on 10 September 2010
I've read a lot of Victoria Holt's books, but since even libraries no longer have them and they are largely out of print, I now get them mainly on ebay. However I was pleased to find a fairly recent edition of this one in an independent bookshop recently, and found it reasonably enjoyable, and refreshingly different from her other books.
For a start, this one benefits from having two narrators, and as such, two female heroines instead of the usual one. All the usual VH ingredients are there - a character (in this case two) that you care about, interesting locations and a slightly zany plot.
Secondly, in this book the author dispenses with her usual outrageous plots and instead we get a storyline that is much more believable but just as compelling.
The only negative (and it's a sizeable one, sufficient to downgrade from 4 to 3 stars)is that it's very hard to believe that anyone in Nora's or Stirling's positions would act as they do. The relationships are just too complex, too contorted. Furthermore, the vilain is so predictable. I won't say more on this so as not to spoil the suspense for anyone new to the author. It wouldn't spoil it for those used to her books, though, because it's so obvious.
All in all, a good safe bet for anyone who has enjoyed some of her other works. For anyone who hasn't heard of her, she also wrote under the name of Jean Plaidy.
Thomas Tamasin spends his life chasing rainbows and leaves his daughter Nora firmly ensconced at school as he chases the biggest one of all and heads for the gold fields of Australia. He soon dies and leaves Nora in the care partner/employer Charles Herrick - also known as The Lynx for his dominating personality. Charles's son Stirling arrives in England to escort Nora to Australia, but they make a curious stop at a country estate called The Whiteladies (named for the nunnery it had been at one time) and Stirling seems to have a strange interest in the estate and it's inhabitants. Stranger still, when Nora arrives in Australia the Herrick home is a copy of Whiteladies.
Nora soon discovers that The Lynx has a mysterious past of his own, falsely accused of theft in England and deported to Australia as a criminal. As the Herrick family's fortune increases it leads them ever closer to the obsession of Charles - enacting financial havoc on those he blames for his false conviction. Nora and Stirling return to England with Stirling bent on completing his father's plans for revenge. They soon insert themselves into the lives of the residents of Whiteladies as Nora fights to stop Stirling before his lust for revenge destroys all their lives.
Whew, that's more plot description than I care to give but there's not much on the product page. I found this book a bit slow paced at times and a tad too predictable, especially the murder attempts on Minta. I also found the alternating POV's between Sara and Minta in the latter part of the book quite distracting. A nice comfort read for a rainy day - it's a good book, just not a great one. 3/5 stars.
on 24 February 2008
I have red many of VH books (not all yet) but this one stands out! I was positively surprised - the characters were complex and interesting, turn of events surprising and not very traditional for VH books... I liked the sparkling dialogues and main heroine Nora. Some people in their reviews were critical, especially because of complicated love relationships in the book, the comments were that it was unconvincing. But I find that on the contrary - more close to the real life were very rarely true love comes as "I met, I fell in love and lived happily ever after..." I enjoyed the book very much. My only comment /wish would be that the character of Franklyn would be revealed better otherwise in comparison with other characters in the book it was flat and boring.