Saturday, December 27, 2008

Carnaby Curse by Daoma Winston [1967]

Found this Belmont Double Gothic last May, locally. Found the cover scan via:

That's a favorite cover art of mine. It captures the story perfectly.

I give the story 5 stars out of 5. :-) Carnaby Curse is beautifully written. It's definitely crafted in a more feminine style, with certain traditionally feminine elements to it; however, it's NOT weak -- neither is Megan Benson. Forgive me if it seems sexist, but I'm rather certain ladies 40+ (I'm 43) might instantly take to the story's overall aura.

Megan Benson is definitely a likeable character, imo. She's 24 and just returned to Carnaby House in "the cold hills of Connecticut" with her younger sister, Kristine, and cousins Terrence and Celia. Megan grew up in Carnaby House with Kristine and their cousins; it was not a happy childhood. The return to Carnaby House is not a happy one either; Megan should now be married to Rory and honeymooning on a sunny beach in Bermuda...but alas, Fate decreed it otherwise.

Megan begins to brood over what she's certain is a curse on her. As a younger woman she'd believed Carnaby House was cursed; but no, Megan's seeming ill-fated star had followed her far beyond the bounds and reaches of Carnaby House; the curse resided within her...didn't it?

The family and friend dynamic of this wonderful Gothic novella is different than most. That boosted its appeal for me.

As Megan continues grappling with depression and despondency against the haunting backdrop of the misty/foggy Connecticut hills, someone attempts to kill her...or it seems that way. Megan learns an unhappy and unsavory truth regarding her mother's youthful death. Is Megan tainted by her mother's tragic fate?

Or IS someone trying to kill her? If so, why?

Liam arrives on the scene. He's instantly attracted to Megan, who instantly rejects any overtures. Megan soon acquires another would-be suitor, and twice rejects that man's marriage proposals. Into this heady mix comes Celia's mature and confident flirting with Liam, and young Kristine's jealous awkwardness.

It's a well-balanced, nicely paced Gothic with just the right amount of haunting qualities. The ending unfolds smoothly and is satisfyingly surprising.

The cast of characters as I *loosely* visualized them:

Megan Benson: Bridget Fonda [age 24]
Kristine Benson: Sharon Tate [age 17]
Terrence Parr: Tall, handsome, blonde as described [age 26].
Celia Parr: Sharon Stone [age 25]
Liam: Tall, dark, handsome as described [age 30]
Budgie: Reta Shaw [age 62]
Clyde: As described [age 65]

Trixie gives it 1 Paw: No mention of nor reference to a cat. ;-p

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