Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Unseen Bridegroom or, Wedded For A Week  -  1881
May Agnes Fleming
246 pages
genre  -  Adventure, Gothic (maybe)
my rating  -  4 out of 5 stars

I checked Wikipedia.  A gothic novel needs elements of both horror and romance. The first paragraph of the book certainly sets the stage for horror. Here are a few words: wild, murky, inky gloom, desolate, blood-chilling. Of course it's describing New York City in November.  (grin)

The story starts with a middle-aged man, Carl Walraven. He has just returned home to his widowed mother after sowing his oats for two decades. A woman comes to their house on 5th Avenue and informs Mr. Walraven that he has a daughter. Mollie is a 17-year-old lively, pretty, talented actress currently employed with a traveling show. Now we have the token maiden needed for the gothic novel. There are numerous villains, a mysterious hero, disguises, poison, midnight rides in a carriage, and a clergyman.

But we get to watch Mollie grow from a self-centered teenager to a loving, caring young woman. As far as I know, character growth isn't a component of a gothic novel. I still don't know how to classify this book, but I enjoyed reading it.

 About the author  -
May Agnes Fleming was born November 15, 1840 in New Brunswick, Canada.  She married John W. Fleming in 1865 and they moved to New York two years after her first novel, Erminie; or The Gypsy's Vow was published there. 

Fleming also wrote under two pseudonyms, Cousin May Carleton and M. A. Earlie. The exact count is unclear, since her works were often retitled, but is estimated at around 40, although some were not actually written by her, but were attributed to her by publishers cashing in on her popularity.  At her peak, she was earning over $10,000 yearly.

She died March 24, 1880 in Brooklyn, New York  of Bright's disease.

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