Mistress of Mellyn, by Victoria Holt

Guess what, I started a book club!

Our first meeting was a week ago or so, and I’m so excited to get together with some awesome women to talk about books, and hopefully be introduced to a lot of things I wouldn’t have found before!

Here’s the first book we read, going for something light, short, and little bit guilty pleasure:

Mistress-of-Mellyn

Mistress of Mellyn is a “romantic novel of suspense” published in 1960 by English author Eleanor Hibbert (Victoria Holt is one of many pseudonyms she used over 50+ years of publishing) and was recommended by a friend who loves this book.

Martha Leigh is a gentlewoman of little fortune and no husband, and is therefore in need of going to work for other wealthy individuals as a governess.  She travels to Mount Mellyn and the home of Connan TreMellyn where she is to take charge of his daughter Alvean. While learning the ropes of governess-ing, Miss Leigh also hears rumors regarding the death of the former mistress of Mount Mellyn who died in a train accident the night she ran off with her lover.

The book mostly follows three story lines – Miss Leigh’s inroads with Alvean (who is spoiled and difficult) and another young girl on the property, Gilly, Miss Leigh’s relationship with Connan TreMellyn, and Miss Leigh’s interest in his late wife Alice, and what became of her.

Although a little predictable and borrowing quite heavily on gothic novels such as Jane Eyre and Rebecca, Mistress of Mellyn was a fun little read.  (SPOILER ALERT from here on out) Although I would have loved to see Connan TreMellyn to have been involved in the murder plot, after all I just didn’t believe his declarations of love – they seemed sudden and out of nowhere, much like the first kiss he forced on Miss Leigh – the end was still fairly satisfying.  We knew she’d find Alice, and we certainly suspected the chapel for all it’s spooky foreshadowing, but little Gilly’s role is saving the day was downright charming.

I’m not sure that I enjoyed the writing enough to seek out other novels by Eleanor Hibbert, but it was a quick read, and if you are a fan of Jane Eyre, and more specifically Jane Eyre fan fiction, you might enjoy this one.  In fact, there was a certain moment after Connan TreMellyn’s declaration of love that I thought, this is kind of like Jane Eyre in an alternate universe, had Mr. Rochester killed Bertha rather than locking her up in a closet and Jane hadn’t had the sense to leave when he was acting a fool the day he was discovered.  (Alas, it was not to be.  Although, that is a story I’d like to read!)

K’s rating of Mistress of Mellyn: 6/10 mangoes

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