Friday, April 3, 2009

Hillary's Book Club # 3

This book review is one near and dear to my heart. I got the recommendation from Cindy a while ago. She has told me this was the book that made her fall in love with reading. Now with a introduction like that how could I say no. And of course i LOVED it. How could i not, i mean its in my blood. So without any more intro i present....

Dragonwyck by Anya Seton

First published in 1944, Dragonwyck was a national bestseller that was made into a major motion picture starring Gene Tierney and Vincent Price in 1946. A classic gothic romance. The story begins in May 1844 with Miranda Wells, daughter of a humble farmer in Greenwich, Connecticut. Miranda's mother receives a letter from Nicholas Van Ryn, a rich relative and Patroon of a large manor called Dragonwyck near Hudson, New York. In the letter Van Ryn invites one of the Wells girls to Dragonwyck, to act as company for his daughter Katrine. After initial doubts, Miranda's parents allow her to go to Dragonwyck, and Miranda is instantly attracted and intrigued by her rich and mysterious relative, Nicholas. Her passion is kindled by the icy fire of Nicholas, the last of the Van Ryns, and a way of life of which she has only dreamed. Dressed in satin and lace, she becomes part of Dragonwyck, with its Gothic towers, flowering gardens, acres of tenant farms, and dark, terrible secrets.

However not everyone welcomes Miranda to Dragonwyck. Nicholas' corpulent and lazy wife Johanna sees Miranda as a threat, and tries to keep her from her husband Nicholas. Soon Miranda encounters Doctor Jeff Turner, a skilled physician, but a passionate anti-renter who believes that rich Patroons like the Van Ryns should give up their large estates. The pair initially dislike each other, and because of his views, Miranda is baffled when Nicholas asks Dr Turner to attend to his wife, who has a cold. However while Dr Turner is at Dragonwyck, Johanna becomes violently ill and dies. As Dr Turner leaves wondering what caused such a sudden death, Nicholas asks Miranda to marry him, and she accepts. While thinking this is the life she has always dreamed of, she comes to face a very different reality, one that now show her Nicholas's dark and twisted past.

This compelling novel paints a marvelous portrait of a country torn between freedom and feudal traditions; a country divided between the very wealthy and the very poor. Poor tenant farmers at Dragonwyck, the European royalty who visit, and American icons such as Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, and the Astors are vividly brought to life. This is a heart-stopping story of a remarkable woman, her breathtaking passions, and the mystery and terror that await her in the magnificent hallways of Dragonwyck.

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