Chateau of Secrets revisited

chateausecret close up

Chateau of Secrets was the very first gothic I reviewed on this blog. It’s a short, enjoyable romp following the misadventures of Ann Preston who travels to France and finds herself enmeshed in her own chateau of secrets, along with some very peculiar characters. My original ramblings can be read HERE.

chateau-of-secretsPublished by Five Star, this is one of my favourite covers. The artwork is different from most in this genre and at the time I posted the review, apart from a backwards signature just visible under the subject’s right arm, I had no idea who the artist was.

So it was a lovely surprise when Lynn Munroe emailed me with a link to his new spring catalogue, detailing the work of artist Tom Miller.

Lynn’s comprehensive biography and checklist includes a scan of the same portrait used for Chateau of Secrets gracing another cover – a Fawcett Crest publication of Vladimir Nabokov’s Mary. You can see Miller’s artwork was flipped in the Five Star edition (hence the backward signature).

It’s always a thrill when I come across a favourite cover being used on an unfamiliar book. Comparing the two, I think the change of perspective subtly alters her expression and that she looks more pensive on the gothic.

What do you think? The two covers can be seen together HERE along with a biography and more fine examples of Tom Miller’s work HERE.

Thank you Lynn!

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Chateau of Secrets

“Heartbeats…. If she ever married she would marry someone like Steve Martin, the young writer she had bumped into at the airport – dark, good-looking, with smiling eyes and a sense of humour. She would have good cause to cherish his name.

Ann Preston arrived at Chateau Duval – a house that had known only tears and heartbreak – a house that had died. Almost immediately she was plunged into a nightmare world of dark secrets.

Pierre Duval, the ex-trapeze artist…Juliette, his wife, who keeps a snake for a pet… Yvette, the beautiful daughter, in love with Steve and determined to get her own way….the pungent smell of lilies of the valley and dead leaves coupled with shrill maniacal laughter….

Who is the mysterious occupant of the Chateau’s ruined left wing?”

Written by Julie Wellsley and published 1972 by Five Star paperback.

chateau of secretsOur heroine, Ann Preston, has accepted a live-in job as a secretary with the sinister Duval family in France and has ended up with a little more than a delusional boss and a pile of paperwork to deal with. Someone or something is trying to kill her and, though a range of suspects present themselves early on, the who’s and why’s kept me guessing till (nearly) the end.

This is a nicely paced novel with an interesting mix of characters – I particularly liked the embittered and twisted old matriarch, Juliette, who spent most her time hobbling away in the shadows, crooning sweet nothings to her beloved pet python. Unfortunately there are no supernatural elements but there are still plenty of gothic touches to add atmosphere – including derangement, disfigurement, a crumbly big house and the odd murder or two. Of course it all ends happy ever after but the romance is kept low key and out of the way of the mystery.

The cover art is atypical to most from this genre, having neither the gloomy, doomy colour scheme nor the scary house in the background, but is beautifully done and alluring nonetheless. If you look closely you can see a backward signature under her right arm which looks like the name ‘Miller’.

Other books written by Julie Wellsley include Climb the Dark Mountan and Tall, Dark Stranger. Three out of five stars.