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The Two Mrs. Carlyles by Suzanne Rindell

The Two Mrs. Carlyles (original 2020; edition 2020)

by Suzanne Rindell (Author)

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346591,504 (3.5)1
Title:The Two Mrs. Carlyles
Authors:Suzanne Rindell (Author)
Info:G.P. Putnam's Sons (2020), 432 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Two Mrs. Carlyles by Suzanne Rindell (2020)


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The Two Mrs. Carlyles is a story set in San Francisco in the early 1900s. Violet and her two friends, Cora and Flossie, meet at an orphanage. When the orphanage burns to the ground, they need to find another place to live. The story follows the 3 girls as they grow and mature, until one of them meets a wealthy man and marries him. But, is the man truthful? Is he hiding something? Can the 3 friends stick together?
I think this book has traces of Rebecca by DuMaurier, and there is some suspense and darkness, but I felt the book could have easily been 100 pages shorter. If it had been shorter, I think it would have been more eerie and suspenseful.
Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC. ( )
  rmarcin | Jan 12, 2021 |
The Two Mrs. Carlyles by Suzanne Rindell is a 2020 G.P. Putnam’s Sons publication.

An entertaining ode to classic Gothic literature

After meeting at an orphanage, Violet, Flossie and Cora seize on a mysteriously opportune moment to run away. They find work at a ‘boarding house’, in the red -light district, where the two older girls work in a dance hall, while Violet, who is only fourteen, works in the kitchen. But it looks like Violet could soon be forced out of the kitchen, to become the next ‘dancing girl’ recruit.

But, as bizarre as it sounds, the girls are saved by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, where in the aftermath, they come away with a tidy sum of money that secures their independence. However, the circumstances dictate they go their separate ways.

Violet begins working as a shop girl, where she meets the wealthy and mysterious, Harry Carlyle- a widower with a few secrets of his own. When she is finally reunited with her old friends, they are stunned to learn she is in a relationship with Harry, whom she eventually marries.

On the surface, it would seem Violet leads a charmed life, but behind the mansion walls, Violet finds herself at odds with Miss Weber, the woman in charge of running the household, and locked into a strange competition with Harry’s first wife. When odd occurrences begin taking place, Violet begins to think the house is trying to force her out- a notion, Miss Weber encourages, while Harry refuses to discuss it.

The air is already thick with tension when the unimaginable happens and suddenly Violet finds herself unable to trust a single soul… nor can the reader- not even Violet!!

Anyone who loves the heavily dramatic atmosphere of old historical Gothic novels, but can also tolerate a large amount of genre bending, will appreciate the tone of this novel. This story is best classified in the encompassing category of historical fiction, but there’s a little romance, a lot of mystery and suspense, as well as a hint of the paranormal, while also heavily leaning on classic Gothic tropes.

It is a twisty story, and the author did a great job with the pacing and timing, and with creating a creepy, tense atmosphere. Unfortunately, it was almost overkill at times, especially as the tropes used here are quite familiar, and very recognizable, even to the most casual Gothic reader. One can’t avoid the comparisons to Du Maurier, but the author also borrows from the Bronte’s, among others. It is a little too transparent and overboard on that front, which caused the story to very nearly unravel a time or time in the second half of the book.

That said, as a huge fan of classic Gothics, historical fiction, and mysteries, I couldn’t help but enjoy this book!! I thought it captured the spirit of the time and place, plus it kept guessing and engaged, all wrapped up Violet’s saga, wondering how everything would eventually turn out.
Overall, despite an occasional warble, this is a solid Gothic mystery- a great read for this time of year!

3.5 stars ( )
  gpangel | Oct 6, 2020 |
Not her strongest, but enjoyable. She must have known how much she would remind us of Rebecca, the 2nd Mrs. de Winter and Mrs. Danvers, it walked the line of being REALLY annoying. In the end, Violet is less wimpy than the nameless wife in Rebecca and there are other differences that make it work, but the real culprit was an easy spot and I knew far ahead of the reveal. Still fun though in a want-to-smack-somebody kind of way. ( )
  Bookmarque | Sep 25, 2020 |
I wanted to love The Two Mrs. Carlyles by Suzanne Rindell. I loved her other novel, plus the combination of post-earthquake San Francisco and the potential haunting of a first wife was too much for me to ignore. Except by the end of the first act, I almost threw my e-book across the room.

The problem is that The Two Mrs. Carlyles has such strong Rebecca vibes, and no one should be attempting to pass off even the smallest hint of a Rebecca revision. That book may have its flaws, but it will remain among my all-time favorite novels. Also, no one will ever do Gothic mansions and second marriages as well as Daphne du Maurier. I rarely want to stop reading a book because it reminds me of another book, but I was SOCLOSE. No one messes with Ms. du Maurier.

Thankfully, by the time of the third act, the similarities ended. Unfortunately, that is when the problem of predictability kicks in, and I lost pretty much all interest. I only finished the book because I wanted to make sure I was correct in my assumptions and because I just could not finish a book at that late stage.

The Two Mrs. Carlyles is one giant disappointment. Not only did I get major Rebecca vibes, complete with a Mrs. Danvers wannabe, but there was also no haunting and so little about San Francisco after the earthquake. Everything I wanted for the book did not occur. Better luck next time. ( )
  jmchshannon | Aug 20, 2020 |
The Two Mrs. Carlyles by Suzanne Rindell is a twisty historical thriller, with a deeply unreliable narrator.

From childhood, Violet experiences odd spells and memory gaps, often finding herself in a strange place or holding something incriminating and confusing, with no idea what's happened. Fortunately, her best friends, Cora and Flossie, are usually on hand to help her out. The massive San Francisco earthquake leaves many devastated, but for Violet and her friends, the upheaval provides cover and escape from their lives at the dancing hall. Unsure of the details, though, Violet doesn't want to think too carefully about what may have happened that day.

After her years in the orphanage and then in the dancing hall, working at a counter in a hat shop is everything Violet could have imagined. When handsome, rich, eligible bachelor Harry Carlyle pursues Violet, it seems like all her problems are over. Especially if Violet just never mentions her strange, forgetful spells or certain parts of her earlier life...

But after the wedding, instead of an escape to a life of privilege, she is the nominal mistress of a creepy house that's still a shrine to the first Mrs Carlyle. There are connections to Rebecca (a theme and style I just loved in The Winters), in the Carlyle house with the terrifyingly devoted housekeeper. There's a really gothic creepiness here, with the gorgeous but chilling portrait of the first wife, ghostly night piano music, a husband who won't answer any questions, and the strange gaps in Violet's own memories.

As Violet tries to figure out who she can trust, I was unable to put this book down. I was just stunned by the twists, and the way there were little hints and misdirections throughout the story. At the end of the book, I was so sure of my theory about the first Mrs. Carlyle (Link contains spoilers), that I went back and reread parts of the book to confirm.
  TheFictionAddiction | Aug 12, 2020 |
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