We Interrupt This 12 Days for a Gothic Suggestion

So my life is a little hectic lately and I’m complete failing at the 12 days thing although I am gangbusters on getting the MTT promo together and working the Popcorn Dialogues (tomorrow night: Ninotchka, which Lani hasn’t seen and I’ve forgotten so that should be interesting) so when Molly and Jill reminded me that we’d talked about a survey of gothic romance, of course I said, “Hell yes, I’d love to do that.” Yes, like the PopD blog, only on Cherry Forums and on books not movies and run as a bookclub. This wouldn’t be an academic study of the gothic, although we’d end up doing some of that, it’d be an analysis from a reader/writer point of view: what makes the gothic powerful, what do readers respond to in it, how has it evolved as readership has changed, etc. Also, some side discussions about the marriage of romance and horror with nods to Buffy, because, that’s why. One book a month for a year. We’re still in discussions with the book club mods about all of this so it’s just a lets-put-on-a-show-in-the-barn project for right now, but the mods are pros and I think this is going to work out just fine.

This was my first pass at the reading list and here’s some good news: The first seven are available for free on Project Gutenberg, so many thanks to the very good people there:

1. Intro to Course, Mysteries of Udolpho, Radcliffe (1794) (free ebook download)
2. Northanger Abbey, Austen (1818)
3. The Fall of the House of Usher, Poe (1839) [Link is to book of short stories that “Usher” appeared in.]
4. Jane Eyre, Bronte (1847)
5. The Yellow Wallpaper, Gilman (1892)
5. The Turn of the Screw, James (1898)
6. The Circular Staircase, Rinehart (1908)
7. Rebecca, DuMaurier (1938)
8. Sylvester, Heyer (1957)
9. Madam Will You Talk? Nine Coaches Waiting, Stewart (1958)
10. Someone in the House, Michaels (1981)

And then we need two more and everything is open for discussion.

Well, not everything. Northanger Abbey is staying in there. I’m more than willing to swap out Wuthering Heights for Jane Eyre because I love Wuthering Heights and I’m lukewarm on Jane, so we should discuss that. I’m probably going to get some argument on The Yellow Wallpaper, but I love that one, too, so let’s discuss. We’re keeping The Turn of the Screw and The Circular Staircase, but after that we’re into twentieth century romance (and out of Project Gutenberg) so we should discuss the last titles. I know Victoria Holt is not on there. I know Mistress of Mellyn is not on there. My opinions on Holt have been published elsewhere and they are not good. Bring it on. I would argue that DuMaurier’s Rebecca is the classic Gothic of the twentieth century and that Stewart and Michaels were the masters of the genre in the twentieth century, but I’m open to different titles from those three authors. Also, possibly Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962) which can still curdle my blood. And then we need something from the 21st century. I haven’t read Twilight, but I’m thinking that one probably has to go on. It’s a Gothic, right? Vampires do not necessarily equal Gothic, but I think the endangered-and-isolated-woman-in-the-wilderness bit is central to Meyer’s book, right? There are other books I’d like to do but they’re problematical. There’s Gaywyck(1980), the first gay gothic, but it’s expensive. And Pat Gaffney’s Lily, just because it’s Gaffney, but it’s out of print and rare, so it’s expensive. Any suggestions? she asked, remembering what happened when she asked the same question about romantic comedies (DON’T BREAK THE BLOG).

For the purposes of this project, a Gothic is a book that combines horror and romance, featuring an orphaned/isolated/innocent protagonist thrust into a dangerous and mysterious and possibly supernatural old house/wilderness with psycho-sexual overtones and at least one run through the darkness in a nightie. You know, like this:

Or if you want something more academic, go Norton.

Discuss.

136 thoughts on “We Interrupt This 12 Days for a Gothic Suggestion

  1. I LOVE Mary Stewart’s stuff.

    Can I recommend Nine Coaches Waiting in place of Madam Will You Talk?

    I think it gits the Gothic conventions better:
    1. There’s a huge mysterious house.
    2. We don’t know if the son of the manor is good or not until the end.
    3. There’s a late night dash through the woods (no nightie, though)
    4. The heroine is a GOVERNESS!

    I like “Madam”, but I think Nine Coaches is a stronger book on the whole.

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    1. (Delurking for a second because I’m excited I’ve read half these books already! And to put my vote in.)
      I love Nine Coaches Waiting! I thought it was a much stronger book than Madam and I liked the main character better. I think you should do it if you’re not doing Jane Eyre (I don’t know if the governess and other stuff makes it too similar). Actually, it doesn’t matter if you are doing Jane Eyre, because I love that book too.

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    2. My favorite Stewart books are Touch Not the Cat & This Rough Magic. I’ve read most of her other Gothic works but don’t really remember them as well.

