An Insane Doctor, A Hysterical Herbalist, and Murder in a Magician’s Mansion + A Possible Persuasion Reference?

Ready for any case

So this year’s theme is “mysteries” in honor of Agatha Christie’s novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles turning 100 years old. To really have this theme be present I decided to review a mystery every month…somehow and ideally connecting it to Jane Austen.

Mystery, you say?

In January, I wasn’t sure what to do when I received a goblin in my mailbox.

It turned out to be a a mysterious package from The Mysterious Package Company

Ah, mysterious

So the last package seemed to be saying that there is something wrong with 27 East Heath Road

Haunted house!

The architect, Henry Griggs, had been going crazy trying to finish building the house, after his wife died-using all his money. He even felt as if something was there making him continue, something altering his plans, something controlling him.

The house was almost complete, but Griggs has descended into some kind of madness.

“The madness in the walls must not escape…I fear I shall be gone altogether…I fear harm may come to her [Lizzy]  if she is not sent to safety.”

He ends up putting his daughter in an orphanage and Griggs disappears, presumed dead.

Or is it?!

This package contained a lot of items and goes on a bit:

  • 1 Deed
  • 1 Letter from Dr. Jack S. Aigner
  • 4 Small Memorandum/ Doctor’s notes from Dr. William Elliot
  • Arsenic Druggist Note
  • A Page from Baldwin’s Physician’s Guide
  • 1 Large Memorandum/ Doctor’s notes from Dr. William Elliot
  • Dr. Elliott’s Tincture Receipt
  • 1 Poster for The Great Goodyear
  • 1 Great Goodyear flip book that showcases two of his illusions
  • Garden Diary of Héléne Ashworth
  • Elise Face Cosmetiques Label
  • Newspaper Clipping
  • A page from Charles Dickens’ The Chimes

So first of all, I saw Dr. Walter Elliott on the letters:

And as a Jane Austen fan my mind went:

This is 1888, I am going to believe this is Mr. Elliot’s great or great-great grandson, named after Sir Walter. I mean I don’t know if he married Mrs. Clay, but I do know that eventually he would have to secure his family line and inheritance.

So Dr. Walter Elliot, descendent of Mr. Elliot, has purchased 27 East Heath Road and everything inside the building for £420 sterling. I think he will regret this…

So Dr. Elliot has a conservatory and grows herbs but according to his former instructor Dr. Jack S. Aigner, Dr. Elliot is sensitive, insecure of whether or not he is a good doctor, creates different tonics and medicines; AND medicates/tests himself. Uh, oh. Oh no, that does not sound good.

Dr. Aiger mentions the room he is using to treat patients and that it holds a mirror, but it is placed strange on the wrong wall. It should be behind the patient, not in front, but it will be good if he wants to try self-hypnosis. There is a young girl he is trying to help that is an interesting case. Hmm…could it be Elizabeth Griggs?

Then we have Dr. Elliot’s notes on the patient, although not all of them. He mysteriously chose to remove the notes in his patient from September 1889-October 1891, us picking it up in October 1891.

His patient is interesting…she wants to be in the room alone and when he stepped out as she said she heard footfalls in hallway, she moved the flowers in the office, why?

She likes the tincture he gave her, which pleases him as he is really getting the use out of his conservatory.

The next notes are from February 1889, and we are given that the name is on Beth Siggers 15 years old. The DOB is inked out, but we know it is 1874. Could this be Elizabeth Griggs? Just her name changed so the Doctor doesn’t connect it to the architect if the house?

Hmm…

Beth comes to see Dr. Elliot because she is suffering headaches and shortness of breath, but when she came in she would not sit, instead touching and knocking into everything-walls, tables, the mirror, etc. Searching…but for what? He thinks she faked the illness but why? He gives her some tincture and she leaves.

Weird…

March 1889

Beth continues to return to the Doctor’s office, but every time she has a different ailment. Obviously she is suffering from a mental issue rather than a physical ones, but what and why?

