A Long Fatal Love Chase

LongFatalLoveChase

A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott

This book by Louisa May Alcott is the anti-Northanger Abbey. That is everything that could go wrong. But I’m getting ahead of myself, first some background.

This book was written in 1866. Alcott had just returned from her job as a companion to a wealthy women during her trip abroad and all throughout Europe. When Alcott came home she discovered that her father had run through almost all their money. Eager to do her part in helping out, she started writing stories and attempted to get them published.

Newspapers were the big story publishers, printing them week by week and often paying per word. Now this was before radio and TV, so these weekly publications of stories was their version of soap operas, every week ending on a cliffhanger.

Since the purpose was to get the reader hooked and constantly buying to find what happened next, they really wanted dramatic stories. Alcott did her best to oblige, only problem? She did a little too well.

Her book was not published as it was far too racy for the day. Think of it as the Fifty Shades of Grey of the 19th century. Yep this novel deals with sex, violence, obsession, abuse, hypocrisy in religion, greed, the question of insanity, mistreatment of women, women’s rights, divorce, bigamy, suicide, murder, etc.

What?

While today’s audiences would go for all that, those back in 1866 dropped it like a hot potato. Alcott shelved the book, it not being published until 1995.

Wow

How Does It Relate to Northanger Abbey?

Hmm…

Well, first you have to understand how Northanger Abbey came about.

In 1605, Don Quixote, by Miguel Cervantes, was published. This book told the story of Don Quixote, a Spanish nobleman, who reads so many chivalric and romantic  stories (not romance stories as we have today, but the “classical romances”) that he sort of loses his sanity trying to live those values and live in that world, in the modern 17th century. He gets into all kind of crazy antics, battling other “knights”, “monsters”, etc.

In 1752, Charlotte Lennox parodied Don Quixote with her novel, The Adventures of Arabella also known as The Female Quixote. Her story is about a young girl, Arabella, who has been sequestered away in the middle of nowhere with just her father for companionship. Not encountering many people and her mother dying + father ignoring her; she learned all about people and how to interact with them from “classical romances”. This book goes over the problems of having read so many “romance novels”, you expect life to follow, only to be sorely disappointed.

Now Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, published in 1818, was meant to be a parody of The Female Quixote, gothic fiction, societal rules of the day, etc. One of the reasons why a lot of people don’t “get” this novel is that they don’t understand what she is poking fun at or trying to say about these subjects.

Hmm…

In Austen’s story, we have a young girl, Catherine, who has been raised not as sequestered as Arabella, but definitely in the country resulting in some naivety. She loves romance novels and gothic fiction, giving her an overactive imagination.

She is asked to accompany family friends to Bath for a season and while there finds herself encountering some of the problems of the other before mentioned characters. Her education in romance novels didn’t prepare her for how people act. Her overactive imagination does get the best of her as well. The other thing about this book is that Catherine does go through some events that are right out of a romance novel or gothic tale.

She meets two handsome strangers, both trying to win her; encounters some dangerous and immoral men; gets caught up in a plot to get money; and has the man of her dreams come after her to tell her he loves her.

So awesome!

And then we have A Long Fatal Love Chase, written in 1866, and follows the same veins as these other books, except taking a much darker twist.

Now I don’t know if Alcott has read any of these authors and set out to copy part of their ideas or what; but the stories are so similar I can’t help but believe that at least one of these authors inspired her.

The Plot:

A Long Fatal Love Chase, begins with our heroine Rosamund or Rose. She has lived on a small island with her grandfather ever since her parents died when she was very young. She has encountered no other people, from the time of her parent’s death, and therefore has a lot of naivete and a lack of propriety as she doesn’t know better.

Just living in my own world

Life with her grandfather is dreary, as he provides for the physical things (shelter, clothes, food, etc) but ignores Rose and doesn’t care for her emotional being.

This makes her wish that she could have someone take her away from it all, just like in the romance novels. In fact she states

“I would give my soul to the devil, for a year of freedom.”

Enter Philip Tempest.

Tall, brooding, handsome, rich, has a swashbuckling scar, sails around the world on his yacht, etc.

He comes to visit Rosamund’s grandfather and is quite taken with Rose’s sweet disposition, naivete, and young, innocent character. Rose falls in love with him, and dreams of the possibility that he might take her away from everything.

Tempest wants Rose and is not a man used to hearing NO. He plays cards with the grandfather, winning Rose.

I’m taking her.