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  2. I just read all 4 Twilight novels. (Peer Pressure)

    The first one meets the definition, but she was still learning her craft, so there are some challenges with reading that early book. By the final book, her pacing had improved and either she’d refined her technique or her editor finally laid down the law with her.

    It was interesting to witness Meyer’s evolution as a writer and storyteller as the series progressed.

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  3. since you’re no Holt fan can I get Master Of Blacktower by Barbara Michaels on the list? Creepy Scottish castle! Mysterious dude with silky black gloves that scare me! Mysteries, Secrets, Murder! I personally love me some Jane Eyre and think Wuthering Heights is too violent (he hangs PUPPIES to death on the back of the chair for cripe’s sake). Plus I get a feminist charge outta Jane Eyre.

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  4. Oooh or Tomorrow Is Mine by Rebecca James…bonus points for innocent girl forced into marriage of convenience with brutish mysterious dude to get her inheritance, ends up isolated in a manor with battlements and a tower, and a madman, and an orphan of unknown origin and evil evil servants. Aaahhbwahaha satisfied cackle.

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  5. Rebecca is my all time favorite gothic. That was the one I thought of immediately when I started reading this post. I vote it stays. Not that my vote counts for much since I don’t do it often. 🙂

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  6. I love Madam, Will You Talk? Great car chase. But I say yes to Nine Coaches Waiting, too. Mais oui, Raoul! I think The Ivy Tree would fit, as well.

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    1. I think it would be interesting reading Twilight and assessing it after a series of other gothic romances, and I think it fits the description above for the catagory. I can’t say I’m a big gothic reader, so I’m not recognizing most of these suggestions, and appreciate the quick definition. I was pushed to read the first one, and got totally sucked in, so that I read all four in about four days. I very much agree with what Jacie said above.

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  7. I second Verona’s suggestion for Nine Coaches Waiting. I adore Madam Will You Talk but it’s mostly driving like bats out of hell through the South of France (in an awesome way). Not so Gothic. I would say she didn’t really start into the supernatural until The Ivy Tree or Touch Not the Cat (incidentally, and perhaps not coincidentally, I feel Touch Not the Cat is the last readable Stewart. Possibly I am not the right person to participate in a Gothic book club). Or if the supernatural isn’t a requirement there’s The Gabriel Hounds, which is creepy as all hell but the heroine and the romance kind of irritate me.

    Why yes, I reread Mary Stewart a LOT, why do you ask?

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  8. Not quite sure why my comment above is nested, though I think it’s more to do with me on the iPhone than the blog itself!

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  9. Can I make some suggestions for the 18th and 19th century? I understand why you picked The Mysteries of Udolpho, as you’re set on Northanger Abbey, but have you read it? It’s a boring read, and long! (Udolpho, not Northanger Abbey). And this may be a spoiler, but everything that happens in Udolpho has a rational explanation, even more boring.
    And there is a good argument for starting with The Castle of Otranto by Walpole (1764), which is generally seen as the birth of the genre. Personally I have a soft spot for Lewis’ The Monk (1796). It is so wonderfully over the top.
    Then there are of course such seminal works as Frankenstein (1818) by Mary Shelley and Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker. Though I remember reading Frankenstein being rather a chore. Dracula is a bit racier. Jekyll and Hyde (1886) by Stevenson is nice and short, and creepy too. I also enjoyed Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), which is not overlong.
    I really enjoyed George du Maurier’s Trilby (1894). This is longish. The first part is set in Paris among English painters, and then Trilby becomes a famous singer under the aegis of Svengali. There is of course a good dose of double standards – Trilby is a painter’s model and NOT a virgin.
    I am assuming that the English language will be the limit this time, so I’m not suggesting any French or German authors.

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    1. If romance is a part of it, Frankenstein doesn’t qualify (unless we are to believe Mel Brook’s version).

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  10. Another vote here for Mary Stewart’s Nine Coaches Waiting. As soon as I read your list, Jenny, I got ready to say that, and then found about 5 people had already said it before me… (And like them, I also like Madam will you talk, but it is not so classically Gothic). Nine Coaches Waiting also has that rather rare character in fiction, a believable and likeable small boy. And Raoul is a Regency rake as well — even won his car gambling.
    It has everything, including a bit of paranormal, with the unwanted occasional telepathy between Linda and Léon.

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  11. I read the first three Twilight books. I was working at a Borders and it was easier to recommend similar titles if I knew what they were like. I couldn’t get into the 4th one. I can see why they’re addictive, but I really didn’t like them that much. The heroine’s redeeming qualities seemed to rapidly disappear as the series progressed, and there were times where I could definitely label her as TSTL. My dislike of them aside, I don’t know if they’d count as Gothic. I can’t put my finger on why, but my brain rebels at putting them in that category. Maybe it’s just my subconscious not wanting to read them again…I’ll have to think about that a bit more.

