Sunday, November 8, 2009
Despite his admonitions to stay away, Lady Julia arrives in Yorkshire to find Brisbane as remote and maddeningly attractive as ever. Cloistered together, they share the moldering house with the proud but impoverished remnants of an ancient family -- the sort that keeps their bloodline pure and their secrets close. Lady Allenby and her daughters, dependent upon Brisbane and devastated by their fall in society, seem adrift on the moor winds, powerless to change their fortunes. But poison does not discriminate between classes….
A mystery unfolds from the rotten heart of Grimsgrave, one Lady Julia may have to solve alone, as Brisbane appears inextricably tangled in its heinous twists and turns. But blood will out, and before spring touches the craggy northern landscape, Lady Julia will have uncovered a Gypsy witch, a dark rider and a long-buried legacy of malevolence and evil.
Book Three of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries, I had high hopes that there would be a lot more interaction between Lady Julia and Brisbane. Alas, he seemed as remote as ever, they were apart for the greater part of the book. I found him hopeless at times. I was so frustrated with their relationship! Poor Lady Julia goes all the way to the bleak moors of Yorkshire, land of the Brontes in all it's Gothic glory, to be with Brisbane for she feels he needs her. Instead, he barely has anything to do with her. Occasionally he would give in to a passionate kiss, and then push her away, telling her to leave cryptically, before storming off to help find a sheep or something of the sort. Of course, not until the end of the book to we become privy to his thoughts and learn why he behaved the way he did - but still! I found him quite annoying for the most part!
So, because Brisbane was basically not around, Lady Julia had to amuse herself and turn her attentions to the mysterious and strange Allenby family, the previous owners of the remote and crumbling Yorkshire estate that Brisbane has taken over. Julia slowly but surely unearths some dark family secrets surrounding the now dead heir to the Allenby line, Redwall Allenby. Redwall, an Egyptian scholar is the late brother of two very strange sisters. Lady Julia takes it upon herself to catalog all of the artifacts he collected from Egypt in order to sell them off to provide for his sisters and mother. Little does she know that she will find two dead babies hidden in a priest's hole in his study that appear to be mummified. But, these are not ancient babies, they are relatively new and Julia is determined, with Brisbane's help, to find out who they belonged to, and how they got there.
Meanwhile, Julia has become friends with the local Gypsy healer, Rosalie, who turns out to be Brisbane's aunt. She is a flamboyant character who reveals more facts about Brisbane's childhood so that we get a more complete picture of who Brisbane is and why. I liked Rosalie's character and she gave some pizzazz to what I considered a drab storyline. There were some bright notes such as the mating of Mr. Pugglesley and Florence (from the last book) - I can't imagine what ugly puppies they'd have! But even Julia's siblings, Portia and Val seemed depressed and out of sorts. There was no humor or fun, aside from some of the catty thoughts Julia had for Hilda Allenby, one of the two strange sisters who had a fondness for raising poultry. This book was bleak in comparison to the first two books in the series, although it was in keeping with the locale of the moors. The entire book oozed "gothic" and there were many send ups and references to Wuthering Heights and the Bronte Sisters in general. Plenty of odd characters in the Allenby family alone. Still, I found the mystery itself lacklustre and predictable and only the very ending of the book made up for Brisbane's lack of affection towards Julia for the majority of it. I'm sure fans of this series will agree with me, the ending was very satisfying.
On another note, I listened to this book on audiobook and was very disappointed in the narrator, which probably affected my opinion on the book itself. Beware of the audible edition with Margo Westwood as the reader. Don't get it. She sounded like she was channeling Bette Davis as Margo Channing in All About Eve. Over the top with the melodrama, some day I will re-read this in print, just so that I can eradicate the picture in my mind and give Lady Julia a better version in my head of what her voice should be like. She deserves better. Although, Ms. Westwood was very good at doing the voice of Rosalie the Gypsy woman.
All in all, it was a good book, but to do it justice, I need to re-read it, I think I will enjoy it a lot more in print than on audio. I'm very much looking forward to the further adventures of Lady Julia and Brisbane in the next book in the series, which I believe is in the making and will send them to India!