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A Man From the Mist by Mary Elgin
#1
Sad 
Though this is "A Bantam Gothic Novel" it doesn't qualify as a gothic at all. The back blurb is cheating again; there's no "secret horror", no "half-crazed major tortured by love and despair", no "Scottish moors, shrouded in mist, pregnant with danger and menace". Umm, forgive me, there was mist! And our hero even turned up in that mist, so the title is no lie. Yay! Originally the book was published (in 1963) under the title "Visibility Nil" and I can see why they changed that.

The book started out well: a 21 year old girl, Catherine, becomes a widow when her husband is shot during military service in Cyprus. It's the 1950s. For her it's a relief as she admits she hated her husband. I immediately hoped for the scenario that she might have shot him herself, which would be revealed only near the end of the book. Nope. Next she tells us about how this marriage came about and how her mother had treated her during her youth. Wow, perhaps another victim for our vindictive heroine? Nope, again.
Catherine has no money and no proper work training, so she is glad to find a job as housekeeper in a remote Scottish place, working for an elderly major who is temporarily physically handicapped. There's a little map in the book which helps the reader visualize the setting. There are a few interesting houses but none get very important for the story. The heroine never encounters menacing situations or people, though she is scared one time being lost in the mist. So what's it all about? I think it is a book about the growth of a young woman who has been disappointed over and over again in life and finally realizes she can be happy with her future. The only "mystery" in the book is the death of the major's beloved daughter. She apparently killed herself over our hero. This could have been turned into a frightening situation, like perhaps the daughter had gotten pregnant by her doting parent and he had killed her himself. Then when the heroine refused the advances of the major in favor of the hero, he could have grabbed a pistol and threaten her life as well, in the meantime confessing to the deed. Nope, once more with feeling!

Overall, the writing was quite good. The author used some blatant coincidences, a major (pun intended) pet peeve of mine. The heroine was sympathetic and sensible despite the circumstances of her youth. The Bantam book was very badly glued and it is ripe for the waste paper bin by now. But applause for the author who described an event that could be used for the cover: girl fleeing a house.

My verdict: a 2 out of 10, mainly because it doesn't live up to being the proclaimed "gothic". If I had expected it to be a regular romance novel, it could have gotten an 8, because I liked how the heroine didn't jump at the chance to marry the hero as soon as he proposed, but she realized that many things could go wrong and she was quite happy with her current freedom.
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