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  12. I don’t think Twilight should be on the list. Sorry don’t want to offend anyone, but I think the Movie hype made it out to be better than it is.

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    1. It was a huge bestseller before the movie, so I was thinking more along the lines of popular. I haven’t read it, so I can’t speak to how good it is.

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    2. I’d also be quite fine if it wasn’t on the list. I’m kind of liking being able to say “Twilight, hmm, haven’t read it.”

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  13. Nine Coaches Waiting is my vote for the most Gothic of the Mary Stewarts (followed by Ivy Tree and Madam in that order).
    If you won’t consider V. Holt, what about Anya Seton? I haven’t read all of hers (and it’s been a long time) but Dragonwyck, or Green Darkness leap to mind.
    Glad to see B. Michaels on the list — throw a dart and anything you hit will do for excellence and genre-fitting.
    A G. Heyer should be on the list for completeness, although she didn’t do a lot of true Gothic (but then, neither did Austen). Perhaps Sylvester: or, The Wicked Uncle as a Heyer send-up of the genre.
    The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole should at least be considered. It’s pretty hysterical (both meanings of the word). And it’s short.
    What about Villette instead of Jane Eyre? Everybody’s read or seen Jane Eyre already, so this would be something different, and can be informed by Jane Eyre.

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    1. Jane Eyre is one of the few books on this list I’ve already read, and I’m totally on board with a different title. I know it’ll get me smacked, but I hated it in high school and still am not a fan. I couldn’t identify with her at all, and I was seething that she went back to him after everything he pulled. I’m more ambivalent now, but Jane Eyre and Ethan Frome are two classics that I refuse to read again.

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  14. Jane Eyre gets my vote and I’d certainly agree with Twilight for 21st century. As to the rest, I defer to those more well read than myself.

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  15. Nine Coaches Waiting is a MUST! I love Mary Stewart.

    I would go Wuthering Heights over Jane Eyre.

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  16. LOVE Rebecca so I definitely think that one should stay but I have to agree with Sierra about Twilight…it really didn’t feel like the usual Gothic, didn’t seem as…dark? (not sure how to describe it) I also didn’t think it was very well written and Bella irritates me. That’s just my opinion

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  17. I love the Gothic and am so excited about this. I really mourn the fact there is so little gothic stuff today. I feel like romantic suspense really lost out when someone decided it had to be all serial killers and divorced cops and we couldn’t do scary houses, ghosts, and bats and heroines in nighties.
    I am pretty much happy with everything up there. Rebecca has to stay and I’m happy about anything Mary Stewart and/or Barbara Michaels related.
    I like Jane Eyre more than Wuthering Heights (wanted to slap both Cathy and Heathcliff), but everything else is so good I won’t quibble.

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  18. I’m new here, but I must pipe up to vote for Jane Eyre to stay on the list.

    Yes votes for keeping Mysteries of Udolpho (because of the connection with Northanger Abbey), The Yellow Wallpaper, and Rebecca. Yes for including We Have Always Lived in the Castle, too.

    Twilight isn’t appealing, but I don’t know of a good 21st-century title to substitute, so I’ll pipe down about it.

    I’m looking forward to reading the others, though.

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  19. Okay, okay, Nine Coaches Waiting. I like it better, too, I just thought since Madam was her first . . . oh, never mind.

    I loved Sylvester. I stuck it up there, but it may have to come down.

    I’m willing to swap out Otranto for Udolpho. It’s just that Udopho was the first (I think). Let me look at The Monk, Udolpho, and Otranto. Oh, and Castle Rackrent. One of those. There’s a limit to how much of that era I’ll read before we leapfrog to Austen who satirizes and honors the genre at the same time in Abbey. Love that book.
    A lot of the selections on the list are short, novellas really (Usher, Wallpaper) so that’ll be fun, too. I’m tempted to put Christabel on there except that (a) it’s a poem and (b) it’s Weird Gothic (and since Gothic is weird to begin with . . .). And Goblin Market. Okay, not a Girl Gets House Gothic but still wonderful. And weird.

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  20. Yes to Nine Coaches Waiting. You can buy Lily on Amazon for $.05 and probably at any ubs. I vote for Lily .

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  21. 21st century Gothics:

    * anything by Carol Goodman
    * anything by Natasha Mostert (although some of her protagonists are men)
    * Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale

    I love modern Gothics and eat them up with a spoon om nom nom!

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    1. okay I may get rotten tomatoes thrown at me but I hated The Thirteenth Tale. Am I the only one who was repusled by the S & M Incest? Septic shock from getting hair wound around your finger after yanking it out of your daughter’s head. Um, ew. And I think seriously that she is a talented writer. Her subject matter just icked me out and I know from Gothic. Guess I’m easily revolted.

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  22. I’ll go for “Sylvester” by Heyer. I’s my favorite Heyer.

