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Das Zimmer des roten Traums. (1975)

von Victoria Holt

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4731241,279 (3.61)3
Lovely Ellen Kellaway was rescued from a bleak future by her newly discovered guardian, Jago Kellaway, Lord of the Far Island, off the wild coast of Cornwall. There, Ellen was drawn deeper and deeper into the secrets of a past as alive and threatening as the present. There Jago offered her the fabled Island Necklace worn by the mistresses of Kellaway Castle. But was it a promise of happiness -- or a dark symbol of death . . .?… (mehr)
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This was written in 1975.

This was a mantra of mine as I read this book. Generally, I’m unaffected by dated material, or maybe not unaffected, but aware that reading the old stuff means a likelihood of butting up against outdated social mores, prejudices and attitudes, and I try not to let it colour my enjoyment of the story.

I could not do this with Lord of Far Island. The romantic hero drove me plum crazy.

The book starts off slow, with Part 1 a very verbose retrospective of the MC, Ellen’s, life. It’s almost entirely telling, rather than showing. Part 2 gets a lot more interesting, as Ellen has been invited to Kellaway Island, a deliciously gothic island off the coast of Cornwall, complete with castle and all the gothic accessories. The Kellaway’s are her father’s side of the family and a complete unknown to her. There she meets the “Lord” of the island, Jago Kellaway, a many times removed cousin and the romantic hero.

Also, an utter prat.

I’ll get to the prat part later, because that’s where my inability to put aside the differences between when this was written and when I read it most strongly come into play. I also had a hard time with this romance because of the cousin thing – which I can usually shrug off, but it kept coming up, keeping it at the forefront. Even more creepy, in my estimation, was the fact that he kept referring to her as his ward. She’s 20 and he’s “not much more than 30”, so everybody’s well beyond the age of consent. But her father died and he named Jago her guardian until she turned 21, and he constantly introduced her as his ward, and reminded her he was her guardian and the whole thing just started to feel really creepy.

Did I mention Jago was a prat? Well, he was. I can’t explain it better than he can so here’s a few quotes:

“She’ll tell your fortune. I know you like having your fortune told. All women do.”

“That was a fortunate release, my darling. That’s how you’re going to see it.”
“You go too fast. I have not yet said I will marry you.
This is perverse of you because you know as well as I do that you are going to.”


It turns out I don’t like my fictional MC’s being bossed around any more than I like being bossed around myself.

I suspect if I’d read this when I was far younger I’d have enjoyed it more, but there’s been too much water under the bridge, so to speak, for me to find Jago to be anything but a prat. ( )
  murderbydeath | Jan 24, 2022 |
Ellen, orphaned, was raised by wealthy cousins. Nevertheless, she is haunted by a life long nightmare--urging her to uncover secrets of her long-lost family?
  BLTSbraille | Oct 14, 2021 |
(drafted August 2020)

“Lord of the Far Island” is Victorian England—not uncommon, right. I’ll start by taking the good and bad in this setting as embodied in Cousin Agatha.

She financially took care of her second cousin once removed. I don’t even know who people like that in my life would be. That is, after Ellen’s mother and grandmother died, (the father came from “some outlandish place” and they couldn’t reach him), the grandmother asked her—if I’ve got this right—“Cousin Agatha was in fact my mother’s second cousin”, so her grandmother asked her first cousin once removed to pay for the education of a child, and she did. A first cousin once removed would be like an uncle’s cousin; I don’t know who that would be, for me. My basic relationship with a cousin, full stop, is essentially that we don’t make fun of each other at Christmas, right.

The bad is mostly what people know about, essentially an exaggerated version of the bad that people know from their own close family relationships. For example, when Cousin Agatha finishes speaking a sentence or two to Ellen directly to Ellen about Ellen’s life, and she has something to add about her own life, Cousin Agatha interprets this response as an “interruption”. Examples could be multiplied; although some social work really was done it was shot through with hypocrisy much of the time and much of it must have been rather ineffective. “.... in the room she called her study, where her social secretary wrote her letters and did most of the committee work for which she took the credit.”

That’s the good vs. bad; this being human society, there’s also the Two Kinds of Bad, here the rude rich boy and the naive girl. The rude rich boy is a kid from some rich old Anglo-Norman family; the naive girl is the ‘daughter of the house’ but has the heart of a servant, but is not wise. (The main character is a climber, and what would a novel be without a climber.) So we have the rude rich boy, simple enough: my ancestors murdered your ancestors, and that’s why I’m better than you. Wow, so you really want to be a son of hell, right. Ok, it’s up to you.

This is problematic for me, because my spiritual fantasy, (possibly a little selfish, spiritually speaking), is to be some kind of a servant—especially now during coronavirus, when it seems like I can’t do anything for anyone, really. But a servant without a good master isn’t much, really, and to be a lemming cowed or awed by a son of hell, like the naive girl—“Mama would be cross if she knew you quarreled with Philip. You forget he’s a Carrington (=monied family)”—is a bit like offering a phony bill of goods, as far as being a servant is concerned. As for the climber, she can be brave but it takes her a long time to find out that there has to be some limit to cruelty/acquisitiveness, if she gets there, which is up in the air, for me. Possibly, possibly not. Maybe there is no Learning At The End, maybe she’s just aggressive with subordinates and needy with superiors.... She learns about *her father’s* cruelty. Hmm. Your father. But that’s as close as it gets.

