As a young woman widowed by World War I, Raissa James is no stranger to ghosts. But when an invitation arrives from Caoin House, her uncle's estate in Mobile, Alabama, she's finally ready to cast off the shadows of her past. And what better way to do so than with a grand party in her honor? An aspiring authoress, Raissa's eager to soak up more of life - and immerse herself in the dark history that haunts the estate.
But the revelries come to an abrupt end when one of her uncle's guests takes a deadly plunge. And when a ghost from the property's past, a Confederate soldier, reveals himself to Raissa, she's more determined than ever to get to the heart of the mysterious deaths that plague Caoin House. Enlisting the help of Reginald Proctor, a self-proclaimed medium, she holds a séance to shed light on old secrets. But she discovers that some secrets, even those long dead, still have a startling hold on the living....
©2016 Carolyn Haines (P)2016 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.
I was surprised by the awareness that in the 1920s, the Civil War was only 60 years past. So many big changes: automobiles, women's fashions, WWI, prohibition. Yet, this story in Mobile, Alabama shows that a lot hadn't changed. The importance of bloodlines, Ku Klux Klan, social status/reputations, and long-time secrets kept for generations. The Book of the Beloved was a secret that kept departed souls from moving on to find peace. They're waiting for truths to be told concerning evil deeds of grandfathers; stolen Choctaw children sold as slaves or murdered, lonely wives with their slave male prostitutes while husbands were off at war. Much is revealed when a young women who sees ghosts visits her uncle's estate. She eventually unravels the mystery and motive for the death a man fallen from the roof during one of her uncle's parties. Seances, scary attic adventures, a kidnapping, all woven together to make an intriguing tale of ghosts and a smart young woman detective. Most enjoyable.
The story is unsurprising basic fare: a widow, a kindly uncle, a mansion, ghosts, hidden secrets. I bought it because it was a Deal of the Day and was set in Louisiana, where I am from. Some period novels offer the bonus of pulling you into a different time and place - not this one.
What was nearly unbearable was the narrator. Don't they have auditions before they select the person? She was perfectly fine for the heroine, but her men all sounded like caricatures. They all speak in low growls, all with same intonation, as though each sentence were an important declaration. From the young gay man to the aging uncle to the handsome young family lawyer who courts the heroine to the sheriff, they all talk in deep, pompous voices and by the middle of the book, I really couldn't stand it anymore. One has to known one's limitations! If she can't do men's voices, she should just do them in an ordinary pitch - that would have been enough, her female voices were a bit higher anyway and one would have heard the difference. But the worst part was when she also added accents. The housekeeper's son for unknown reasons spoke in a heavy French accent, while his mother had no accent at all. One of the men on the staff had an accent that I can only guess was supposed to be Scottish, maybe...but random mispronunciations and frequent rollings of the r do not a Scottish accent make. She needs to stick with American women's voices ...PLEASE.
Your enjoyment of The Book of the Beloved will not be complete until you’ve allowed Carly Robins to read it to you. Her pronunciations and inflections made me best friend and confidant of the heroine and took me back in time to unbelievable happenings in Old Mobile when death and ghosts are not the most shocking occurrences.
Carolyn Haines knowledge of people, their failings and their strengths, and her ability to put us right there in the middle of it all.
Vivacious survivor of the ghostly past
Eagerly awaiting Book 2
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