    How about “Stil Lake” by Anne Stuart for the 21st Century.

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  23. PERFECT! I have to read Northanger Abbey for a travel seminar I’m taking in January of 2011, Jane Austen in Bath.

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  24. If you want a 21st century vampire gothic, why not go with Robin McKinley’s Sunshine instead of Twilight? I’m not really sure that either one truly counts as gothic – but gothic isn’t my thing so I may be wrong.

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    1. I don’t actually want a vampire book. I’m just looking for a popular Gothic from this century. Popular because one of the things we want to look at it is why Gothics appeal so much.

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      1. Sunshine is imo the best of the modern vampire stories, and a quite entertaining story in any genre. Of course it helps that she’s a baker, and I can make her cinnamon rolls. 🙂

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  25. How about The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn? I just read it a couple weeks ago and enjoyed it quite a bit.

    This may be an unpopular opinion, but I HATED Northanger Abbey. It started off OK, but it took me two tries to get through the middle. Catherine is the perfect example of TSTL. In fact, Henry and his sister were the only inteligent characters in the whole book. I’d say it was a farce (vocab word!), because everyone was definitely below us, and Catherine’s wild assumptions were definitely ridiculous. But it wasn’t action driven or fast paced AT ALL.

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    1. Yes! Deanna Raybourn is terrific. Silent In The Grave is, I think, her first and would be an excellent candidate for gothic romance.

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      1. Oh, but The Dead Travel Fast is a Stand Alone, and is far far more Gothic. I love the Silent books, but they’re more Mysteries and less Gothics.

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    2. Yeah, Northanger Abbey is widely considered to be Austen’s gentle spoof of the Gothic novels that were being written and read by her contemporaries. It doesn’t take itself seriously, but what it does do is reflect on gothic novels as a genre, their tropes and conventions, as well as to some extent demonstrating their context in society. So it might be a fun book to read in this context, given all of that.

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      1. It also makes a pretty good case for the Gothic being an accurate psychological representation of women’s place in her society.

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  26. could you ask pat gaffney/publisher to allow a download of the text or petition them to produce a kindle or nook version?

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    1. Sure, but don’t hold your breath. Pat’s going to have almost no say so over it and she left the publisher long ago. Still, can’t hurt to ask.

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  27. also, emma, you are right on about sunshine being a fantastic read. i’m not equipped to speak to it’s relevance to gothic lit, but it’s a damn fine story.

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    1. Mmm. It isn’t a traditional Gothic, if that’s what you mean. It’s got Gothic elements, but it’s really an Urban Fantasy.

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      1. I’ll put in a vote for Sunshine! And it was published in 2003. I thought it was older. I especially liked the world-building, with mankind being slowly overtaken by vampires and other supernatural creatures. Also, Mckinley’s vampires are wonderfully alien creatures.

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  28. If it wasn’t so difficult to find, I’d suggest Footsteps In The Dark, by Georgette Heyer. It has everything. A haunted old manor house, a crumbling chapel, a mad Monk, rappings and tappings and secret passages, and a romance between one of the owners, Celia, and a handsome policeman. On top of all this deliciousness, there’s the British aunt who, when she finds there’s a hidden staircase in her wardrobe that the “monks” use, says, “Do you mean there have been strange men mixed up in my clothes?”.

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    1. Oooh monks. Anyone for The Winding Stair by Jane Aikin Hodge? Am I the ONLY one with a rural library who had to spend high school reading Holt, Michaels, and Hodge???

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    2. Lora – I read Holt, Michaels & Stewart – does that count in a town of 14,942. Does that count? Although, I will admit that I WAY more like Mertz’s writing as Elizabeth Peters. I really prefer the fun & funny to the horror & creepy.

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  29. I just read Udolpho this winter, because I’d just reread Northanger Abbey and had to know what the fuss was about. Sidenote–I discovered while checking out this book that my librarian doesn’t know who Jane Austen is. I will pause now for your gasps of horror.

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    1. What the what?! Who doesn’t know Jane Austen?

      One more against Twilight. I actually enjoyed them despite the fact that they were poorly written. However, they’re not gothic — at least not by the definition above. The heroine is neither innocent nor isolated nor thrust into her situation. She knowingly chooses it. Repeatedly. So, I don’t think it counts.

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    2. Have to ask, was the person a person who works in the library or a librarian. Not necessarily the same. Also, having a degree in Library & Information Science, Jane Austen was not mentioned in any of my classes, not even Adult Popular Literature – the best class ever! It’s actually where I first found Jenny so maybe Jane was on the same list with Jenny. I got to read “Bet Me” for class. Did my book talk assignment on it too. Great book!

