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Great Gothics, Just Not Gothic Romances
#1
I'm starting this thread because I think there are a lot of good Gothic novels out there, even modern ones, that don't fit into the category of either Horror Gothic or Gothic Romance. Rather than get hung up on definitions, it makes sense to just start a recommended list on the General Off-Topic Forum.

The criteria for this list is simply that it's a Gothic novel (however you define it) and you want to recommend it, but it doesn't fit in either the Horror Gothic or Gothic Romance categories.

I'll start with a great book I just finished called The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I really, really enjoyed it. It is a book written for fans of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights The Turn of the Screw, Wilkie Collins'' books, and any other recognizable Gothic or ghost story. It kept me entertained, it puzzled me, it tricked me, and it moved me. The author is clearly a voracious reader and lover of the whole art of reading. AND IT'S A GREAT MYSTERY!

From Booklist...

Margaret Lea, a bookish loner, is summoned to the home of Vida Winter, England's most popular novelist, and commanded to write her biography. Miss Winter has been falsifying her life story and her identity for more than 60 years. Facing imminent death and feeling an unexplainable connection to Margaret, Miss Winter begins to spin a haunting, suspenseful tale of an old English estate, a devastating fire, twin girls, a governess, and a ghost. As Margaret carefully records Vida's tale, she ponders her own family secrets. Her research takes her to the English moors to view a mansion's ruins and discover an unexpected ending to Vida's story. Readers will be mesmerized by this -story-within-a-story tinged with the eeriness of Rebecca and the willfulness of Jane Eyre.
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#2
Another great book is The Dress Lodger by Sheri Holman. It may not seem Gothic from the description, but it is dark, brooding and disturbing. It has a wonderful female character too.

From the inside flap...

In Sunderland, England, a city quarantined by the cholera epidemic of 1831, a defiant, fifteen-teen-year old beauty in an elegant blue dress makes her way between shadow and lamp light. A potter's assistant by day and dress lodger by night, Gustine sells herself for necessity in a rented gown, scrimping to feed and protect her only love: her fragile baby boy. She holds a glimmer of hope after meeting Dr. Henry Chiver, a prisoner of his own dark past. But in a world where suspicion of medicine runs rampant like a fever, these two lost souls will become irrevocably linked, as each crosses lines between rich and destitute, decorum and abandon, damnation and salvation. By turns tender and horrifying, The Dress Lodger is a captivating historical thriller charged with a distinctly modern voice. .
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#3
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood is one of my five all-time favorites. Half the book takes place in an asylum/prison and the other half involves reconstructing the past with a very unreliable narrator. It reminds me a great deal of "The Turn of the Screw" where you're trying to determine what's real and what's not.

From the book description in Amazon....

Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and Nancy Montgomery, his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders.

Dr. Simon Jordan, an up-and-coming expert in the burgeoning field of mental illness, is engaged by a group of reformers and spiritualists who seek a pardon for Grace. He listens to her story while bringing her closer and closer to the day she cannot remember. What will he find in attempting to unlock her memories? Is Grace a female fiend? A bloodthirsty femme fatale? Or is she the victim of circumstances?
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#4
I really enjoyed the Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque by Jeffrey Ford. It reminded me quite a bit of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, with a setting of old turn-of-the-century New York City as vivid as in Caleb Carr's The Alienist. Being unartistic to the extreme, I learned a lot about the artist's viewpoint and craft. I really enjoyed the mystery, which was highly original. You never know what to believe. The ending wasn't the best in the world, BUT the journey was worth it.

From School Library Journal....

