xaipe

Modern Gothic set in a gloomy countryside mansion in a remote part of Essex. The story takes place in the 1960's. The narrator, a Swedish woman named Kerstin Kvist whose first name is pronounced "Shashtin" (?), is a trained nurse who accepts a position caring for John who is most probably profoundly autistic in an era before this was a diagnosis. Other characters are the pathologically domineering matriarch, 2 middle aged love-starved sisters who vie for the local vicar's and local artist's attentions, and a third sister who has a mysterious background and whose paternity is questionable. Add a vast library which is constructed like a labyrinthine maze where John loves to hide and you have "The Woman in White" and "Jane Eyre" to complete the Victorian genre. Barbara Vine's sly observations of British mannerisms and customs make this a very stylish novel. In other less capable hands, it would have been a potboiler, but it was fun to read even though there were no ripped bodices.

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