Gothic revival: In the Shadow of Lakecrest

Last night I dreamed Lakecrest was on fire. Elizabeth Blackwell’s In the Shadow of Lakecrest begins with this bit of homage to Daphne du Maurier and Rebecca, but Blackwell puts her own spin on the Gothic novel, and quite a ride it is.

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in-the-shadow-of-lakecrestKate Moore, Blackwell’s narrator, is a bit of a gold digger. She has survived a rough childhood with one ambition: find a wealthy man, marry him, and escape the past. Her past is indeed full of secrets, right down to her true name.

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When she meets Matthew Lemont on an Atlantic crossing in the summer of 1928, she is traveling as a governess, only allowed in the first class areas of the ship in the company of her temporary charges. A flirtation follows, and suddenly Kate is catching a ride to Chicago in Matthew’s family train car.

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Kate is an honest gold digger. She doesn’t love Matthew—in fact she has a few misgivings about him from the very beginning—but she likes him well enough, and when he asks her to marry him she accepts his proposal with every intention of holding up her end of the bargain.

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That seems easy enough living in his apartment in Chicago, but his family’s bizarre, decaying mansion on the shore of Lake Michigan—comprised of more architectural styles than Kate can count, and guarded by gargoyles—and his controlling mother are enough to make her wonder if she can abide by her decision.

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Lakecrest is full of family secrets, and Kate has no idea who she can trust. But then Kate has secrets of her own to protect.

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I have a confession to make here. Although back in the day I gobbled up the Gothic tales of Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt, the had-I-but-known mysteries of Mary Roberts Rinehart, and the suspense stories of Phyllis A. Whitney, I have never read Rebecca. I’ve never even seen the movie. All I know is that famous first line, Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. So on the way to the grocery store, I stopped at Half Price Books and picked up a copy to add to my vast waiting collection of Books To be Read.

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If you enjoy Gothic novels, old or new, pick up In the Shadow of Lakecrest.