Marianne Ransome becomes a penniless orphan in 1880 when Squire R. dies, so her only hope is to find a ""suitable...



Marianne Ransome becomes a penniless orphan in 1880 when Squire R. dies, so her only hope is to find a ""suitable situation"" as a London companion or governess. Once in the big city, however, gorgeous, innocent Marianne slips away from her landlady/chaperone, seeks work as a singer, and is immediately hired to chirp at the Alhambra Supper Club--a naughty spot where the naive lass attracts the eye of a Byronic swain and the groping attentions of hideous Percival Bagstock. Fleeing from Bagstock to a dull suburban governess job, Marianne despairs. . . but who should then rescue her but the Byronic type, lawyer Roger Carlton? He sweeps her off to the manse of the dear old Dowager Duchess of Devenbrook--who is convinced that Marianne is the illegitimate daughter of the late, legendary medium David Holmes! How to test this theory? SÉances, of course--and medium Marianne does okay, summoning up a Holmes materialization and a spirit control named Pudenzia. When the household moves to the Duchess' Scottish castle, however, things get gothic and tormented for poor Marianne: she feels guilty about spiritualism (especially when preached at by the local matinee-idol minister); she sees and hears the usual nighttime flutters; the resident Irish tutor is a lech; the local doctor labels her mediumism ""hysteria""; beloved Byronic Roger acts oddly; and there's suspicion that the increasingly stormy sÉances might be due to mischief from the Duchess' odd relatives (an epileptic step-grandson, a cat-fanatic stepdaughter). Finally, with the Duchess' health failing (she gets ghostly summonses from dead David), plots unfurl, Marianne is kidnapped (re-enter hideous Bagstock!), and there's an appearance (in flesh, not spirit) by legendary David, not dead after all. Far from Michaels' top-drawer table-turning--the Victorian pace is sloggy, the plot is murky--but enough offbeat characters and creepy pseudo-visitations to keep her fans reasonably charmed and chilled.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1980

ISBN: 0727849174

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dodd, Mead

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1980