Tag Archives: Victorian ghost stories

A Devilish Fine Woman

The Romance of Certain Old Clothes   by Henry James (1886)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   May 27, 2014

la_toilette_boucher_1742

 

Romance of Certain Old Clothes is about female sexual rivalry. Two sisters are deliciously jealous of one another. We are in Massachusetts in the country home of the Wingrave family [in some versions the Willoughby family]. Perdita and Rosalind [in some versions Rosalind is renamed Viola] are both attractive young women with an older brother.

Rosalind “is tall and white, with calm gray eyes and auburn tresses; a very faint likeness to the Rosalind of Shakespeare’s comedy.” And a tad plump, she is, with a cold eye on everything around her. Perdita is the sweetest and has “the cheek of a gipsy and the eye of an eager child, as well as the smallest waist and lightest foot.”

early-1800s-dandy

 

Mr. Arthur Lloyd arrives, a handsome gentleman, rich in sterling pounds,good health, well educated, and a traveler.

Poor Arthur, for he is compelled to choose between the two sisters for his bride. At one point you might wonder if the man is falling in love with both beauties. Hmmm, this smacks of an odd threesome, but we are in Victorian times in New England so that Puritan repression holds Mr. Lloyd in place.

 

 

 

A drama takes center stage between Rosalind and Perdita for this prize marriage, and of course for property—the theme of possessions run high as does the desire to be Mr. Lloyd’s object of beauty in fine dresses and jewels. Who does Mr. Lloyd carry off as his wife to his new estate? I’ll never tell.

crane-necked-phaeton

 

Don’t miss the irony, the intrigue, the clever ambiguity that is Henry James’ signature; he gives us a well-crafted psychological ghost story, and so very Gothic. In the end, one of the sisters has a most sinister win.

Jakab_Marastoni_-_Woman_Seated_before_a_Mirror_-_WGA14040.

 

imagesHenry James wrote this story when he was in his twenties and this was his first attempt at supernatural fiction.

 

Read The Romance of Certain Old Clothes at HenryJames.org

Listen to the audio recording (scroll to Number 9) at Librivox.org

 

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica.com

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

     The Gothic Wanderer   Sirens Call Publications  The Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic authors.

 

First image above is by Francios Boucher 1770s.

Bottom image is by Jakab Marastoni Woman Seated before a Mirror 1840s.

 

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Filed under fiction, ghost stories, literature, psychological horror, short stories, tales of terror

Murder, Romance, and a Vengeful Ghost

Eveline’s Visitant by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   February 12, 2013

The dark side of nature in Victorian times (1830s to 1900) was a fascination by many, including writers. Ghost stories were especially popular and Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Eveline’s Visitant is a part of English literature that we can certainly savor. Women writers at the time brought a special atmosphere of evil and fear, and Braddon is among the best of them.

We begin at a masked ball at the Palais Royal in France. Andre de Brissac is murdered by his cousin, Hector, the narrator of our story. As Andre lay dying on the ground—and despite Hector’s plea for forgiveness—Andre vows his ghostly hand to return and drop a poison into Hector’s “cup of joy.”

Hector becomes a rich man by Andre’s death. But he is miserable with this inherited wealth, with becoming master of the Andre’s chateau, Puy Verdun, where he is totally disliked by all—servants, neighbors, even the villagers.

Here the author Braddon employs the powers of the love story. Hector falls for an angelic young woman, Eveline, in Paris. He feels redeemed as Eveline is deeply in love with him. They marry and live happily ever after at the chateau Puy Verdun … or do they?

Shadows of the dead prevail.

As predictable as this story may be, the writing is expertly executed with suspense in character and plot and the ending truly haunting.

Read it here:

http://arthursclassicnovels.com/braddon/evevis10.html

If you’d like to read more of Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s work, try The Cold Embrace http://gaslight.mtroyal.ca/coldembr.htm

And The Shadow in the Corner

http://www.gothichorrorstories.com/classic-gothic-ghost-stories/the-shadow-in-the-corner/

Stop by next Tuesday for another Tale of Terror.

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Filed under fiction, ghost stories, Hauntings, horror, mysteries, quiet horror, short stories, supernatural, suspense, tales of terror