The scan of this unusual and gorgeous cover was obtained via an online bookseller.
I'm halfway through the novel and don't think I'm premature in writing a summary nor giving it 3 Stars [out of 5]. It's well written, moody, suspenseful...but has some major logical loopholes, imo.
The author lets the cat out of the bag too fast. We very quickly see the negative and hostile attitudes and interactions of the folks at Sutter's mansion. The chief maid is nearly physically assaultive to another seeming member of the staff. Our heroine is warned by the maid's husband to be careful and points to a bruise on his chin. Um...I don't know many men who'd admit to a veritable FEMALE stranger that he's an abused husband, and seeing how our heroine IS niece of Mr. Sutter -- the chief maid's boss [read: bread and butter] -- methinks the maid [who I visualized as that big clunky ugly chick "Maude" in the Andy Griffith Show episode of 3 escaped female convicts who take Barney and Floyd hostage in the cabin] wouldn't dare even consider lifting a finger against her. We quickly see who the heroine will fall for. Mr. Sutter's strange attitudes [I know it's to be expected, but his quirks and foibles are quickly laid bare to our eyes]. The fact that heroine's dead dad's letter is hidden away from her [she had time to open the letter, read it and carefully reseal it prior to handing it over to her weird uncle] in uncle Sutter's Bible. She sees him place it there, and it's secured with a key. Now she uneasily decides -- despite all the hostile drama and creepiness of the place -- to hang around just long enough to get that little golden key from uncle Sutter's belt and snatch the letter out of the Bible. Wow...why not just TAKE the entire Bible [it's a standard family edition], flee to the Florida mainland, cut its locked straps, take out the letter and mail the Bible back to uncle Sutter?
Another turnoff is the way a Native American [Seminole] female character is written. As in "The Shadow on Spanish Swamp" [reviewed a while back/different author], the authoress seems compelled to include a "minority" character...and then botches it. Said characters are written as VERY noble and VERY beautiful and VERY wonderful. This uneasy "walking on egg shells" quality. I know white authors, especially at the time, had to be careful not to come off as racist or whatever; but if one is THAT uneasy about writing a "minority" character, why bother in the first place? The "minority" character comes off as stilted and unbelievable; the aim [to genuinely and positively include folks of other races/ethnicities] is indirectly worked against. If I were Native American I'd probably be snickering while reading this novel.
I dunno. Anywho, I continue studying non-fiction/serious "stuff". Will finish this novel and amend the review if necessary; though I doubt it'll be necessary.
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