He carries her away in his boat telling her that he is the master and she must serve him. He wants her only as his mistress, but Rose refuses anything until they are married. Tempest reluctantly agrees.

Women

A year later the couple are living in France to attend the gaieties. Besides Rose and Tempest, their party includes Baptiste, Tempest’s right hand man who does everything he says, and Impolito “Lito”, a Greek cabin boy who looks very familiar (aka Tempest’s child, very obvious). All has been great for the couple until Tempest runs into an old friend Willoughby. Willoughby???!!!

He knows something that Tempest is determined to keep hidden, so Tempest kills him.

Gasp!

Unbeknownst to him, a girl from a flower shop delivers a note to Lito, who then runs off to a secret meeting. Rose sees this and comments on it to Tempest. Tempest becomes so furious that Lito would “correspond” with her, that he sends him away.

Hmm…

Later Rose overhears Baptiste telling Tempest that “no one will find him in the grove.” When she goes to investigate she discovers a  mound of dirt as in a new grave, and the pin she gave Lito.

She starts to think that Tempest might have killed Lito. She still has her doubts, of which all are dashed when she overhears another conversation. This time she overhears a conversation between Tempest and a woman, a woman who is HIS WIFE.

Yes Lito is their son, of which Tempest took when he left his wife. He has wanted a divorce but she won’t grant him one unless he gives her custody of their son, something Tempest would never do. He has been sailing around the world with many mistresses, content if not fully happy. He met Rose and faked the marriage in order to make her happy, knowing that it was void. Rose becomes distraught at his lies and betrayal of trust and runs away.

Noooo!

So here’s where it gets even more dramatic. We see a man from a romance character ready to make your dreams come true, right? Wrong! Tempest is an abuser and a controller. He tells Rose that her loves her, but in truth having her being subservient gives him power. Where ever she runs, he chases her, intent on making her his. We have the anti-Northanger Abbey as instead of a dreamy, true life romance hero; we have a sociopath.

Now some may wonder why is Tempest evil, but Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre who does a similar thing romantic? Well for two reasons. The first is that Mr. Rochester was tricked into marrying his wife by his family, who wanted a merger with their business and her family, who no longer wanted to take care of her. They hid the illness well, and when Mr. Rochester discovered how crazy she was it was too late, and those who are insane can’t get divorced. He’s stuck with her.

He has to live with a woman who is more animalistic than human and constantly trying to murder him.

Tempest married a beautiful, wealthy, Greek-English girl; become bored and left. He hates being tied down and loves being in power. He stole their child from his wife and covered it up by having her told Lito was dead. She was heartbroken as she believed him, only discovering the lie when Willoughby writes to her.

Mr. Rochester does try to marry Jane as he falls in love with her, but is stopped from committing bigamy by his wife’s brother. Jane leaves, and as much as he doesn’t want her to go, he respects her wishes and leaves her alone.

Aw!

Tempest marries Rose, having a friend pretend to be a preacher and perform the wedding service. Rose finds out and leaves, Tempest refuses to acknowledge her feelings and actions and stalks her.

What a psycho!

Rose starts work with a seamstress in a French village, but Tempest finds her barricaded in her room. He tells her that he will be getting the divorce soon, and then they can be together forever. That night Rose escapes, with help from a friend, and finds refuge with an actress. She spends some happy time there, and even reunites with Lito, who was not killed but sent somewhere. All is not perfect as Tempest finds them again, and the two flee.

I’m out!

Rose to a convent and Lito to his mother. Later Rose discovers a dead body, and she plants evidence so that people would think it was her.

Hmm…

Rose enjoys being in the convent and serving, paying penance for her sins. She befriends the two priests; Father Dominic the elder, and Father Ignatius, young and deeply in love with Rose. Rose seeks help from Father Dominic to overcome her love and temptation to return to Tempest, only to discover that both the Mother Superior and Father Dominic sold her out to Tempest.

She escapes Tempest again, and reunites with the Comté who’s daughter she saved from dying of fever. He takes care of her and falls in love, asking her to marry him. She agrees and gets ready to, when Tempest finds her once again. He convinces the Comté that Rose is his wife and insane.

You’re crazy!
Crazy, am I? We’ll see whether I’m crazy or not.

As the Comté deserts her, and Tempest is preparing to carry her off, Rose commits suicide, shooting herself.

Unfortunately the shot to her side wasn’t deadly, but does have her thrown into a mental institution (from yours truly Tempest). There she lives some horrible and demoralizing days. She manages to convince Baptiste to turn to her side and help her escape the asylum, only to discover it is another ploy by Tempest to capture her.

AAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tempest carries her away to a remote island, intent on being kind and sweet, wooing her. He is divorced now and wants Rose for his wife and forever. She ends up being saved by Father Ignatious, fleeing to the safety of Tempest’s ex-wife, but finds out that getting out of the Tempest is not easy.

Will it ever be over?

Was the Book Good?

I thought this book was very interesting. And had some pros and cons.

Pros:

First I recommend this book for all Alcott fans as it is so strikingly different from her other works. All the other novels: Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys, The Inheritance, etc.; were dramatic and fun stories; but nowhere near as sensational and traumatic as this book. If it hadn’t said Louisa May Alcott on the cover, I never would have guessed it was something she has written. You won’t understand until you read it and get a shock.

I’m in shock

What also is fascinating is how Alcott brings to light how much power men have over women at this time, and the inequality in relationships. You have to remember this was not done at the time. Women were men’s property and they could not only do as they wished, but held all the power. I don’t know how many of you saw The Duchess, starring Keira Knightly, but look how unfair women are treated. Georgina is a Duke’s wife but is forced to share her home with the Duke’s mistress and the mistress’ children. When she steps out on him, she loses everything; position in society, her children, etc. He gets to do whatever he wants, hit her, embarrass her, rape her; but she has to follow society’s rules.

So not fair!!

This is what happens in this book. Tempest is abusive, a stalker, and a psychopath; but gets to continue in his behavior because he is male. When Father Ignatious helped Rose escape the convent and reach the Comté, he writes the Comté a letter with all that happened and warning him against Tempest. Yet when Tempest comes, the Comté easily believes the woman is crazy, rather than this charismatic man is what Rose and the Priest say he is.

Alcott also brings to light abusive relationships, stalking, what it feels like, etc. This book is sort of the 19th century’s version of Sleeping With the EnemyHere Alcott is clearly showing that this behavior is wrong and should not be accepted.

Cons:

It was too dramatic for my taste. I’m not really a soap opera/telanovela type person. The end in which she is in love with the priest and the priest loves her but both resolve to do nothing about it was not only too flowery, but boring.

For more on Northanger Abbey, go to Read Jane Austen, Wear Jane Austen

For more Northanger Abbey variations, go to Midnight in Austenland

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Prude & Prejudice

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Murder is My Favorite Crime: Laura (1944)

Laura 1944

Murder is my favorite crime.

So I strongly contemplated whether or not I wanted to include this in my Horrorfest. It isn’t really a horror film but more of a mystery thriller, even better defined as a film-noir. I really wanted to include it but, since it wasn’t a real “horror film” I wasn’t sure if I should. But then I had a moment of clarity.

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This is my blog. I can do whatever I want!

Mal_huh Whoa Wow

So I decided I would.

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So this actually started out as a play and then was turned into a novel. Otto Preminger saw it as the perfect thing to turn into a film. It is known to be one of the best Film-Noir films along with one of the best mystery-thriller films of all time. AFI ranked it #4 on their list of the 10 greatest mystery films.

This film is also famous for Gene Tierney’s portrayal of Laura. This helped give her title of “Film-Noir Queen”.

So anyways, on to the film.

So it starts off with New York City police Detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews).

Det. Lt. Mark McPherson laura

He is investigating the death of the beautiful, successful, advertising executive Laura Hunt. Laura was murdered by a shotgun blast to the face.

Det. McPherson starts investigating and finds himself with multiple murder suspects and motives.

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1) Waldo Lybecker

Waldo Lybecker Laura Innocent

Waldo (Clifton Webb) is a famous columnist and he was the one who actually discovered Laura. She tried to get him to advertise something for him, and faster than you could say Pygmalion, he takes her under his wing and tries to change her and “improve” her.

“Waldo Lydecker: She was quick to seize upon anything that would improve her mind or her appearance. Laura had innate breeding, but she deferred to my judgment and taste. I selected a more attractive hairdress for her. I taught her what clothes were more becoming to her. Through me, she met everyone: The famous and the infamous. Her youth and beauty, her poise and charm of manner captivated them all. She had warmth, vitality. She had authentic magnetism. Wherever we went, she stood out. Men admired her; women envied her. She became as famous as Waldo Lydecker’s walking stick and his white carnation.”

But it goes a little more than that. Waldo becomes obsessed with Laura.

