Reading Diary: A Cry in the Night by Mary Higgins Clark
"Oh, Erich, you scared me," she said. "I didn't hear you come in."
His eyes never left her face. "I thought you'd want your gown, darling," he said. "Here it is."
He was holding an aquamarine satin nightgown with a deep V cut in the front and back.
"Erich, I have a new gown. Did you just buy this one for me?"
"No," Erich said. "It was [my mother's]. He ran his tongue nervously over his lips. He was smiling strangely. His eyes as they rested on her were moist with love. When he spoke again, his tone was pleading. "For my sake, Jenny, wear it tonight."
It has been yonks since I read a modern Gothic novel (or as we say in modern literary terminology, a Thriller), and A Cry in the Night was the perfect way to break my "fast." It definitely ticked all the Gothic boxes . . . Naive heroine who at one point runs around in a nightgown? Check. Brooding hero who might actually be the villain? Check. An exotic setting? Oh, wintry Minnesota is so exotic! A castle or large manor house with secret rooms? And then some! Supernatural agents? Well, more or less. At least one really nasty Catholic? I'm pleased to say that we apparently can't have everything. =P
Reading this also reminded me of the nineteenth-century attitude toward novels. You weren't really reading if you were just reading a novel. In fact, far from improving your mind, you were probably rotting it. And if you were a young woman with a Gothic novel, well, you were also contributing to the ruin of your character. A Cry in the Night may only be my first Mary Higgins Clark novel, but I already know that I won't get any credit for reading it. But who cares? I finished it in one night and wished I had a book club to discuss it with.
My big question for them would be: If you had been Jenny, at point would you have been certain that something was terribly wrong with your marriage?
I might have freaked as early as the nightgown on their wedding night.