Recuperating from a wonderful day of feasting, giving thanks and walking in the woods with my family. So much to be thankful for, and the good food just drives it all home. I didn’t write a single word last week. Instead I took a wonderful vacation and attacked my TBR pile, which was chock full of mysteries, historical fiction, and a healthy dose of Gothic suspense.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I was weaned on “Dark Shadows,” the gothic soap opera from the early 1960s. Although I was just wee slip of a girl when I first started watching “Dark Shadows,” I’ve always had a soft spot for stories with ancient houses, ghosts, mistaken identities and strong women who face their fears. Simone St. James is a must read for anyone who is drawn to this type of story.
I had the pleasure of winning an ARC of “Silence for the Dead,” Simon St. James’ latest book, scheduled for release in February 2014. This is Ms. St. James’ third novel, and it did not disappoint. Ms. St. James’ books are set in England in the 1920s, a time of great change for modern women. The suffrage movement was in full force, and women were actually getting jobs (other than that of a prostitute or a teacher/governess) and taking their place in society. An unmarried woman with no job, no education and no prospects was not an unusual occurrence during this time period. There was a remarkable shortage of men following WWI and the great influenza epidemic, and consequently many women were faced with the prospect of facing life alone and earning their own living. While the 20s roared for many, it was a time of hunger and strife for others.
“Silence for the Dead” tells the story of the intrepid Kitty Weekes, who lies her way into a nursing job at an isolated manor house, now converted into an asylum. But tragic souls, both living and dead, give Kitty a run for her money. This story drips with gothic nuance; the house is frightening, and St. James – as she does in all her books – invokes the past with the hand of an expert. She crafts her characters with depth and care, and although they do have flaws, one can’t help rooting for them.
I read this book in one day, I loved it so much, and while I give a resounding thumbs-up to this story (and recommend reading all St. James’ previous works) I say a silent prayer to all the women of this time who lived through stories similar to Miss Weekes, and applaud their courage.
On an unrelated topic: I also have to mention the time I spent riding my horse, Dusty, on Saturday. We galloped through the woods, in the cold, clear sunshine. Thanks, Dusty. You make the world a better place.
Happy Monday, all and, most of all, happy writing!!