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The Shrouded Walls (2010)

The Shrouded Walls (2010)
3.41 of 5 Votes: 2
0751533939 (ISBN13: 9780751533934)
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The Shrouded Walls (2010)
The Shrouded Walls (2010)

About book: My Summary: Marianne and her brother Alex had no idea that their parents had not made any plans for them in the case of their deaths. Now, orphaned and destitute, the twins have no choice but to fend for themselves. Marianne's only choices -- being the illegitimate child of a high-ranking politician -- are to become a governess or to get married, lest her brother be forced to join the army. Enter Axel Brandson. A wealthy foreigner, he requests that Marianne become his wife so that he may fulfill the terms of his father's will and inherit the land left to him. She accepts, and all seems well until she reaches the secluded family home that happened to be the scene of a gruesome murder: Axel's father's. And the murderer may or may not be living under the same roof. One thing is certain, though: every member of the family benefitted in some way from Axel's father's death, and they'll also benefit from Marianne's .... My Thoughts: I read this book almsot eight years ago and adored it. It was like nothing I'd ever read before, and it introduced me to the word of gothic lit. I found it in a discarded box of books outside the library and decided to give it a shot. A few days ago I rediscovered it as I cleaned up my bookshelves and decided to see if I would enjoy it the second time around. Needless to say, twelve year old me was not wrong. Susan Howatch's writing is timeless, pulling you in and not letting go.Marianne's predicament sounds like the opening of an Austen novel, but it soon becomes clear that she is caught up in a lot more than a simple family drama. The plot is complex and the writing is detailed, yet not too filled with adjectives and descriptions so as to bore the reader. It was a fairly short novel, but it never felt rushed or hurried.Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys gothic lit and anyone who enjoys a good mystery. This book is proof that newer is not always better when it comes to books!

If I was to hazard a guess, I'd say "The Shrouded Walls" was an early effort of Howatch's. The plot is textbook Gothic, with a murder (or a few) the tragic orphan, married at age 17 to a 34 year old man she doesn't know, and the house where no one wants her.The plot tends to rush a bit, and the dialogue is pretty weak, and the grasp on history and social mores is pretty thin (seriously, Charles I was married to Henrietta Maria, not Charles II) which again, leads me to believe this is early Howatch. But, it does show where her talent as a writer lie, with potential family sagas, don't read this expecting Cashelmara or Wheel of Fortune, you'll be disappointed. If however, you want a fast reading little pot boiler, you'll enjoy this.
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The Shrouded Walls and The Dark Shore were two novellas in one hardback. While the first was a "pre-Victorian" Victorian suspense work, the second was placed in a later, more modern timeframe--still having that Victorian murder mystery suspense in its plot. Howatch does a good job in each of these to maintain the suspense, but there is often the "No one saw her" devise used to forward the plot when, as we suspect, someone did see the heroine take some action. So when she seems surprised by the result that that someone shows up to save her, we are bemused at how clueless she seems. Neither are as accomplished as Penmarric, but still good reads.
Lisa Greer
I am really enjoying Howatch's work. I don't know how I've overlooked her all these years. I am a huge fan of gothic novels, and this one is right up my alley so far. I see that she has written quite a few, and I have checked some of them out from the library already, too. :) I am always happy when I find an author who is like Barbara Michaels (gothic supernatural or gothic) or at least something like her. Ok, she has potential. Not as good as Michaels.. yet anyhow... but I'll be reading more by her.
Hannah wrote: "Laura wrote: "I couldn't put it down!!!"Don't you just love that kind of book? They're not easy to find, but when you do, it's wonderful."I do agree!!
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