The Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt
This gothic romantic suspense novel was published in 1960, and may remind readers of both Jane Eyre and Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca. Martha Leigh travels to Cornwall to begin her career as governess to Alvean TreMellyn, age 7, who lost her mother Alice a year earlier. Three other governesses have stayed only a short time in Mellyn, the mansion belonging to Lord Connan TreMellyn. Martha’s room is near Alvean’s room and the schoolroom, but she isn’t meant to dine downstairs with the family, even when guests visit. The house is huge, on a cliff overlooking the sea, with another manor house on the opposite cliff, where Peter Nansellock and his sister Celestine live. Peter quite likes Martha, but Celestine is more interested in Mellyn, and in Alvean, who is quite a handful. Martha gets Alvean interested in learning to ride a pony to impress her rather distant father. The mystery of Alice’s death is clever, the mansion atmospheric, and Connan is intriguing and slightly menacing. Martha has a romantic admirer that’s not totally believable, but rather predictable. This book, while a good read, does seem dated, although gothic novels, such as Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale, are still popular.
The Gabriel Hounds by Mary Stewart
Christy Mansel is shopping in Damascus when she sees her cousin Charles for the first time in years. Visiting the area with a tour group, Christy agrees to meet up with Charles in Beirut, Lebanon. Charles wants to visit their reclusive Great-Aunt Harriet in her remote palace, Dar Ibrahim. Christy hires a driver to go sightseeing, and gets a chance to meet Aunt Harriet, but only late at night. Harriet has little contact with her family in England or America, and is living in the crumbling palace with a staff of only three, and handsome John Lethman as companion. Something is clearly not right at Dar Ibrahim, and it isn’t the notorious gabriel hounds that guard the compound at night. Christy smuggles Charles in, and later gets kidnapped herself. An enjoyable gothic romantic suspense novel, with unexpected plot twists, and while somewhat dated, still a good read fifty years after it was published.
The Tuesday Morning Book Group will meet at 10 am on June 20 to discuss a book that was popular when the library was founded in 1967, Trustee from the Toolroom, by Nevil Shute. Published in 1960, this is the well-loved story of an British engineer who travels to the South Pacific to recover his young niece’s legacy. We will be meeting in the open area off the lobby, near the new books. Here’s a brief review about re-reading Nevil Shute.
On June 27 at 7 pm, the Tuesday Evening Book Group will discuss The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, by Phaedra Patrick. This is a contemporary novel about a man who find’s his late wife’s charm bracelet on the first anniversary of her death. Arthur doesn’t remember Miriam wearing the bracelet, and calls the phone number on a bejeweled elephant charm. Here is my earlier review.
The Crime Readers are on break until September. Happy summer reading!
Way Station by Clifford Simak
Enoch Wallace lives quietly on a farm in southwest Wisconsin. Except for serving in the Civil War, Enoch has lived in Wisconsin for all of his 140 years. Enoch, who looks 30, is given privacy by his neighbors, and his only regular contact is with the mailman. Well, his only human contact. Enoch runs a way station for interstellar travelers. He gets a message when to expect a visitor and what special requirements they have. Travel is by a sort of transporter. Enoch has regular visitors who have become friends, and this contact, along with his books and magazines make for a pretty satisfactory life. He also interacts with two 19th century holographic humans. The farmhouse has been remade to look old but is is impenetrable and basically indestructible. Enoch only ages when he leaves the farm house to take a daily walk around the property. One day a neighbor, a mute girl, needs his help, and his privacy is gone. Also, as is common in science fiction, the fate of the earth (and Enoch’s way station) is uncertain. A short, absorbing novel with a very likeable narrator; well worth reading. This novel was published in 1963, and won the Hugo Award in 1964.
