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The Landower Legacy by Victoria Holt
Starting one of Victoria Holt's books is like sinking in a warm bath. After reading many of her stories, her world has become so familiar that it feels like visiting places you have been to yourself. The people vary, of course, but she uses the same types again and again, so even they seem familiar. And the heroine is someone you want to have as your friend. No wait, she IS your friend already, and takes you into her confidence by telling you what happened to her in great detail. She's telling you her feelings and the decisions she made and how ultimately she married the man she loves.

Caroline Tressidor begins her story when she is 14 and her life changes when she is sent to stay for a visit with her cousin Mary at Tressidor Manor in Cornwall. The neighboring house is Landower Hall, a magnificent castle but badly in need of restoration. She befriends Paul and Jago Landower, and secretly fancies herself in love with Paul. Paul is struggling to find means to keep Landower Hall in the family, but will probably have to sell the place. Life takes Caroline away from Cornwall again for a few years and when she returns a lot has changed.

The themes of this story are people marrying for money instead of love and also the way women give up their independence after they marry. The book starts with the 50 year anniversary of the reign of Queen Victoria and ends with the 60 year jubilee. Queen Victoria is used to show how a woman is capable of handling her own affairs, while most of her contemporary women weren't considered able to do that.

Caroline's governess tells her mother that Caroline writes quite well. "I mean her construction of sentences and her use of words. She shows imagination and a certain facility in expressing herself." I think this is exactly what I would have said of Victoria Holt's writing style if I could write as well as she does. I've never come across another author as talented as she.

The gothic atmosphere is lacking in this story, but it's a vintage Victoria Holt nevertheless. A lot of things happen in Caroline's life and though they aren't always related, they steer her in one and the same the direction where we will leave her to enjoy her happily ever after. There never was a dull moment and never an illogical turn of events. It was a wonderful and exciting read, which will deserve a 9 out of 10.

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