Reading Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier in 7th grade was a formative moment for me: I learned the vocabulary word sepulchre; I was deliciously creeped out. It wasn’t until this year, though, that I realized Rebecca was part of a larger type of fiction that I really, consistently enjoy: Gothic fiction. The good news for readers like me – those who love creepy old mansions, sinister family secrets and the sense that something is not quite right – is that there are a steady crop of titles to keep us busy. This year I’ve read two titles that I’d like to suggest you snuggle up with on a cold and dreary night. Continue reading “A Foray into Gothic Fiction”
It was my idea, after all. Lately as we’ve seen readers and filmgoers gobbling up great twisty psychological suspense such as Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, I kept thinking they should make a fresh version Daphne Du Maurier’s classic tale of the devious anti-heroine known as My Cousin Rachel. Sixty-five years after its original publication, the book stands up extremely well, and makes a terrific suggestion for fans of gothic film and fiction including such modern descendants as Kate Morton, Sarah Waters, Lauren Forrey, Eleanor Wasserberg, Catronia Ward, John Harwood. I mean, it pretty much has it all – lush historical trappings, an irresistible villainess, passion, poison – and it is desperately overdue for a fresh version. Check out the trailer for this 1952 potboiler starring Olivia deHavilland and “bright new star” Richard Burton (“Was she woman, or witch!? Madonna or murderess!? … She gives men the promise of ecstasy, and a life of torment!”)
Hugely fun on a rainy Saturday afternoon, but we’re definitely ready for something a bit more contemporary. I can’t wait to see the new film with Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin, which looks gorgeous and treacherous, as it should:
Popular in the 1970s, gothic romance was defined by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca: dark and stormy night, castle or manor house with frightened fleeing maiden in a nightgown on the book cover. Other popular authors in this genre included Anya Seton, Phyllis Whitney, Dorothy Eden and Victoria Holt. For the past two decades, fewer gothics have been written —until now. The new gothics are similar to the old ones — with less romance and more horror.
The River Wife by Jonis Agee
In 1930, when she arrives in the remote Missouri boot heel, the newest DuCharme wife, young Hedi, discovers a legacy of piracy, illicit love, murder and deceit and faces her own trials when it seems her new husband is carrying on the family tradition. Continue reading “The New Gothics: less romance, more horror”