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Gothic/Gothic Romanic Suspense/Romantic Suspense
#7
The difference between Gothic Romance and Gothic suspense is not something I've really considered before but I can see that there is one, now you mention it!
However the overlap is present in most stories and to some extent depends upon the relative weight of each element. Does the romance aspect outweigh the suspense or vice versa?
Personally it's the suspense quality that I really look for - invariably centred on a 'damsel in distress' protagonist who is nevertheless very resourceful and determined to survive, however 'feminine' or given to screaming they might entertainingly be!
The 'classic era' dust jackets do indeed sum up the essential elements- vulnerable female, often just in flimsy nightgown to reinforce the vulnerability, and remote, forbidding and/or eerie house/mansion/castle , often with lots of towers, turrets, attic rooms and lights streaming out of single aperture into the moonlight which only intensifies the sense of the heroine's isolation rather than welcomes her.
Frankly the romance bits are more optional - but as one of the few (?!!) guys who read these novels, I would say that anyway. Mind you the romantic figure can have the effect of adding another layer of suspicion to the mystery element : is the 'hero' really to be trusted or will he turn out to be a wrong 'un in the end?!
That is why the novels to my mind benefit from the 60s/70s essential chasteness - the remote nature of the supposed hero means the question mark hangs over him longer - we simply don't get intimate enough with him to decide if he's on the side of angels or darkness!
Some novels have a lot of these elements in their narrative but somehow don't quite qualify as romantic-gothic suspense. I was recently reading a remoteScottish Highland set novel , The Snow on the Ben by one Ian Stuart. Its setting was perfect , there was a distinct romantic 'tug' between the policeman-on-holiday and the young woman fleeing a broken engagement but though on Mary Stewart's territory [ Wildfire at Midnight ] it never quite strays convincingly into the romantic/gothic mode and remains a straightforward crime-adventure. Not surprisingly Ian Stuart turns out to be Alistair MacLean in disguise!
A good read but indefinably not 'our' genre! Similarly, I think, are Antonia Fraser's novels such as 'Quiet as a Nun' .
others of course may see this all quite differently!
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RE: Gothic/Gothic Romanic Suspense/Romantic Suspense - by Ewan Wilson - 08-18-2014, 09:55 AM

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