She returns another time and says she left her bag behind, but when he finds her he sees she isn’t in the reception area but on the main staircase as she got “turned around”. Strange behavior, the doctor prescribes tonic.

Hmmm…

April 1889

She seems much better, although she is fixated on the mirror. The doctor looked at it and thought he saw a face in it, but that is just nonsense. He gives her 1/2 bottle of tonic.

She returns later complaining the tonic is too strong, and Dr. Elliot watered it down and 1/2 the dose-1/4 tonic. It’s strange, he notices the hallway door is ajar. That keeps happening every time Beth comes to his office.

Spooky…

May 1889

Beth returns, upset and acting strange: pulse elevated and pupils dilated. Dr. Elliot thinks it is just “spring fever” and gives previous mixture and dosage.

Hmm…strange

June 1889

Beth has been by again and Dr. Eliot thinks he saw a figure in the mirror, again. He has always hated the way the mirror was fixed in the wall. He searches, but there is nothing there. Dr. Elliot begins to worry that maybe the tincture he took and tested on himself might be giving him hallucinations.

July 1889

Dr. Elliot has decided to no longer see Beth. He tells her and later that evening he discovers she has hid in the parlour…weird why? She begs him to let her come back and he agrees for one more time.

NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!! Something is wrong with this girl-you need to get way from her.

January 1892

Dr. Elliot feels watched and puzzles over the patient. Maybe he should stop seeing her, nothing seems to be changing.

YES!!! STOP SEEING HER SOMETHING ISN’T RIGHT!! But of course he won’t listen. He will continue and things are going to go wrong.

February 1892

Things are getting worse. After Beth comes poking on walls, knocking here and there, looking in corners, seeing things that aren’t there, Dr. Elliot too starts to feel as if there are spirits, ghosts, or something in the house. He tries to talk himself out of it but wonders.

He continues his experiments and taking the tincture. Oh no Dr. Elliot, don’t test on yourself!

In another set of letters from February 1892 to Jack, Dr. Elliot mentions a page with ciphers from Baldwin’s Physcian’s Guide. The page is included with these lines underlined:

“…what can be gained from inclusive speculation on the subject?”

“…physiognomy is mere judgement, assumption, and, in some cases, coincidence.”

On the back is an image that looks out of the Grimm texts and has some strange ciphers on it.

In his letter he has figured out what two of the symbols mean, an E & R.

Meanwhile, Griggs’ daughter, Beth, continues to see the doctor and every visit something odd happens. The flowers espechially always seem to be moved.

Beth keeps talking about something she sees under hypnosis so Dr. Elliot decides to test it and takes extra tincture.

Don’t Do it!!! Stop!!!! NOOOOOOOOO!!!!

There is a receipt for his tincture and on the back it says:

“You’ve got the right bottle, doctor.” With a bunch of symbols.

DON’T DO IT!!!!!

Dr. Elliot gets some cramps but about 30 mins in, he sees a figure in the mirror, or looking to come out of the mirror…

He leans toward the mirror and the figure was gone. He searched the house for it and found the dispensary unlocked, even though he always locks it.

He decides to increase the dose and do it again, adding to his letter later-he does and it says:

“I see it! It comes…”

And that is the end of Dr. Elliot. I’m assuming he died. Poor guy, you shouldn’t have tested on yourself-you shouldn’t have delved into the unknown, espechially on your own.

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

There is no more correspondence, we then switch to the second half of the package.

Time to get on the case!

The next item in the package is the garden diary of Héléne Ashworth.

June 1892

The house has been sold to the Great Goodyear, Claude Goodyear, and his muse, assistant, and wife Héléne Ashworth. The name sounds familiar, but I’m not sure why.

Where have I read or seen that name before?

Their friend, Lilibeth, let them know about 27 East Heath Road becoming available after the doctor died. It seems he accidentally took too much of his medicine, although some whisper it was a suicide.

