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Bells of Widow's Bay, by Miriam Lynch [1971]
Big Grin 

This is a powerfully entertaining read. This IS Gothic, baby. [photo found via Miriam Lynch's entry in "Fantastic Fiction" website, which is a UK site]

Lisa Meredith is invited by her new love interest, Anton "Tony" Belvoir for a weekend at the family estate: Ledge House, which is situated on a tiny island somewhere off the New England coast. Tony exudes confidence and charm. They've dated a while: Cozy expensive little restaurants, an evening at the theater. She's a bit hesitant, particularly as Lisa believes it should be Tony's grandmother, the lady of the estate, who should extend the invitation. Despite her reservations, Lisa accepts Tony's offer.

En route to Ledge House, Tony's demeanor changes. He becomes withdrawn, silent, brooding.

They cross to the island from Banbury Landing. Neither the boatwoman nor Arla, the maid at Ledge House who is returning from her mother's funeral, are friendly. Tony coldly ignores both women and vice versa. Indeed, there is scant friendliness to be found anywhere on the island and Lisa immediately regrets coming along.

And then everything goes very badly.

The tolling of bells portends death...Lisa is subjected to physical attacks by an unknown female assailant...the boatwoman who runs her craft between Banbury Landing and the small island mysteriously vanishes...Tony's family is not welcoming nor very accommodating.

Lisa is soon plagued with terrible nightmares. She awakens in another room, in another time; the lamp by her bed is replaced with a candle. A different face returns her groggy gaze in the mirror. "Her" body is compelled to acts of near violence.

Is she being possessed by the spirit of a dead young servant? Or is her stressed and frightened mind playing tricks on her?

Fortunately Ledge House is modernized and contains telephones, which remain in working order. Lisa contacts Dave Shannon, the good-hearted humanitarian/pro-civil rights and activist lawyer she works for. Please come help her! Dave has been soft on Lisa for a long time, but she's ignored his attempts at romance.

Charges of witchcraft, the unexplained deaths of men, the lack of men -- or children -- on the island, ominously tolling bells, love lost and love regained: This is the essence of Bells of Widow's Bay.

I didn't foresee just who THE culprit was. It's a tightly written, *terrifically* written novel which I will read again at some point [I rarely if ever re-read fiction]. Also, I'm personally not a big romantic, but did enjoy the elements of tender and genuine romance in the novel.

On a scale of 1 to 5, this book gets 5 stars.

Cast of characters as I visualized them:

Lisa Meredith: Kim Novack [age 23]
Anton "Tony" Belvoir: Jerry Lacy [age 27]
Dave Shannon: Dick York [age 25]
Arla: I visualized her as described in the book.
The Belvoir "Sisters": Who cares what those ugla mugla losers actually look like?

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