Hotel by Arthur Hailey
Published in 1965, this is a thriller about five eventful days at the St. Gregory Hotel in New Orleans. Peter McDermott, the assistant general manager, typically spends much of his time dealing with one crisis after another, as he’s responsible for keeping the hotel running smoothly, but can’t make major changes. Christine Francis, assistant to hotel owner Warren Trent, is a bright spot in his day, as is a distressed guest, Martha Preyscott. During the week, Peter deals with problems in the kitchen, an ill guest housed in the hotel’s worst room, a convention of dentists threatening to leave, a thief, and the looming threat of the hotel being sold. Tycoon Curtis O’Keefe is visiting with his sweet girlfriend Dodo, and is deciding if the St. Gregory will become part of his bland, efficient, and impersonal chain of hotels. The city is briefly but vividly described, with most of the focus on a back stage view of the hotel, from the kitchens to the elevators to the incinerator room, offices, and parking garage. A hotel staff member is blackmailing guests who may be connected to a hit and run, and Peter can only how he’d like to run the hotel. An elevator accident, hinted at early in the book, brings the novel to a dramatic close. While somewhat dated, this is still a plot-driven page turner with just enough background on the minor characters to give them appeal without slowing the intensifying pace.
On May 16 at 10 a.m., the Tuesday Morning Book Group will discuss Everyone Brave is Forgiven, by Chris Cleave. This is a novel about World War II, set mostly in London and Malta, and was inspired by the experiences of the author’s grandfather and both grandmother’s during the war. Here is my earlier review.
The Tuesday Evening Book Group will meet at 7 p.m. on May 23 to discuss Odds Against, by Dick Francis. Published in 1965, this is a 50th anniversary program. This is the first mystery featuring Sid Halley, British steeplechase jockey turned private detective. Here is my review.
The Crime Readers will meet at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 18, to discuss The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell, featuring two women who work as typists for the NYPD in the 1920s. Crime Readers are co-sponsored by the Indian Prairie Public Library. Optional dinner is at 6 p.m.
Copies of these books are available at the Adult & Teen Services Reference Desk.
The Woodridge Public Library is celebrating its 50th birthday today, with a big party, cake and music. We’re having special events all year, and I’m leading at least two book discussions of titles popular in 1967, along with creating book displays. For March, many of these books were on display:
Mainstream Fiction Popular in 1967
Baldwin, James. Go Tell It On the Mountain
Bellow, Saul. Herzog
Burgess, Anthony. Clockwork Orange
Cadell, Elizabeth. Canary Yellow
Clavell, James. Tai-Pan
Du Maurier, Daphne. Flight of the Falcon
Faulkner, William. The Reivers
Fleming, Ian. You Only Live Twice
Gordon, Noah. The Rabbi
Goudge, Elizabeth. The Scent of Water
Grass, Gunter. The Tin Drum
Greene, Graham. The Comedians
Hailey, Arthur. The Hotel
Heller, Joseph. Catch-22
Holt, Victoria. Mistress of Mellyn
Kaufman, Bel. Up the Down Staircase
Kerouac, Jack. On the Road
Kesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Le Carré, John. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird
Levin, Ira. Rosemary’s Baby
Lofts, Norah. The House at Old Vine
MacInnes, Helen. The Double Image
MacLean, Alistair. Where Eagles Dare
Malamud, Bernard. The Fixer
Michener, James. The Source
Oates, Joyce Carol. The Garden of Earthly Delights
O’Connor, Edwin. All in the Family
Porter, Katherine. Ship of Fools
Potok, Chaim. The Chosen
Renault, Mary. The Mask of Apollo
Seton, Anya. Avalon
Smith, Betty. Joy in the Morning
Stegner, Wallace. All the Little Live Things
Steinbeck, John. The Winter of Our Discontent
Stewart, Mary. The Gabriel Hounds
Styron, William. Confessions of Nat Turner
Susann, Jacqueline. Valley of the Dolls
Updike, Leon. Topaz
Vidal, Gore. Washington, D.C.
Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. Cat’s Cradle
Wilder, Thornton. The Eighth Day
Wouk, Herman. Don’t Stop the Carnival