Claude loves the room with the mirror in it, as it can help him to practice his tricks and Héléne loves having the conservatory as she is a gardener. She has taken inventory about the plants and discovered hemlock. Hemlock? Why would a doctor need that?

Strange…

Claude jokes about ghosts in the walls as the house does make noise, but Héléne is not afraid. She loves her new house.

Ghosts?

July 1893

Héléne’s garden is doing well except for the calla lilies and forget-me-nots she planted. Instead the hyacinth, lavender, and dragonwort are doing extremely well-even though she did not plant them. There is no way Claude did so where did they come from?

At 27 East Heath Road.

Héléne believes in the language of flowers and these ones that mysteriously appeared mean constancy, devotion, and twice twisted. Hmm…maybe it means something twice twisted in the house? Devoted to it?

Hmm…

Let’s see-hemlock was poisonous, are these too? Let me look…yes, hyacinth bulbs are poisonous and touching them causes skin irritation. So lavender is used in food and perfumes so it is okay to take, but it can cause constipation, headache, and skin irritation in some people. Dragonwort is used to stop bleeding. So again, doesn’t seem too bad.

Hmmm…

There are a lot of strange herbs Héléne doesn’t know growing as well. She also discovers two more letters of the cipher-M & Y.

Another entry:

Claude is doing extremely well and even gets to perform at the famous Egyptian Hall. Héléne is so excited to perform, but Claude wants her to quit now that they are married. Hmmm…

Meanwhile, Héléne feels watched in the house. She wants to mention it to her husband, but decides not to worry him before a big show. On a sad note all the Calla lilies died, just like their hopes for a baby.

May 1895

Héléne is no longer allowed to perform, Claude thinking that is what caused them to have a miscarriage. Try as she might the yellow hyacinth (jealousy) keeps growing, and Héléne is convinced there is a curse on this house-a curse keeping a cild from being born, her nice and kind flowers from growing, and the hyacinth strong.

Later entry:

Héléne finds more and more deadly plants-nightshade and monkshood. She also sees the gruesome figure from her nightmares. She tries to tell her husband but he doesn’t listen, saying the illusions have turned her head.

June 1895

Claude has refused two engagements and is very upset. He is convinced spies are coming into the halls and watching/copying his ideas. He continues to practice in the room with the mirror and won’t let anyone into it, not even Héléne.

Héléne is very hurt and upset as she and Claude grow farther and farther apart. Sometimes Héléne pus on the old costumes and performs in front of the plants-wishing she could still be on the stage.

Lilibet has grown worried about Héléne and has taken up spiritualism and becoming a very famous medium. Lilibet and Héléne have known each other since girlhood and Héléne decides to throw a get together and help Lilibet. I’m starting to think Lilibet is Elizabeth “Beth” Griggs. Maybe Héléne was in the orphanage? I’ll check. The records say she is, ah “…the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life” (A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) is Elizabeth Griggs.

And it is “…our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.” (A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

Mystery, you say?

September 1895

Liliibet otherwise known as Mrs. Alizbeta Divak has asked Hélene to join in. Helene has created the character Madame Solandra, wears black bombazine, and pale makeup that comes from the Elise makeup company. There is a label from Elise Cosmetiques and it has a message on the back:

“YOU THINK TO HIDE YOURSELF FROM ME?”

Followed by the ciphers.

Claude does not approve of spiritualism, Helene has to hide it from him.

November 1896

They held the seance but things did not go as planned, A real spirit came from the mirror shouting at them “interlopers! Be gone!”

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

When Héléne did the automatic writing it was if someone else was controlling her. Helene faints and when she awakens, it is Lilibet giving her smelling salts.

Oh no, the smelling salts were poisoned with the Doctor’s medicine.

Nooo

Lilibet preetends it didn’t happen, but Héléne knows it was real. She however feels very sick.

