Sunday, October 07, 2012

A Good Book and a Cuppa

     What a difference a couple of days can make in Autumn. Friday night I was at an outdoor Oktoberfest, dining on delicious German food, and enjoying great conversation with new friends. It was pleasantly mild enough for us to have dined outdoors by the warmth of an open fire.
     On Saturday, as I spent much of the day indoors working on my book, it was one of mild weather and sporadic bursts of warm sunshine. However, it ended rather dramatically with high winds and a drastic drop in temperatures. This made for a perfect melancholy gray Sunday with sprinkles of rain and a high of 58. It really was an ideal day to cozy up with a hot cuppa and a good read.
      With that in mind, and given that this is the month of ghosts, ghouls, and things that go bump in the night; I thought it would be fun to share a Tea Society October Book list of some great eerie reads.

1. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
     This wonderful modern take on the Salem Witch trials is an absolute must read for October: "Salem, Massachusetts, 1681. Fear and suspicion lead a small town to unspeakable acts. Marblehead, Massachusetts, 1991. A young woman is about to discover that she is tied to Salem in ways she never imagined. "A sensational debut novel . . . carries on every page Howe's unique passion, wit, intelligence, and spirit."

2.  The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
         See my review here from a few years ago on this amazingly well written and atmospheric gem.

3. The Hound of The Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
     This is perhaps my favorite of all the Sherlock Holmes Mystries. Dr. John Watson plays a key role in this classic set against the backdrop of a a manor, murder, and the spectre of a mysterious phantom hound. What more could you ask for?

4. Dracula by Bram Stoker

     "A true masterwork of storytelling, Dracula has transcended generation, language, and culture to become one of the most popular novels ever written. It is a quintessential tale of suspense and horror, boasting one of the most terrifying characters ever born in literature: Count Dracula, a tragic, night-dwelling specter who feeds upon the blood of the living, and whose diabolical passions prey upon the innocent, the helpless, and the beautiful. But Dracula also stands as a bleak allegorical saga of an eternally cursed being whose nocturnal atrocities reflect the dark underside of the supremely moralistic age in which it was originally written -- and the corrupt desires that continue to plague the modern human condition. " ( This wonderful description was provided by Amazon)

5. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
     Gothic literature at its most sublime. The Barnes and Noble review below captures the essence of this timeless novel.
     "Last night I dreamt I Went To Manderley Again." So the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter remembered the chilling events that led her down the turning drive past the beaches, white and naked, to the isolated gray stone mansion on the windswept Cornish coast. With a husband she barely knew, the young bride arrived at this immense estate, only to be inexorably drawn into the life of the first Mrs. de Winter, the beautiful Rebecca, dead but never forgotten...her suite of rooms never touched, her clothes ready to be worn, her servant — the sinister Mrs. Danvers — still loyal. And as an eerie presentiment of evil tightened around her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter began her search for the real fate of Rebecca...for the secrets of Manderley."

6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
     This book, along with Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, is the reason for my lifelong fascination with Yorkshire. The novel begins with the tormented childhood of the orphaned Jane. It takes the reader through her early life of abuse and cruetly. As she grows up, Jane eventually takes the postion of governess to the ward of Mr. Edward Rochester, a "Byronic Hero" and master of a remote estate on the moors called Thornfield Manor. While at her new position, Jane uncovers her employer's dark history and a devastating secret in the attic. This novel has a permanant space on my home library shelf.

7. The Woman In Black by Susan Hill

     I did see the recent film with Daniel Radcliffe last year and I thought it was very well done and quite eerie. However, I am so glad that I read the book first. The book is frightening and there are of course some marked differences between it and the film. Hill's masterfully written ghost story is one of the few books that left me sleeping with the bedroom light on.

     "Arthur Kipps is a man touched by tragedy, as we learn, following his storming away in a temper from Victorian festivities, complete with ghost stories, on a snowy Christmas Eve. He is fully aware that stories of ghosts may be told in frivolous fashion, but that ghosts themselves -- real ghosts -- rarely manifest in such a mood. Ashamed of his bad behavior and wishing to explain himself and make it up to his wife, he begins to write the story of his own horrific experience following the death of Mrs. Drablow in the remote village of Crythin Gifford. A young attorney, he travels up North to represent his firm at her funeral and clear up outstanding legal affairs. The reader follows Kipps casually but is soon caught up in a fearful exploration of human despair and its consequence." "( Editorial Review- Amazon)

8. The Picture of Dorain Gray by Oscar Wilde
Vanity. Yes, all is vanity...
     "A lush, cautionary tale of a life of vileness and deception or a loving portrait of the aesthetic impulse run rampant? Why not both? After Basil Hallward paints a beautiful, young man's portrait, his subject's frivolous wish that the picture change and he remain the same comes true. Dorian Gray's picture grows aged and corrupt while he continues to appear fresh and innocent."( From Amazon)

9. The Fall Of The House Of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe

     DURING the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country ; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. I know not how it was - but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit.

Need I say more?
10. The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins
     “There, in the middle of the broad, bright high-road—there, as if it had that moment sprung out of the earth or dropped from the heaven—stood the figure of a solitary Woman, dressed from head to foot in white garments.”

      "Thus, young art tutor Walter Hartright first meets the mysterious woman in white in what soon became one of the most popular novels of the nineteenth century. Secrets, mistaken identities, surprise revelations, amnesia, locked rooms and locked asylums, and an unorthodox villain made this mystery thriller an instant success when it first appeared in 1860, and it has continued to enthrall readers ever since. From the hero’s foreboding before his arrival at Limmeridge House to the nefarious plot concerning the beautiful Laura, the breathtaking tension of Collins’s narrative created a new literary genre of suspense fiction, which profoundly shaped the course of English popular writing." ( from Amazon)


LadyCat said...

Great list! Jane Eyre is the classic eerie tale for me. I also saw the movie "Woman in Black" and was sufficiently spooked ; )
I'm very interested in reading "the Thirteenth Tale". Thanks for introducing it to me.

Rebecca said...

So glad you enjoyed the list, Lady Cat! Have you seen the recent Jane Eyre film with Michael Fassbender? It's wonderful! Let me know what you think of The Thirteenth Tale. It's one of the best books I've read in the last 10years.

Betsy Brock said...

Ah, you just need a full moon and candle light! :)

sparklegem said...

Great reading list. Rebecca is one of my favorites that I first read in high school. The fisrt two books on your list sound really fascinating and I can't wait to read them. Thanks for sharing these!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your suggested readings. I'm sure to choose one!
Have a nice Sunday tomorrow. :)