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  30. Have you considered Marlys Millhiser’s early stufff? Two of my absolute favorites, Michael’s Wife and Willing Hostage, may not qualify for supernatural aspect and are so far out of print they are probably unavailable. I loved those books. And Willing Hostage had a great cat in it. But Nella Waits is definately supernatural and The Mirror. I read the Mirror and enjoyed it but don’t recall reading Nella Waits Most of her spooky stuff I missed and the series she did is mystery.

    Some of Elsie Lee fits the category but almost none of her stuff is easily available. Although The Curse of Carranca fits the gothic definition although she wasn’t a governess or an orphan or an idiot. But it does involve a midnight escape.

    What about Phyllis Whitney? I barely remember what she wrote but she was immensely popular. She lived to be 104 and was publishing into her 90’s. Something to look forward to, Jenny!

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    1. Oh, dear god, if I make it to my nineties I’m going to be sitting on the terrace with a diet coke reading somebody else’s book. But thank you for the thought.

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    2. I’m being reminded of all the great books I need to re-read. Definitely yes to Nella Waits – it scared the pants off of me. Oh, and Goodyear, the cat in Willing Hostage? One of the best cats ever!

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  31. I seconding Green Darkness by Anya Seton. I also suggest The Middle Window by Elizabeth Goudge, though not sure how popular it was. I’d put these before Footsteps in the Dark by Heyer, I don’t like her detective novels much (I think the romance was between an owner starting with M (Molly? Maggie? Margaret?) and the policeman, I’m fairly sure Celia was married to Charles). If you do go with Heyer, I’d put Cousin Kate before that, or even The Talisman Ring. I’m truly horrified by Pam’s librarian, she is not worthy of the name. I came across some people who weren’t into reading much when I was at library school, but I don’t remember anyone who had not heard of Jane Austen.

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    1. You’re right. It was Margaret and Celia was the sister. There might be another problem – Margaret is no shrinking violet. Celia is the more timid of the two. I did love Charles, Celia’s husband. A very witty fellow! I adore all of Ms. Heyer’s mysteries, though, so I’m not probably not the best judge of whether Footsteps should make the list.

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    2. I’ve always loved Elizabeth Goudge, and consider myself lucky to own most of her books in seventies paperbacks, which are by now slightly the worse for wear. I think her books might be very difficult to get hold of now, though. She really deserves to be reprinted.

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  32. Sorry, that’s ‘I second Green Darkness’. Also, I’m curious to know why Nine Coaches Waiting has been crossed out, if people agree on it?

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    1. Because I am not good with the HTML. Madam was supposed to be crossed out but I coded it wrong and they both went. Fixed now.

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  33. Oh, oh, what about Christie? Are you allowing short stories? Because I found her collection The Hound of Death extremely creepy, probably more than anything I have read since. Are we leaving out Sheridan Le Fanu and Edgar Allen Poe, and what about The Hound of the Baskervilles?

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    1. Poe’s up there for “Usher.” I don’t think Baskervilles is Gothic. The Speckled Band is closer, but Sherlock is basically detective fiction, not Gothic. Ditto for Christie.

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  34. Did you mean to scratch off Nine Coaches Waiting along with Madam, Will You Talk?

    And just a vote against both We Have Always Lived in the Castle and Twilight — both good stories (for very different reasons) but seem not quite on-genre for true Gothic. Neither heroine seems vulnerable enough. And there’s a complete lack of eerie house presence in Twilight.

    Then again, that’s a discussion topic itself: can Gothic be truly Gothic in a feminist, non-house-founded setting? IYKWIM.

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  35. Nine Coaches is back; it was a coding glitch, not a rejection.
    I was thinking more about the sister as the Gothic heroine in Castle, but I think you’re right, it’s more straight horror. (And then there’s The Haunting of Hill House. Scariest damn book I ever read.)
    If Twilight isn’t Gothic, I’m more than willing to let it go.
    I took the Yellow Wallpaper off because seven of the books up there were before the twentieth century.
    And I do agree that Jane Eyre is more Gothic than Wuthering Heights.
    I’m not sure about having two books from the 50s, so Sylvester may go yet.

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  36. Suggesting: Dragonwyck by Anya Seton?

    Please keep Nine Coaches Waiting / Mary Stewart. Love Mary Stewart.

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  37. Amy wrote:
    “can Gothic be truly Gothic in a feminist, non-house-founded setting?”

    I think the house or at least isolation and a wilderness is an essential part of the story because of what it represents within that genre. They used to call them Girl-Gets-House books, and while that was a joke, it also really focused on the strongest symbolism in the genre.