December 1896

Helene is still sick and supposed to be in bed, but has found a strange hidden doorway and secret hidden rooms in the house  But is it real? She is fading in and out and unsure.

But no! She found it! She has found a secret door in the conservatory, as soon as she is stronger she will investigate it!

Time to get on the case!

January 1897

Helene’s passage is a strange one. She believes the phantom is walking the house and Claude has all but disappeared. Is there a spirit in her home? A man? Or is her husband gaslighting her?

Gaslight (1944)

And all her flowers were ripped up? Why would the phantom want to do that?Why put dirt on her hands after?

Claude is yelling and locking Helene in her room refusing Lilibet to come in. But she has found a way out. She will follow the wallpaper and escape that way…

That is the last entry in the journal.

This felt a lot like The Yellow Wallpaper, the short story where the lady goes mad and her husband locks her up (or did her husband lock her up and then she went mad?)

Hmmm…is there a phantom or just an evil husband?

Gaslight (1944)

Next we have a newspaper clipping “Murder at the Mad Magician’s Mansion”. 

The wife of The Great Goodyear, Claude Goodyear, has been found dead in her home, found by her husband when he returned from performing.

Héléne’s face was frozen in terror and the inquest found that she had been poisoned-even though she was alone in the house and it was locked up tight. But by who? And how?

Of course authorities looked at the husband first, but it was impossible for him to slip away as he was performing and his every moment had witnesses.

Hmmm…

Her body was strangely found, it looked as if she was trying to crawl out of a small under-stairs cupboard with her face frozen, and hair turned white.

It appears Claude has lost his mind at his wife’s death. He warns people of a gruesome phantom moving in his house, warning people to stay far away.

After two incidents, one of him claiming a police constable to be a monster, he was relocated to the Broadmoor Asylum for the Criminally Insane.

Aw, that’s sad.

And last a page ripped out of Charles Dicken’s The Chimes with the following words underlined:

“Monsters uncouth and wild, arise in premature, imperfect resurrection; the several parts and shapes of different things are joined and mixed by chance..”

“Haunt and hunt him…”

“Bleak his slumbers…”

“he saw this WITH Goblin sight…”

“…saw these creatures, not only among sleeping men but waking also…”

There are more marks of the secret language written in the margin.

Hmmm…

I have been working on decoding it, and I think I’ve figures out a few letters based on what they gave me and just common sense of filling in the blanks, but there are some I am just not sure of.

Hmm…

So I am getting a Phantom of the Opera vibe from this (I love The Phantom of the Opera)

So in the original story of The Phantom of the Opera, one of Erik’s (the phantom’s) many talents was architecture and he builds the opera house-creating his secret home and all the passages, using the mirror as a door to bring Christine to his lair.

I think Henry Griggs is alive! And living in the house he built, probably a secret passage in the mirror. I’m just not sure if he is killing people because he us possessed by something or because he thinks if he does he will have his house back. I’ll have to wait and see.

Hmmm…

A lot of stuff came in this package and I did my best to try and put it all in one picture:

For more from The Mysterious Package Company, go to A Goblin in My Mailbox

For more insane doctors, go to Mr. Hyde Versus the Werewolf: Dr. Jekyll Versus the Werewolf (1972)

For more Persuasion, go to The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

For more mysteries, go to I Won the Cederberg Tea Giveaway + Book Club Picks: The Insanity of God

For more ghosts, go to North by Northanger (Or, the Shades of Pemberley)

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

It Feels So Good to See the Bad Guys Scared for a Change: Hangman’s Curse (2003)

It feels so good to see the bad guys scared for a change.

So you might have remembered me talking in the past about how much I love Frank Peretti’s books. Peretti wrote Christian novels, ranging from suspense, to horror, to everyday fiction; but most have to do with angels battling demons.

