Reader, Writer, Merciless Reviewer and Incurable Romantic
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I knew I wouldn't be able to stay up and read very long because I was really, really tired when I went to bed. I did, however, want to start this book.
There's no question that this is a gothic romance. The publisher put it right on the cover! It's compared to Du Maurier's classic Rebecca. The artwork is almost typical gothic, with the spooky house and single lighted window. The young woman, however, is in close-up portrait rather than full-length with windblown hair and gown.
And the author is male.
There are also quotes from a number of reviews published in real newspapers. Hmmmmmm. Gothic romances did not get reviewed in the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner in the 1960s.
I only read 12 pages, not quite the first whole chapter, before I just couldn't keep my eyes open any longer, but that was enough to confirm my suspicions that I had read this book before, decades ago. One small incident ticked my memory, something I would not have consciously remembered but that came back to me the instant I read it.
There were only two ways I could have read this book in the 1960s. It was either condensed by Reader's Digest, or it was a Doubleday Book Club selection. My parents subscribed to both for a number of years at that time. I read the condensed version of The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant by Douglas Wallop as well as his later novel, Ocean Front, though I don't know if that was book club or condensed. I do remember the cover, however, so maybe it was a book club edition. I also read two other book club offerings, The Daughter of the Pangaran and Summer Doctor. I remember details of both those books, and they were published about the same time as The Tulip Tree, so I'm more comfortable guessing I read a book club edition.
So in 1963, a gothic romance written by a man would be published in hardcover by Doubleday and be reviewed numerous newspapers, be selected for their subscription book club, and later be republished in paperback. No doubt Howard Rigsby earned a great deal more for his gothic romance novel than most of the women writing paperback gothics.