Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bookish Thoughts: Miramont's Ghost by Elizabeth Hall

She sat at the piano, fingers still poised over the now-silent keys. ~ Opening of Miramont's Ghost



Miramont's Ghost by Elizabeth Hall
Lake Union Publishing, 2015
Fiction (Historical); 334 pgs

From the Publisher: 
Miramont Castle, built in 1897 and mysteriously abandoned three years later, is home to many secrets. Only one person knows the truth: Adrienne Beauvier, granddaughter of the Comte de Challembelles and cousin to the man who built the castle. Clairvoyant from the time she could talk, Adrienne's visions show her the secrets of those around her. When her visions begin to reveal dark mysteries of her own aristocratic French family, Adrienne is confronted by her formidable Aunt Marie, who is determined to keep the young woman silent at any cost. Marie wrenches Adrienne from her home in France and takes her to America, to Miramont Castle, where she keeps the girl isolated and imprisoned. Surrounded by eerie premonitions, Adrienne is locked in a life-or-death struggle to learn the truth and escape her torment. Reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, this hauntingly atmospheric tale is inspired by historical research into the real-life Miramont Castle in Manitou Springs, Colorado.
The prologue opens with our dear Adrienne looking back in time, remembering her life, how happy she once was and then at the terrible turn her life took. It is a strong opening, one that drew me in immediately. Next the reader is running in the fields in France with a young Adrienne who is happy and carefree.  Life was indeed good for the young girl at that time. Her grandfather was her world and his love made everything all right. At four, Adrienne did not understand the fear her clairvoyance struck in others. She did not fully understand what her visions were or what they meant. It was a gift she inherited from her grandmother, or was it really more of a curse?

I hesitated in including the book blurb for a couple of reasons. The main one being that a good portion of it does not take place until the last third of the book. Much of the book is of Adrienne's life in France, in the mansion she was raised in. The reader sees her grow up and how she changes as she learns the dangers of her visions, warned by her grandfather to keep them to herself. There's a subtle building of tension  with each turn of the page between Adrienne and her Aunt Marie who clearly sees Adrienne as a threat. Adrienne is not sure why--not until much later.

Adrienne had so little guidance as a child in terms of her visions. She had a supportive nanny who listened to her, but really didn't understand herself.  Adrienne's grandfather tried to protect her by not talking directly to her about the risks of talking about her visions. Adrienne's mother was too lost in her own drama--and a little afraid of her daughter--that she was not really much in the way of a mother to Adrienne at all. It was hard not to like Adrienne, in all her innocence and with her kind heart.

When the events unfold with her aunt and cousin in the later half of the book, as we learn their secrets and truths that had been buried, the novel takes a very dark turn. The reader and Adrienne are taken to Miramont Castle in Manitou Springs, Colorado, a beautiful place, much like the part of France in which Adrienne grew up. Adrienne's cousin is a Catholic Priest there, having before served in Santa Fe among Native Americans who were less than thrilled with the Church's encroachment on their lives and beliefs.

I especially enjoyed the historical aspects of the novel, from the conversations between the characters about life in America to the history of Miramont Castle and its occupants. Aunt Marie and her son see the world through late 1890's European eyes, a time when Native Americans were viewed by many as "savages" and efforts were being made to "civilize" them. Every time Aunt Marie would open her mouth just about, I would cringe. She was a rather despicable woman.  Even taking in her past, I never grew to like her or even sympathize with her.  The story of Miramont Castle is both a sad and dark one. Elizabeth Hall weaves fiction with that history in such a way you believe it could have perhaps happened that way. I won't say more for fear of spoiling the story.  I was also very curious about that time period in France, the role women played in society and the social and economic issues of the day.

I have not read Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca and so cannot speak as to any comparison. I do know I want to read Rebecca even more now. I love a Gothic novel. Admittedly, I was not as enamored by Miramont's Ghost as I hoped to be. It is hard to put my finger on exactly why. I wanted more. More character depth, more build up earlier on in the book in terms of tension and what was to come. Subtle is necessary in books like this, but I felt there was too much subtlety. It made what came later, some aspects of the story at least, seem too abrupt.

While I did not fall in love with Elizabeth Hall's Miramont's Ghost the way I hoped I would, I did enjoy reading the novel overall. I was intrigued by Adrienne's plight and frightened for her at the same time. Miramont's Ghost is a compelling read, both disturbing and rich in history, and definitely thought provoking.