This film is an adaption of one of his books, Hangman’s Curse, so yes it is a Christian film. I know not all of you might be interested in it, but let me say I have shown this film to Christian and non-Christian friends and both liked it. It’s pretty good.

So the movie isn’t exactly like the book, they cut a bunch out-but they kept it pretty similar.

I like this

So the film starts off with young high schooler Abel Frye committing suicide. He had been tormented so much he felt it was the only way to stop the pain. This scene is a little intense and I don’t recommend it to anyone who may be triggered by that.

Ouch

Supposedly, he killed himself in the old wing of the school and his ghost haunts the halls helping those who are also bullied.

Fast forward to present time, and we see the high school football game. One high schooler has a freak out and sees the ghost of Abel Frye and goes crazy-ending up in a coma.

This wasn’t the only one who has been affected. There have been several football players who have had the same problem. It is time to call in The Veritas Project.

The Veritas Project consists of a family of four-David, Sarah, and their twin teenagers-Elisha & Elijah Springfield. They have all been heavily trained  by police, FBI, etc and sent in to deal with drugs, supernatural or unexplained events.

The principle decides to call the family in. David will be the janitor, Sarah the nurse, Elisha will go into the popular/jocky crowd and Elijah with the nerds/outcasts.

As they start checking out who could be responsible they discover that there are a group of outcasts/goths who have a secret club that practices witchcraft and the occult in order to get Abel Frye to attack those that are bullying them.

As Elisha and Elijah get closer to figure out if the truth is supernatural or physical; one of them gets “cursed” by the spirit of Abel Frye and ends up on the hit list. Will they solve it in time, or will they meet the fate of all the others?

Hmm…

I love this movie and thought it was extremely well done. You should definitely give it a look, especially as the ending is great and something I cannot reveal.

To start Horrorfest VI from the beginning, go to One of Our Guests is a Werewolf, I Know It.: The Beast Must Die (1974)

For the previous post, go to Jason’s Out There… Watching… Ready to Kill… Thirsty for Young Blood: Friday the 13th, Part II (1981)

For more on Hangman’s Curse and The Veritas Project, go to A Whole Lot of Fanfare

For more Frank Peretti, go to He is Coming: The Visitation (2006)

For more films based on a book, go to It was a Horseman, a Dead One. Headless: Sleepy Hollow (1999)

For more ghosts, go to Night on Bald Mountain: Fantasia (1940)

For more on witches, go to For All You Know, A Witch Might Be Living Next Door to You: The Witches (1990)

For more on going undercover, go to The Butcher of Burtonsville High: The Death of the Queen Bee, Bones (2010)

 

Why Didn’t You Stop Me, Sam? You Know How Much I Hated Her! Why Didn’t You Stop Me?: The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)

Why didn’t you stop me, Sam? You know how much I hated her! Why didn’t you stop me?

So I love Kirk Douglas:

How can you not like this face

In fact I even wrote him a fan letter once, but have yet to hear back from him.

Oh, well

Anyways, I picked up a great book not too long ago about his life, The Films of Kirk Douglas [although it ends with The Indian Fighter (1955)]. I found the book to be interesting, well written, and hard to put down.

So the first film that Kirk Douglas was in is called The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. It sounded so interesting-film noir about a woman who destroys one man after another in her pursuit of money, power, and love.

So when I spotted it on Amazon Instant Watch, I knew I needed to watch it immediately.

However, as I started watching the film it turned out that was sadly mistaken. This film was nothing like what I thought it would be like.

I know, right?

So the film starts out with young Martha Ivers, niece to Mrs. Ivers (Judith Anderson) the richest woman in the town. Her aunt controls everything and everybody, except for one-Sam Masterson. The two were trying to run away together, just to be free, but are found out and Martha is sent back with her aunt.

Martha Ivers as a girl: You don’t own the whole world.

Mrs. Ivers: Enough to make sure you’re always brought back to me.

