Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Bride of Pendorric by Victoria Holt
Narrator: Henrietta Meire
Published by Tantor Audio on April 25, 2023
Genres: Historical Mystery, Historical Romance
Length: 10 hours, 38 minutes
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When Favel Farrington met Roc Pendorric on the Italian island where she lived with her father, they fell deeply in love, and there was no reason to suspect that they would not live happily ever after. Then Faval's father was drowned while swimming, a circumstance that was as puzzling to Favel as it was heartbreaking. No one could have been more devoted during these sad days than Roc, and when he took her home to Pendorric, the ancient family home on the Cornish cliffs, no family could have welcomed her more warmly than Roc's sister, her husband, and twin daughters. In fact everyone in the house and the village was eager to meet "the bride of Pendorric".
At first the phrase amused Favel. Then she found herself looking more and more often at the portraits of two other Brides of Pendorric who had died young and tragically - one of them Roc's own mother. The very stones of Pendorric seemed to be waiting for her to slip; the courtyard seemed to have eyes. And was there speculation even in the eyes of the young twins, who watched her constantly? Did she imagine it, or was Roc curiously attentive to other women at Pendorric - and did his absence grow more frequent? Surely no legend, no evil out of the past could threaten their happiness. Surely Roc's love for her had not been pretense.
At last, in a terrifying moment, Favel can no longer dismiss as accident the strange things that are happening to her at Pendorric. She must confront the very real dangers of the present.
Victoria Holt was one of my Big Three intros to classic, gothic romantic suspense along with Phyllis Whitney and Mary Stewart. I devoured her huge backlist as a teenager and pretty much loved it all. It has been many years and many twists in my reading taste since I picked up one of her books and when I spotted Bride of Pendorric re-released in audio, I was curious to revisit a world Victoria Holt was superb at creating.
Bride of Pendorric was not one I remembered at all, but I was struck when I started listening by the familiar vibes of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. Not exactly and milder, though the scope was just as broad with its atmospheric settings and situations, mysterious events and the legend of the tragic Pendorric Brides. The almost naïve and innocent young heroine in a whirlwind romance and marriage to an older worldly, and slightly jaded man who kept big secrets and a brooding house and household back home. Oh yes, it definitely had delicious Rebecca overtones and I was all in for that.
This was written in the 1960’s as a current romantic suspense. My first read was in the 80’s and it felt ‘classic’ then. Now, after reading and listening to books with an even much greater time gap, I really felt like I was listening to a classic and a time long gone. Favel’s gentle persona and Roc’s overbearing behavior reflected the times and the isolated feeling needed for such a gothic story to work its wiles on the heroine and her own temperament doing the rest.
The story builds a setting and a feeling which includes all the characters surrounding Favel when she swiftly marries Roc after her father’s death and goes home with him to discover there is something wrong and still going on at Roc’s home in Cornwall. Though gentle, there is a quiet strength to Favel that she discovers as she faces it all even the possibility that her own husband may be a villain. I loved the moderate thrills and chills that come from her investigation and road to discovery.
Revisiting a book years later can be a chancy thing, but I loved Bride of Pendorric and now I have a thirst for more along the same vein and from the same author. Those who like milder, but no less atmospheric gothic romantic suspense should snatch this one up.
Henrietta Meire was a new to me narrator. She was a great match for this story that is told from Favel’s point of view. She voiced the cast of characters well and she caught the tone of each scene and the buildup of the story fabulously.
Listen to a clip: HERE
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