Funsies from the archives.
This was one of those "just when you think you've got it all figured out."
Malinda Rice's mother has just died and Malinda has brought her back to the ancestral home in New Hampshire to be buried. She has also come to confront her grandmother with a family secret.
The story is deftly crafted, with a cast of creepy characters who are never what they seem, and who keep changing -- but not really -- all the time. There's the domineering matriarch Mrs. Julia, in her Boldoni-esque finery. Aunt Fritzie with her caged birds and wild plants. Elden the gardener. Cousin Gerald with his cruel devotion and hidden talent. Doc Wayne and his own secrets. Aunt Nina and Miss Kate and the boy Chris. And of course it all works out in the end, but not the way any of them expects!
This was quick afternoon read, made easier by Whitney's smooth writing and (almost) flawless plotting. Written in the late 1960s, it reads almost like a historical now with the absence of technology. It's full of typical juicy threats and fears of scandal, impossible loves, and complicated jealousies.
I reserve my five-star reviews for the truly outstanding, and this one just missed four stars because of that (almost) plot hole. It's not really a spoiler, since the information comes out fairly quickly in the book, but I found the original relationship between Malinda and Dr. Wayne Martin a bit too precious given their age difference. I thought it could have been written a little more realistically for a four-year-old and a fourteen-year-old.
Other than that, fun and HEA and another Bingo square!