Mr. O’Neil, her tutor discovered where she was hiding. Mr. O’Neil is a super brownnoser, trying to get Mrs. Ivers to help his son Walter become more by blessing him with a good education. Mrs. Ivers thanks him for his help, but in no way does she care about him or his needs.

Meanwhile, upstairs Martha and Walter are talking when Sam arrives to take her with him. Everything is going well until Mrs. Ivers senses something is up, as Martha has been far too quiet, and heads upstairs. Sam sees Mrs. Ivers and runs off, Mrs. Ivers trips on Martha’s cat (which Mrs. Ivers hates), Mrs. Ivers begins to hit the cat with her cane, and Martha becomes so angry that she takes the cane, beats her aunt, and Mrs. Ivers falls down the stairs dead.

Walter saw everything, so Martha takes him into her confidence and gets him to lie with her to his father, Mr. O’Neil. She says a man came in and attacked her aunt.

Mr. O’Neil looks at the body and Martha and figures everything out about what really must have happened. But he goes along with her, using this to tie the two kids in the closest bond imaginable.

Time passes and we pick up in the present with Sam Masterson (Van Heflin) who is driving along. Since he ran away Sam has been everywhere, with all kinds of women, and done  little of everything-although he gets his money from gambling. He is surprised to find himself back in his old area, so surprised that he crashes his car and has to stay in Iverstown until it is fixed.

He discovers that Walter O’Neil (Kirk Douglas) and Martha Ivers (Barbara Stanwyck) married and that Walter did get the fancy education, making him district attorney. Sam heads off looking around the changed town and meets a young, troubled, blonde, Toni Marachek

Hmm…

For me this is where the story seriously tanks.

Ugh.

Sam falls in love with Toni after just meeting her. It is really weird as he is this tough guy who takes whatever he wants from people, you know, and then this girl gives him like 3% of her life story and he is hooked. I thought the whole interaction was dumb and not necessary. It was also extremely boring.

Eventually after a lot of blah, blah, blah

Blah, blah

It turns out Toni is an ex-con and that since she didn’t take her bus home like she was supposed to, she broke probation and was sent back to prison. Sam is so upset that he lost his “love”

YOU JUST MET HER AND KNOW NOTHING ABOUT HER!!!!!

So he goes to Walter to try and get him to spring her. Walter has become an alcoholic, his life devastated at the fact that he helped send an innocent person to prison. When Sam comes in asking for things, Walter assumes that Sam witnessed the death of Mrs. Ivers and is trying to blackmail them.

Meanwhile, Martha runs into Sam and she likes what she sees more than ever. She never got over Sam, and even though Walter loves her with every part of his being, she can’t stand him. She constantly tries to come on to Sam and rekindle their childhood interest.

Meanwhile, a jealous Walter tries to take care of Sam-using Toni to set him up and sending guys after him to rough him up a bit.

Ouch

Sam survives and comes to take revenge on Walter. The two fight, with Walter trying to shoot Sam, but Sam wrestling it out of his hands.

Martha runs off to a private rendezvous with Martha and as they are talking it is revealed that Sam never saw anything.

Martha Ivers: Why didn’t you stop me, Sam? You know how much I hated her! Why didn’t you stop me?

Sam Masterson: I wasn’t there.

Martha Ivers: Why didn’t you stop…[realizes] You, weren’t there?

Sam Masterson: No, I left as soon as I saw your aunt enter the room.

Now armed with such knowledge, Sam makes a double play. One-he starts demanding more from Walter while two-making Martha care for him again.

What jerks

It all comes to a head when Walter and Sam fight, Walter falling down stairs, drunk, and discovered by Martha. Martha tries to convince Sam to kill her husband so they can be together.

Help me! I’m confused!

Sam refuses, and then Martha tries to get Walter to kill Sam. Sam doesn’t like where everything is going.

Eventually Sam leaves, and Walter and Martha are left together in their twisted web of deceit and division. Martha tries to say something to Walter, but he shoots her.