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  38. Another vote here for Deanna Raybourn’s Silent in the Grave to replace Twilight for 21st Century. Haven’t read it as yet but her other books have a Gothic feel to them and the blurb sounds interesting

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  39. Not Stephanie Meyer. Ever. It’s just too Cinderella. If you really want to explore modern gothic (other than Buffy) take a look at Kim Harrison’s series on the Hollows. And yeah for Marlys Millhiser

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  40. I am going to toot my own horn here, which is lame but it is what it is. I recently had an article accepted in a peer-reviewed journal, Studies in Gothic Fiction. It’s about the agency of the female Gothic heroine. Anyway, the modern Gothics I used to underscore the continued agency of the heroine were the books by Elizabeth Lowell featuring the Donovans. A lot of the stuff labeled “romantic suspense” is really female Gothic. The first book is Amber Beach, followed by Jade Island, Pearl Cove and Midnight at Ruby Bayou. I think they are excellent examples of female Gothic fiction, in the tradition of Ann Radcliffe. But I am an anthropologist, so I am a babe-in-the-woods when it comes to lit critique.

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    1. Please tell me I can get my hands on this article without having access to the J-STOR? Because I don’t anymore. It’s been a blow.

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  41. The Yellow Wallpaper is awesome, but not romantic. I don’t think it fits here. But it is a great work!

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  42. Oh, I see Amy B already suggested Dragonwyck. Considering?
    Voting for Rebecca and Sylvester.
    Please no vampires, ever.

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    1. What about real Gothics where the heroine starts to think that somebody might be a vampire?

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  43. I vote for Deanna Raybourn’s “Dead Travels Fast”, plus, “Nine Coaches Waiting” and how about Barbara Michael’s “Wait for What Will Come”?

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    1. oh i LOVED Wait for What Will Come! But Master of Blacktower is still my fave Michaels title. I would like to see her represented here.

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    2. My primary request is that of the 20+ Michaels’ books that I have read, I hated Prince of Darkness. I was young enough that I still finished everything I started reading but it took like 6 months. So, please not that one. If I was to pick, I liked Sea King’s Daughter, but that may be because it was lighter and more like her Peter’s writing.

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    3. I still like Someone In The House for Michaels. It is the creepiest book that she ever wrote, under any name. It’s the creepiest haunted house I have ever read, and nobody does a haunted house like Barbara Michaels. Plus by the time we get to it we’ll all have read Maybe Next Time, yet another haunted house!

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  44. I just read recently a decent gothic that I think fits the genre better than Twilight. I think it was by Shannon Drake. I’ll go look it up……no not her. I will look for it tomorrow and get back to you??? It was a good book but my daughter didn’t like it as it had pictures at the beginning of each chapter and she preferred to create her own.

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  45. Where are these opinions on Holt that you speak of? 😀 What a good excuse for me to finally get around to rereading Rebecca and actually reading Northanger Abbey!

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  46. I really loved Elizabeth Lowell’s Donavan series. I never thought of it as gothic, but I can see the arguement.

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    1. It had isolation and an Uncle that was supposed to protect the heroine yet didn’t … pure Gothic :0)

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  47. Mary Stewart was my introduction to romance. I first read The Moon Spinners when I was in sixth grade, lo these many years ago… But I never thought of any of her books as gothic, rather than suspense. Though I think Thunder on the Right probably comes closest.That’s also my least favorite of her books — she’s so wonderful at the heroine’s first person POV, the switch to third person just grates in that book.

    Of course, if Jane Eyre stays on the list, Coaches makes a good comparison. Leon had a habit of referring to Linda as Eyre. By that token, Ivy Tree would work, too… younger woman in love with a married man whose mad wife doesn’t exactly live in the attic, but did manage to burn down the house.

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  48. I don’t think I’ve read much gothic but I vote a yes for “Nine Coaches Waiting.”

    I love “Sylvester” but I don’t remember anything menacing about it. Does that disqualify it if there’s no menace?

    For a modern gothic, maybe Sunshine by Robin McKinley? It does have vampires, but all of the trouble starts when a young woman goes out alone to her isolated family summer home and gets seriously menaced.

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  49. Please, please keep Georgette Heyer on the list. I’m voting for Sylvester – it’s a gothic send-up in the same sort of way that Northanger Abbey is (although much, much funnier – I still almost cry laughing over the tassel scene). I love Sylvester’s reaction when Phoebe offers to fix the damage she’s done by writing a sequel to The Wicked Uncle.

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  50. For 21st century gothic Cherie Priest’s Four and Twenty Blackbirds was truly creepy and the heroine is an orphan. I haven’t read any of the rest of her stuff because I am a wimp.

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    1. I just finished Four and Twenty Blackbirds – I loved it but there was no romantic angle there. My favorite Michaels is Witch. Old, old house isolated in the woods, weird townspeople, the whole ball of wax. Plus the romance comes at the end. I also love Devil May Care under her psuedoname Elizabeth Peters. And has anyone read The House On Tradd Street by Karen White? Read-with -the-lights-on, finish-in -one -sitting book. Awesome.

