Friday, August 26, 2011
Review: Lord of the Far Island by Victoria Holt
Ellen Kellaway has lived her whole life through the charity of others and her aunt never lets her forget it. Her mother is dead and she hasn't seen her father since she was a baby. Ellen is spunky, smart, and talkative, so when she realizes that she's going to be forced to be a governess, she feels like her freedom is running out. Then as luck would have it, she finds a way out through marriage to a wealthy young man she has known all her life. However, Ellen starts to feel doubtful about her choice in a husband. Then Ellen gets a letter from her father's family. They want her to come live with them on a remote island off of England's coast. Ellen jumps at the chance. Once there though, she can't shake the feeling that something terrible is going to happen. Someone wants her dead, but who?
While I enjoyed the first Victoria Holt novel I read, The Bride of Pendorric, I really enjoyed Lord of the Far Island. I got into the story right away and read it quickly. I felt that the relationship that Ellen developes in this book is so much more believable than Favel's relationship with Roc. She knows the man for a while and can really develope feelings for him. It feels more real. The story was a bit predictable and ran a bit like the Pendorric book, but the development of the relationship as well as the main character herself made the story so much better. This story, and even its ending, seemed so much more natural. I also prefered Ellen over Favel. She is more likeable. She doesn't just fall in love with the first man who swoons over her. Ellen is intelligent, witty, and opinionated, and likes it to be known. She is very adventurous and can stand on her own two feet. My kind of gal if you know what I mean. I liked Favel in the Pendorric book, but she got on my nerves at times because of her dependence on her husband.
I loved the characters and the setting. Holt is able to mesh a scary gothic-esque setting with a beautiful setting. Ellen loves the house and the island because of its beauty but it can also seem foreboding at times because of its isolation. The characters were extremely well written. Slack was my personal favorite. The villagers call him "dumb", but he is so kind and actually very smart. He is brilliant with birds and soon becomes a close friend of Ellen. Holt makes certain characters suspicious to both Ellen and the reader because of subtle little details. The way a person responds to a question or comment, or certain circumstances that are hinted at before something bad happens, makes you start suspecting characters that you thought were good. Unlike the Pendorric book, I had no idea in Lord of the Far Island what was going on or who was up to no good. Bride of Pendorric was suspenseful, but this book was even more so.
I definitely recommend this book. If you read the Pendorric book and weren't super fond of it, you should read Lord of the Far Island. It can be predictable if you've read the other one, but not so predictable that you can't enjoy it and guess what's going to happen.
And now some favorite quotes to showcase Victoria Holt's fabulous writing:
Page 40: I tried not to think about it, but my habit of thrusting aside the unpleasant and deluding myself into the belief that it would never happen was not quite so successful as usual.
Page 156: When a house has stood for seven hundred years much must have happened within its walls. If those stones could speak what tales they would have to tell! And in houses such as this there would have been gaiety and sorrow, comedy and tragedy. I have the feeling sometimes that these emotions have been captured and held within stone walls and that there are times when they cannot keep them secret.
Title: Lord of the Far Island
Author: Victoria Holt
Date of Publication: 1975 (original)
Number of Pages: 336
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Romance
Source: Personal Copy