800__shadow_of_a_doubt_blu-ray_04_intense stare angry upset mad creep

Yep. He is in love with her and wants to be the only man. Every time some other guy came around he would find a way to criticize them and demean them. The two broke it off, but Laura was very upset with him.

Laura Angry Mad Upset

Laura started dating another guy, Shelby Carpenter. No matter what Waldo said, Laura wouldn’t listen to him. In fact she decided to marry him.

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Noooooooooo!!!!!!!

Yep he was angry. Extremely upset about losing Laura to someone he thought was so unworthy? Angry enough to kill?

Sound suspicious

Hmm…

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2) Shelby Carpenter

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Shelby (played by Vincent Price) comes from great stock, has expensive tastes, and loves the high life. Only one problem, he has no money. None at all. Instead he has to use to his charms to court rich, older women and have them pay for his expenses. In fact he had found a real great giver in Ann Treadwell (Judith Anderson). That is until he met the very charismatic Laura. Not only is she the perfect cash cow to support him, but young and beautiful. Who could ask for anything more?

Shelby Carpenter: I knew there was something on my mind. Ah yes, will you dine with me tomorrow night?

Laura Hunt: Yes.

Shelby Carpenter: No, it’s not that – it’s the next night. And what about three weeks from tonight? And all the nights in between?

Laura Hunt: Shelby, you talk as if I had no other engagements!

Shelby Carpenter: And two months from now? And the month after that?

Laura Hunt: What about next year?

Shelby Carpenter: Oh, that’s all settled. What about breakfast?

Laura Hunt: What about dancing?

Shelby Carpenter: What about lunch? Beautiful lunches, day after day after day?”

The two starting dating and she gave him a job, one of which he didn’t have to do too much work. The two become engaged and all is well.

Sound suspicious

Or is it?

It turns out that Laura wasn’t the only person Shelby was seeing. He was going around with a lot of poor models. Rumor has it that Laura found out and was not happy…could he have killed her? If she was about to leave him high and dry, he might have become incensed and murdered her?

Laura Interviewing Shelby

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3) Ann Treadwell

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Ann Treadwell is the rich older aunt of Laura. She and Shelby had been in a relationship for a long time. She knew what he was, but that was what she wanted.

Laura what I want

When he left her for Laura, she was furious that her niece stole him away. Furious enough to kill?

Sound suspicious

Sound suspicious

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As Det. McPherson continues to delve into the clues and motives…he learns more and more about Laura. As he learns more and more he starts falling for Laura as well.

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One night Det. McPherson is at Laura’s apartment looking at her painting and trying to figure out the mystery, along with Laura. Why does she draw him to her?

When suddenly somebody comes crashing through.

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It’s Laura!!!

Laura Switch on you dames

But wait…

What!

But if that’s Laura? Who is…?

Who is the dead body?

They find out that the murdered girl is one of the models, Diane Redfern. The same model that Shelby was involved with.

Yep this leads Mark with another suspect…Laura

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4) Laura Hunt

Laura New Hat trying it on mirror

So we’ve heard how Laura rose from nothing to being the top girl. She was beautiful, smart, classy, etc. All women envined her and all men wanted her.

Laura Smart Intelligent woman Dopes

But then the guy she loves and is supposed to marry is running around with a model!!! Cheating on her!!!!

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She knew Diane was in love with Shelby, and she knew Shelby only cared about her money. She knew Shelby was taking models to her house and she could have gone after them and shot her for trying to mess with her man.

that girl is going after my man she is going to wish she was never born

Or she could be so angry at Shelby for cheating on him that she prepared a way to take care of him.

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Instead of killing him, she could have killed Diane to make it look like Shelby and make him pay!

Does it seem too far-fetched? Well she wasn’t at the cabin when the cops looked that weekend. Her response “I was talking a walk.” She didn’t see the newspapers and come back saying she was alive? Or hear it on the radio? Her response: I don’t get a newspaper and my radio is broken.” Did anyone see you there? “Nobody”.

Being questioned police Annex - Tierney, Gene (Laura)_03

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What does this mean? Who is the killer?

You’ll have to watch the film to find out.

Laura

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To start Horrorfest III from the beginning, go to Even a Man Pure of Heart

For to the previous post, go to Every Time I Bring a Girl Over, You Try to Eat Her!

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For more on Laura (1944), go to All I Know About Trilogies is That in the Third One, All Bets are Off

For more on Vincent Price, go to The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind

For more mysteries, go to Quite a Horror Story

For more films based on books, go to But the Book, It Will Never Close…

For more films based on a play, go to Some People Are Just Born Evil