In New York City at the turn of the 20th century, Piambo is a young artist earning his bread painting "corrective" portraits of plain society wives, beautifying them for the canvas and their husbands. He has a crisis of conscience when one woman, standing under her portrait, leans close and whispers, "I hope you die." As he restlessly wanders the streets that night, a blind man approaches, claiming to know him by his dishonest smell, and offers him the commission of a lifetime: paint a portrait of his employer and receive compensation so grand that he will never have to paint another wife. The catch? Piambo will not be permitted to see Mrs. Charbuque. She will sit behind a screen, and he may ask her questions; from the answers he is to divine her essence. If he captures her likeness, compensation will triple.
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#5
Desdemona Wrote:I'm starting this thread because I think there are a lot of good Gothic novels out there, even modern ones, that don't fit into the category of either Horror Gothic or Gothic Romance. Rather than get hung up on definitions, it makes sense to just start a recommended list on the General Off-Topic Forum.

The criteria for this list is simply that it's a Gothic novel (however you define it) and you want to recommend it, but it doesn't fit in either the Horror Gothic or Gothic Romance categories.

I'll start with a great book I just finished called The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I really, really enjoyed it. It is a book written for fans of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights The Turn of the Screw, Wilkie Collins'' books, and any other recognizable Gothic or ghost story. It kept me entertained, it puzzled me, it tricked me, and it moved me. The author is clearly a voracious reader and lover of the whole art of reading. AND IT'S A GREAT MYSTERY!

From Booklist...

Margaret Lea, a bookish loner, is summoned to the home of Vida Winter, England's most popular novelist, and commanded to write her biography. Miss Winter has been falsifying her life story and her identity for more than 60 years. Facing imminent death and feeling an unexplainable connection to Margaret, Miss Winter begins to spin a haunting, suspenseful tale of an old English estate, a devastating fire, twin girls, a governess, and a ghost. As Margaret carefully records Vida's tale, she ponders her own family secrets. Her research takes her to the English moors to view a mansion's ruins and discover an unexpected ending to Vida's story. Readers will be mesmerized by this -story-within-a-story tinged with the eeriness of Rebecca and the willfulness of Jane Eyre.

I bought a copy of The Thirteenth Tale about a year ago. Unfortunately, I buy far more books than I am capable of reading. I have a "To Be Read" shelf which only has about twenty-five titles at the moment. I generally get in a mood to read gloomy gothics in the late fall so I will aim to try to read it by years' end.
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#6
Monique Devereaux Wrote:
Desdemona Wrote:

I bought a copy of The Thirteenth Tale about a year ago. Unfortunately, I buy far more books than I am capable of reading. I have a "To Be Read" shelf which only has about twenty-five titles at the moment. I generally get in a mood to read gloomy gothics in the late fall so I will aim to try to read it by years' end.

Great! Let me know what you think!
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#7
Desdemona Wrote:I'll start with a great book I just finished called The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I really, really enjoyed it. It is a book written for fans of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights The Turn of the Screw, Wilkie Collins'' books, and any other recognizable Gothic or ghost story. It kept me entertained, it puzzled me, it tricked me, and it moved me. The author is clearly a voracious reader and lover of the whole art of reading. AND IT'S A GREAT MYSTERY!

I read this earlier this summer. I enjoyed it up until the end, which I think let the whole book down on its implausibility. But as you say, Setterfield is clearly a voracious reader, and also an aficionado of the genre. I enjoyed the many references she had to classic books in the genre.
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#8
I forgot to add a recommendation of my own: Carol Goodman's "The Lake of Dead Languages". It's not set in an old castle or a stately home, but at an old American boarding school for girls, by the lake.

From Goodman's website:

Quote:Twenty years ago, Jane Hudson fled the Heart Lake School for Girls in the Adirondacks after a terrible tragedy. The week before her graduation, in that sheltered wonderland, three lives were taken, all victims of suicide. Only Jane was left to carry the burden of a mystery that has stayed hidden in the depths of Heart Lake for more than two decades. Now Jane has returned to the school as a Latin teacher, recently separated and hoping to make a fresh start with her young daughter. But ominous messages from the past dredge up forgotten memories. And young, troubled girls are beginning to die again--as piece by piece the shattering truth slowly floats to the surface...
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