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  51. Count me in. I’d vote for Wuthering Heights over Jane Eyre, and I would love to read Heyer. And I have to admit, I would be interested in reading Twilight in this context – I haven’t read any of the series yet (although I did read The Host, by the same author, and it was wonderful).

    My votes for this century would be The Thirteenth Tale, The Forgotten Garden and The Rock Orchard. All are haunting, and all are wonderful.

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  52. Here’s my vote for the inclusion of Twilight as a possible 21st century gothic. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but from the working definition you’ve provided, it makes sense. One of my other thoughts about the book is that although the love story is a huge part of the story, I find it fits better as a “coming of age story”. A Gothic, coming of age story.

    Not sure about Green Darkness, as I remember that more as a medieval/reincarnation story, but I’m not particularly opposed to it either.
    There’s also the A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, but it might be considered to be more magical girl than gothic. It’s about a girl brought up in India, who is sent away to school in England and encounters mysterious powers at her school. It’s also about cliques.

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  53. Yes yes yes to Udolpho and Northanger Abbey (by far my favorite Austen, which is saying something), and a please no to Twilight suggestions. I read the first book and ended up skipping about 3/4 of the dialogue because it was so painful (and still understood the plot, which tells you something about how important the dialogue is). And here’s for Jane Eyre over Wuthering Heights; I just find it more interesting!

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  54. I’m in. I don’t care which Bronte we read, I read Eyre in jr. high or high school on my own, so I know I missed stuff out of that, and it’s been a quarter of a century since I’ve read WH in college, so either will be good for review. I’d like to read Rebecca — I only know “Rebecky” from Carol Burnett, so.
    I’m having a hard time fitting Dracula into a romance catagory, however. Yes, it’s got sex all underneath, but I don’t know.
    I assume you want stand-alones, not series, correct? I enjoy Harrison, but I think she’d be disqualified there. At least, the romance hasn’t finished an arc in her work. I’d argue Broken, by Kellly Armstrong, accomplishes this more successfully. But her heroine is not helpless, which is why I love the series.

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  55. It seems, from my totally unscientific scan, to be split between the Brontes. Why don’t we just read both?

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    1. We do all seem to love one and hate the other, don’t we? *grin* I personally love Jane and can’t stand Wuthering Heights, but I do admit that it’s probably more my problem than the book’s.

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    2. Not enough time. Two hundred plus years of Gothics. 12 books. Although I could be talked into 13 since it’s Gothics. After that, the book club mods want to do a survey of romantic comedy. Of course, by then I’ll be screaming, but hey.
      One Bronte. I think it has to be Jane.

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  56. Hmm. I don’t think Twilight is a gothic. She’s not an orphan. She’s living with her dad who is a cop. She isn’t menaced at all by the vampires or the werewolves. Okay, the evil vamps that come along, but really, no running in the dark of night in nighties. No haunted houses. There are a ton of vampires who are ON HER SIDE, so it’s not like the girl is all on her own. And she’s a whiny, spoiled brat. But yeah, I’ve read them all. (My mom held me down until I read the 4th one, which was everything I feared.) I mean, they are decent enough. Not great.

    Don’t like Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre. If you have to do a Bronte, I see someone mentioned Villette. While I don’t think it’s a gothic, it was the only Bronte novel I liked. (Go ahead. Throw large stones. I don’t care.)

    I remember Phyllis Whitney as being good. I haven’t read many gothics to know it. So I’ll read whatever you assign (except WH or JE). (Of course, I haven’t watched the movies yet, so we’ll see how well I follow thru with the books.) Mostly I’ve read science fiction and fantasy, really. And YA. This whole romance and women’s fiction is really still quite new for me. 🙂 It’s all Jenny’s fault: I read one of her books and was lost!

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    1. Everything you feared? You mean you were able to predict any of that? I’m not saying I didn’t like the books, I’m just saying that the fourth book was– a departure. Let’s just put it that way.

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  57. This read-along is perfect for me as I keep telling myself that I need to read some more Gothics. (Now I just need to pay attention to what is happening when.) I love, love, love that you’ve got Mary Stewart on there–Nine Coaches Waiting is great for this! And Rebecca too. I even have a 21st century suggestion: The Mistress of Trevelyan by Jennifer St. Giles.

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    1. One layer doesn’t seem to do anything. Famous last words.
      I’ll open up another post tomorrow so we don’t go too long on the comments.

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  58. Gosh. I’m thinking maybe I’m not a Gothic kinda girl. There are only 2 that were on the list that I’ve read and I wouldn’t read them again for anything. [Sierra – I’m with you about Jane Eyre.] Although, hell, it’s always good to read outside one’s comfort zone.

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  59. Another Heyer – The Reluctant Widow? Does that fit the criteria of a Gothic ? (What is the criteria, exactly? Apologies if it is up here and I missed it.)