Wow

Afterwards he turns the gun on himself.

Sam and Toni take off into his car free forever.

I thought this was horrible. I was looking for mystery, plotting, intrigue, evil woman creating downfall everywhere she went, etc. Instead we got insta-romance and boring melodrama. I would just pass this film on by, not worth your time at all. And let me say, I cannot fathom how every girl was going ga-ga over Van Heflin. He’s not that attractive or particularly charming.

And yeah, again no banner for this film. I don’t know why I picked so many bannerless films this year. Oh, well.

To start Horrorfest VI from the beginning, go to One of Our Guests is a Werewolf, I Know It.: The Beast Must Die (1974)

For the previous post, go to I Don’t Kill People Anymore: Psycho II (1983)

For more film-noir, go to It’s A Hard World: Backfire (1950)

For more Kirk Douglas, go to Make My Day

For more with Judith Anderson, go to Murder is My Favorite Crime: Laura (1944)

I’m Okay With Waiting: Fateful, Awkward (2011)

Most Romantic Moment #13

AwkwardTVShow

So I mentioned a while back that I was a fan of this show (at least the first season. I don’t like the changes they made later on. I’m J² all the way, the J train is what it is all about.)

Twocharacterstogettogether

hearts banner

So brief recap on Awkward. The show is about nerd-girl Jenna Hamilton, who hopes this year will be different. Jenna has had a huge crush on her longtime neighbor Matty McKibbon (I don’t see the appeal).

Bruce-Almighty-Love-Me

She is surprised when at summer camp he wants to have sex with her. She thinks that maybe this could work out, that they could be a couple; but afterwards Matty ignores her.

Jerk

She gets home and gets this horrible letter stating everything wrong with her. She is reading it in the bathroom when she accidentally slips and falls. The big problem, her blow dryer fell in the tub, she spilled all her razors and aspirins, etc.

Everyone thinks she was trying to commit suicide, even though she keeps telling them she wasn’t. Now she has to go to counseling sessions all the time.

Not only that, but she constantly picked on by the most popular girl in school, Sadie, who is jealous of how pretty Jenna is. To further the drama of the year she has Matty who only uses her for sex:

Funny-how-you call when need something cable guy

Never wanting to be publicly be seen with her, never acknowledges her, and puts her down in front of everyone.

Then you have Jake. The two start of as friends, then Jake realizes he has feelings for her.

mr darcy

He breaks up with his girlfriend and tries to date her, never pressuring her for anything, not caring who knows he likes her, etc.

So Jenna finds herself trying to figure out what path to take next.

hearts banner

Most Romantic Moment: We Don’t Need to Have Sex, We Can Wait

So the moment I have chosen comes in the final episode in the season. Jenna has yelled at Matty for being a total tool.

jerk

Jake asked her and she agreed to go; them bringing along her friend Tamara and Ming. They go to prom and have a great time The two being silly, Jake holding her hand in public, and the two kissing.

awkward

Now the most romantic moment comes after prom. Jenna and Jake have gone back to Jenna’s house and she invites him in. Jake agrees, but let’s Jenna know that nothing has to happen. They can wait.

swoon dreamy

Not only is it incredibly sweet that Jake is willing to wait, making their relationship much more than just sex, but the fact that Jake is willing to wait; proving to Jenna that he isn’t another Matty or just going to “use and lose her”. And to top it off, she finally has a real relationship with a guy who isn’t afraid to be seen with her, who likes everything about her, and cares about her feelings.

perfection

What an incredibly sweet guy. J-Train all the way!

hearts banner

To start Romance is in the Air:Part IV from the beginning, go to I Can’t Pretend, I Have to Be: Casual Sex? (1988)

For the previous post, go to You Were Right, Let’s Get Married: Psycho (1960)

hearts banner

For more on Awkward, go to A Whole Lot of Fanfare

For more Relationship Rules, go to Just Like the Beginning