October is my favorite time of year. I love the perfect fall weather, the appearance of pumpkin/ apple spiced everything, and I totally love all the spooky stuff associated with Halloween. That’s why for this month’s book club, I recommended that we try a Gothic romance. So for October, we’ll be reading With This Curse by Amanda DeWees.
I cut my teeth on Gothics written by Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney before I ever picked up a romance novel, and in many ways Gothics were the precursor to the historical romance. Inspired by Jane Eyre and Rebecca, these books are often set on desolate moors and crumbling estates. The narrative comes only from the heroine’s POV, which help keeps the hero a mysterious, always intriguing and desirable (but also potentially menacing) figure at a distance. There is also frequently an element of the supernatural in these books: ghosts, curses, and shadowy figures feature heavily.
Set in Victorian Cornwall, With This Curse features a (you guessed it) cursed estate, and a heroine who returns to it years after she was banished. Clara Crofton was the daughter of the housekeeper at Gravesend, and at seventeen was sent away after a youthful fling with the family scion, Richard. Now, years later, Richard is dead and his brother Atticus wants Clara to return to Gravesend as his wife. With few prospects, Clara reluctantly agrees, but she finds Gravesend haunted by memories of Richard, and she dreads the Gravesend curse that causes the members of the Blackwood family to lose the thing they love the most. Even though their marriage started as one of convenience, Clara finds herself drawn more and more to her new husband and dreads the possibility of losing him to the curse. Hidden passages, malicious whispers down dark corridors, and mysterious letters make this book delightfully creepy.
If you’re unfamiliar with the title, here’s the description:
Can a curse strike twice in a woman’s life? In 1854, seventeen-year-old chambermaid Clara Crofton was dismissed from Gravesend Hall for having fallen in love with Richard Blackwood, the younger son of the house.
Alone in the world, Clara found a tenuous position as a seamstress, but she always blamed the Gravesend curse for the disaster that had befallen her–and for Richard’s death soon after in the Crimean War. Now, more than eighteen years later, Richard’s twin, Atticus, seeks out Clara with a strange proposal: if she will marry him and live with him as his wife in name only to ease the mind of his dying father, Atticus will then endow her with a comfortable income for the rest of her life. Clara knows that he is not disclosing his true motives, but when she runs out of options for an independent life, she has no choice but to become Atticus’s wife.
For Clara, returning to Gravesend as a bride brings some triumph… but also great unease. Not only must she pretend to be a wellborn lady and devoted wife to a man whose face is a constant reminder of the love she lost, but ominous portents whisper that her masquerade brings grave danger. “This house will take from you what you most treasure,” her mother once warned her. But the curse has already taken the man Clara loved. Will it now demand her life?
With This Curse is also available digitally for $3.99! Not bad. Not bad at all!
The date for the chat will be announced later in the month! Looking forward to discussing the book with all of you!
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