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  60. Am I the only one with literally no opinion on Twilight? Have not read it, do not particularly intend to, but I have no objection to it as part of the list as I think I would appreciate it more if guided by gothic study and the smart women of arghink

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  61. Delurking to say that Deanna Raybourn’s “Dead Travels Fast” is really gothic-y, unlike her mysteries. This has the whole cannoli–a remote castle in Transylvania, a count who may be a cursed murderer but is irresistible, possible werewolves in the village, a single on-the-shelf woman. I liked it, and even more in retrospect when I realized how she has used every gothic trope so effectively.

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  62. I’m with the ‘Twilight is not gothic crowd’ (no horror, no isolation/orphanage, she goes willingingly instead of being thrust, there is no house or creepy/dangerous forest and the creepy and ‘psycho’ part of the sexual stuff is pretty much only seen by people who don’t like the books).
    But something else puzzles me more. How is Sylvester gothic? I love Heyer, need no excuse to read her again, but that one?
    Sorry, just wrote a long thing on why she wasn’t exactly isolated or alone and realized that spoilers are not a good thing, and besides, it’s easier to listen to an explanation when you aren’t trying to explain anything yourself. 🙂
    I’d second Robin McKinley’s Sunshine, except the romance part is left a bit ambiguous. When you say ‘combines horror and romance’ exactly what proportions of each are needed? There are definitely romantic overtones all over the place… Actually, take out the waffling, I vote for that one.

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    1. Forgot to add, not only does Sunshine’s trouble start at a creepy old ‘abandoned’ house, but she LIVES in a mysterious isolated house at the far edge of the city, owned by a mysterious older lady!

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      1. I still don’t think Sunshine is gothic enough. But I don’t think Armstrong or Harrison are Gothic enough, either. They’re all dark, for sure, but and they have elements of the gothic. But there’s something off. They’re Dark Fantasy and they’re Urban Fantasy, but I don’t think they’re Gothics. Maybe I’ll come back when I can figure out what I’m trying to say.

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    2. I suppose Sylvester is gothic the way Northanger Abbey is, with the heroine having written a gothic novel. But two books about Gothic novels seems a bit much in a list of a dozen books.

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  63. Love Jane Eyre, Rebecca, and all MRR–she is wonderful! So happy Circular Staircase is on there. Absolutely detest Fall/Usher.
    Twilight? Please, no. I teach lit to fourteen year old girls. I have had all the Edward and Bella I can take in one lifetime, and I already know why this series appeals to them.
    Phyllis Whitney…I used to share these with my grandmother! I would vote for anything written by her.

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  64. I’ve read 3 of the books on the list. I didn’t realize The Circular Staircase was Gothic. I thought it was a mystery.

    I love Stewart and have already mentioned that of her books, my favorite are Touch Not the Cat and This Rough Magic. I’m also supportive of the Ivy Tree which has been mentioned a few times.

    Barbara Michaels – I suppose any but The Prince of Darkness

    I also like Phyllis Whitney, but don’t have one to suggest.

    Holt is known for this genre. You’re blog, you’re rules.

    I like Wuthering Heights. Never read Jane Eyre.

    All that said, I’m wondering if I’m going to participate in the actual monthly reading. Poe freaks me out. And I’m not that fond of horror. Okay, I hate it. So, Gothic-lite would be more my style which is reflected in my preferences above. (Gothic-lite heroine it trouble but you never really doubt the happy ending, maybe labeled suspense?)

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  65. Also, I would like to register my sadness over losing The Yellow Wallpaper, although maybe it isn’t properly Gothic. I do love it, though.

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  66. I vote for Wuthering Heights instead of Jane Eyre. There is so much symbolism and so many ways to interpret this novel. (I also really loved “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall” by Anne Bronte–but that probably won’t be included here.)

    Villette was good, but I didn’t like it as well as the above two. Didn’t the heroine just want the man she thought she loved be a “closet” in her life, rather than the “whole house.” Argh!

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    1. I think Jane Eyre is pretty much a Gothic touchstone, so we’ll have to go with her.
      As for The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, ARGH. Although I love the part at the end where her rotten husband asks if he’s going to hell and she says, “Yes.” Very nice.

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  67. I found the Castle of Udolpho really long and rather boring. Has anyone mentioned Elsie Lee [Lees?] My daughter and I really liked her, her heroines were NOT TSTL and so they may not qualify. great covers on the books. Another good one by B. Michaels is Wings of the Falcon or Master of Blacktowers. Good luck on picking the best

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  68. For all of you who keep asking for Michaels, she’s been up there from the start: Someone in the House. My second pick was Ammie Come Home, but yes, definitely a Michaels. I love her Gothics. Then there’s Stitches in Time, too. The woman is just good.

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    1. Stitches in Time is one of the two about a shop dealing in antique costume, isn’t it? I think Shattered Silk was the first one. Loved them both. Please have either of those!

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