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The Shivering Sands by Victoria Holt

The Shivering Sands (1969)

by Victoria Holt

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4411033,762 (3.52)1 / 17



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Eleanor Hibbert was a remarkable writer who wrote over 200 books under numerous pen names. She wrote historical fiction under the name of Jean Plaidy. As Victoria Holt she wrote 32 gothic romances from the 1960s into the 1990s.

The Shivering Sand] is a gothic novel that takes place in the late 1800s. All of the gothic elements are there; a creepy mansion, a brooding but handsome son of the manor, mysteries deaths, and a young widow who has come to this strange family as a piano teacher. The plot twists and turns and although I had an idea who the killer was it wasn't obvious. One of Victoria Holt's earlier gothics, it was written in 1969, and has the gothic feel popular during that time. ( )
  clue | Oct 1, 2017 |
Wow I had no idea that that person would be the villain! ( )
  nu-bibliophile | Apr 5, 2017 |
I enjoyed the book. It kept me in suspense until the end. I kind of wish the ending was wriiten a little more in depth. ( )
  EmpressReece | Aug 22, 2016 |
??1/2 rounded down to ??

Caroline (Caro) Verlaine, a young widow, needs to find a way to earn a living teaching piano, but at the same time her sister, Roma, and archaeologist, has disappeared while working on a ruin elsewhere in England. Her former piano teacher retires from her last job and arranged for Caroline to take it over, and Caroline is happy to move because it’s in the same area that her sister disappeared. Once there, she is swept up in the antics of a dysfunctional family with a dark past; a brother accidentally shot, a mother who had committed suicide; her students including a half gypsy love child living in the home with Edith, the young wife of the mysterious Napier, and Alice, the daughter of the housekeeper; the mad sister, once thwarted in love, of the owner of the house who paints portraits of people the way she thinks they are; mysterious lights at night and so on. Caroline’s fourth student is Sylvia, the daughter of the vicar.

Victoria Holt was one of the authors who got gothic romantic suspense rolling, and this is one from 1969. I loved in when in high school, but it didn’t live up to my current reading likes. I neither liked nor disliked Caroline and felt that some of the other characters, such as Alice, were not particularly believable. I read this for a challenge because of the word shivering in the title.
( )
  Karin7 | Jan 20, 2016 |
I read this for the Crime Fiction of the Year (1969) Challenge, a meme housed at Past Offences.
In my younger days I read lots of Victoria Holt, and so I wanted to see whether for me this title weathered the test of time.

Perhaps unsurprisingly I found the plot developed much more slowly than it would in a more recently written novel. There are very heavy Gothic overtones right from the beginning: the black sheep of the family who accidentally murdered his elder, popular, handsome elder brother, banished to Australia but now summoned to return by his dying father to marry his father's ward; the mysterious disappearance of Caroline's sister from an archaeological dig; a building destroyed by fire where lights now show at night.

One of the aspects of the plot that has interested me is the actual time setting of the story. I have come across a reference to the vicar being appointed in 1888 so I am assuming it is all late 19th century. There are other factors that reinforce this: the curate goes off to Africa as a missionary, the main mode of transportation is horseback or trap, and there are no mentions of the dislocations that World War One will later cause.

So is this crime fiction? It is a question I constantly asked myself as I was reading. Certainly crimes have been committed - there is no doubt right from the beginning that Napier killed his brother Beau, accident or not, and these days that would have led to a homicide trial, rather than a retribution exacted by his father. And there are two other unexplained disappearances. But this is much more Gothic romance, closer to Daphne du Maurier and Georgette Heyer rather than Agatha Christie. The ending made me think of Edgar Allen Poe.

And here is an author that eventually led me on to crime fiction addiction. ( )
  smik | Nov 19, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Victoria Holtprimary authorall editionscalculated
Daurella, JoséTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Daurella, JosepTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tala, LauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Caroline Verlaine, the lovely young widow of a world-famous pianist, comes to the legend-haunted Stacy estate to investigate the disappearance of her sister, Roma. As Caroline falls under the spell of the Stacy family and its macabre past, she becomes aware that her sister must have discovered some deadly secret amid the nearby ruins -- a secret that cost Roma her life. A secret that now threatens Caroline...
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0006127606, Paperback)

fine paperback

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:37 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A young widow takes a job with an unusual family at their seaside estate hoping to find her sister who had disappeared in the same area of Kent.

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