STEAMBOAT GOTHIC by Frances Parkinson Keyes


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In the tradition of her River Road and Crescent Carnival this is a regional period novel, with full panoply of post Civil War decorative details. Mrs. Keyes spins a readable tale of love and hate, of a revenge long plotted, of truths glossed over and concealed, of blackmail and its aftermath. Three generations are spanned- from the marriage of Clyde Batchelor, reformed river gambler, to the lovely widowed Lucy Page of Richmond's elite, to her grandson, Larry, who marries a French girl and brings her back to be chatelaine of the Steamboat Gothic mansion in which he had lived with his beloved ""grandfather"". In between, Lucy had found marriage with Clyde a challenge and a joy; the secret they both concealed occasionally lay between them, but in the main served only to deepen their devotion. But Lucy's spoiled son, Bushrod, used it as a club over Clyde's head- and drained him financially to the point of bankruptcy. It is the story, too, of Lucy's daughter, Cary, schooled to extravagance and wealth, and finding in the disillusionment of her love affair with Pierre, a measuring rod of her inner strength and maturity. Up to the point of the fire which wiped out most of the family and left baby Larry and Clyde alone, the story is tightly plotted and holding. The last section- Larry's childhood, his war years, his stormy romance- seems synthetic and contrived. But the things that will be held in remembrance long after the book is read are the intimate details of living,- the clothes, the food, the homes, the authentic bits of local color and period flavor, as a Louisiana plantation comes to life.

Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 1952
Publisher: Messner