Rating: * (Good)

I hope you will check out what others had to say about Miramont's Ghost on the TLC Book Tours route!




Many thanks to the TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour. E-Copy of the book provided by the publisher.


© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

26 comments:

  1. I know what you mean by needing some buildup at the beginning. I think for certain books that is absolutely necessary without overdoing it. I would have expected it too. I really like the sound of this book and will probably give it a try but I will try to not let the lack of buildup bother me much.

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    1. Ahtira - You might really like this one. I know many have! The author takes her time introducing the characters and getting to the final climax of the story. So, in that way, there was plenty of build-up. I just wish perhaps she had added in more tension leading up to the final third of the book. It may not be an issue for you.

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  2. I got this one for my Kindle the other day and will likely get to it at some point. I was interested in the house in Manitou Springs. Seems like that part doesn't come into play until quite far along in the book. Good to know your thoughts. You should read REBECCA or at least watch the movie. I liked it a lot, but some in my mystery group felt like it was too much of a romance novel. LOL

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    1. Kay - I'll be curious to know what you think of it when you get to it. I don't mind romance and so am sure that aspect won't bother me when I do get to Rebecca. :-) It's good to know that was a disappointment for some of your mystery group members though.

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  3. This intrigues me - I love Rebecca (go read it!!) and I like old spooky houses and historical elements. I do wish it had really grabbed you more. I'll still probably read this one but it won't be at the top of my stack.

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    1. Katherine - Hopefully you will be one of those people who really loves this book when you do read it. I definitely was inspired to read up on Miramont Castle after reading this book.

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  4. I have this one and have given it one try, but it wasn't keeping my interest. I may make another attempt at some point. Marie annoyed me profoundly. :/

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    1. Jenclair - Marie was an awful person. It does take awhile for anything to really happen in the book; at least that's how I felt.

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  5. I read Rebecca in junior high, and I loved it. :-) I might check this one out too.

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    1. Irene - I need to move Rebecca up on my to read list. So many people seem to love it.

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  6. I enjoyed reading Rebecca! And I like atmospheric setting so I may want to check this out.

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    1. Melody - I like atmospheric settings also! I hope you like Miramont's Ghost if you do read it.

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  7. Miramont's Ghost sounds good, I like the setting and the historical aspects of it. Glad you enjoyed it overall. Sadly Aunt Marie's beliefs were what most people believed back then, as they were being told that the Native Americans were savages, and animals even. Isn't that crazy?
    Great review as usual.

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    1. Naida - I guess I just wished I had liked it more. Yes, I imagine Marie's beliefs were common at the time. I just wish she'd been a nicer person all around. She was so awful.

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  8. I read Rebecca & thought it was ok, not sure this one would be for me. Thanks for reviewing, think this may be a hit with my sister so shall pass on the title.

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

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    1. Lainy - Having not yet read Rebecca, I cannot really make a comparison as to the two books. I think I will like Rebecca though--but who knows until I try it, right?

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  9. Definitely one I'd like to check out. I do like a good gothic feel! It's been a very long time since I read Rebecca but it was a wonderful book. I hope you get to it one of these days.

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    1. Iliana - I hope so too. I just started re-reading Jane Eyre and am already swept up in its pages.

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  10. Good review, sounds like a great book. Love your cat blog header too!

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    1. Erin - Thank you! My husband put the blog header together. :-)

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    1. Heather - I am glad I could be a part of it! Thank you.

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  12. Oh my goodness but you really must read Rebecca :) A really great read although I enjoyed My Cousin Rachel even more. I am impatiently waiting for my library to get a copy of this one. It sounds good so I'm looking forward to it. Thanks for the honest review!

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    1. Samantha - I should! Before the year is out, at least. I have heard great things about My Cousin Rachel too. I hope you like Miramont's Ghost, Samantha. It's got mixed reviews, I know and I feel like I'm sort of on the fence about recommending it to others. I liked it overall, but there was enough that gave me pause that I hesitate, you know?

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  13. I loved Rebecca! It's time I re-read it. This book sounds very interesting (and creepy!). I'd be curious to see the parallels to Rebecca.

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    1. A.M.B. - Miramont's Ghost did have a few creepy moments, although not as many as I would have liked. I'll be curious to know how it compares to Rebecca too.

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