old South to me and is mysterious and wistful.

This novel was published in 1991 and is one of Whitney's later works. As I've mentioned before, I prefer her earlier gothic romance novels. Woman Without a Past didn't change my mind on that.

The novel moves slowly to its conclusion, and the most appealing character was Honoria Phelps.

Characterization 3/5: Twins are part of the central story here, and Whitney handles them well at first, but there is little tension after the first third of the novel. Honoria Phelps is spritely and easy to picture. I do like some of the names in the novel: Amelia Mountfort and Cecelia Mountfort-- very pretty.

Plot 3/5: The plot moved too slowly for me, and the abduction mystery just left me feeling "meh." I picked the novel up and put it back down many times. Also, Molly's meeting with Charles Landry was so contrived/annoying from the outset that it colored the rest of the novel for me.

Atmosphere/spooky elements 2/5: Very few. The twin thing and birthmarks, etc. was interesting, but there was little suspense or spookiness to the novel and that was with a "ghost," a pyschic, and more.

Literary elements 3/5: The history of Charleston, South Carolina is interesting. If you like Southern settings, you might check this one out. I'm not sure Whitney fully captured it, but she did a nice job with some of the details.

Romantic elements 3/5: I like the red herrings Whitney threw in early in the novel, but overall, this book wasn't terribly romantic. It's one that I would have liked a different ending/choice of lovers for.

Rating: almost 3 stars--  **+

I recommend this if you're a big fan of Southern settings (maybe) or a diehard Whitney fan.


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