But Victoria Holt is okay; she’s a popularizer of Brontë—skilled at least in plotting and setting.

I’ll say this, though, about the climber: ambition wasn’t so much my temptation, but laziness, and occasionally Ellen could be avoidant when it suited her as well as climbing when she felt like it—but my point is that I know that even after you resolve to be dutiful, how hard it is, and how governed by moral terror, and how unlikely for a person in a novel to do the unpleasant willingly, because how few do so, and of the people who read novels, how few would read of it.

Anyway, I’ve chosen to make a treatment mostly of what you could call the initial novel, about the big pond London society, although the novel proper (not that they don’t link up at the end, not entirely according to my taste) is about the subsequent adventure among the rather dialectal Cornishmen.... Although I don’t want to make it seem like *all* of the pre-industrialisms are bad; ‘It is said that as long as there are brown pigeons in the castle there will be Kellaways on the Island’—and a so-called half-baked boy to serve said pigeons.... The mysterious orphan also makes it seem *somewhat* less like Vacation Island Lies.... You like people more when you learn what their lives are *really* like.

Maybe if the Cornishmen weren’t so perfect I’d trust them better; as it is, I don’t like them much. So perfect! (The Lord of the Far Island!) They have romantic rural festivals, after all, which makes them the perfect place for a vacation! But Jago seems a little too ‘interested’ to be a proper guardian, so there’s your perfect, right.

I actually think that taking such an interest in the initial novel partially ruined the book for me, as you’re supposed to get tired of the classical London Victorians and welcome in the rural aristocrats.... I’m not indifferent to the religion of the margins, which is interesting, but on the other hand I’m not sure that the classically pagan folk faith *is* better for people on the margins, and “realistic” Dickens-y people (and artists, who often need both a little city and a little country, and a couple of girlfriends too, even if they only paint seagulls), aren’t less romantic, if that’s even a good thing.

But interestingly, the orphan’s story and the Climax Plot play a similar role in the Island story as most of the London part of the book—it’s a little return to the dark.

One other supporting theme: psychological science in the districts before 1900 or whenever is essentially conspicuous by its absence. If someone habitually gave trouble, or wasn’t liked, it was ‘their nature to do so’ and that was on them. Psychology offers us a different attitude now, and different answers, although I personally hate to discuss it because I hate to get into who is and is not a victim. Maybe it’s equally easy to make excuses, as to do the other thing, but back then there was usually simply very little patience for anybody who needed anything.

Anyway, I would not call this a book of lies, although it is flawed.... Victoria Holt has a good hand for characters, but I think her greatest gift is for places. Not that that’s bad, necessarily. There’s certainly a lot of mystery and conflict, and although there is a second helping of sugar I don’t think it’s all lies. But despite the longish size and slow pace, there’s not *quite* enough dailiness to it to get you to the place where it stops being Vacation Island and becomes simply, *the place where you live*.

I still think I liked the short tragic initial novel better than the whole piece. The dreams and the gothic theme, which I like in principle, doesn’t add a whole lot to this particular book. Yeah, I’m starting to acquire a taste for tragedy and horror, and Holt, although she likes the skirt the edges of horror, doesn’t seem to see much point in having her characters suffer when they make mistakes, even though that’s pretty untrue. After flirting with the Rich Carringtons and losing, she discovers that she’s a Rich Kellaway anyway. Now, Discovered Nobility works well in too many good books for me to say that it’s always a scam. Indeed, business people today say that although it does almost always take effort and time to get rich, it often takes very little time to transform you from someone laboring and getting little for it and suddenly having a sizable Reward. But the danger with the Discovered Nobility plot plays out here, where I don’t think it works that well. Here, you have some girl who alternates between flighty cruelty and selfish avoidant behavior—with a father she never knew who was the classic Victorian cruel gentleman, and a selfish Cousin Agatha— and then she wakes up one fine day with a golden doubloon under her pillow, straight from the Spanish West Indies.... and she never even had to face down her demons! Did she bake someone a cake? How’d she come by it?

Here I’m not attempting to be popular, but sometimes suffering is the mercy that lets you learn. Another quarter cup of sugar or two and you might go on to a death-like oblivion and never know why!

I’m not saying that it’s a terrible book because you have all this detail, gentle progression and reflection, mystery and conflict, and the sociology of setting; there are some good things. But there are also things that certainly keep it from being outstanding instead of just serviceable.
  goosecap | Sep 2, 2020 |
I suppose it’s the horror side of romance.
  smallself | Feb 7, 2019 |
The plot works well and many scenes are vividly portrayed. Although certain outcomes were predictable, owing to the author “recycling” storylines from several of her previous works, certain revelations did surprise me.

The characters are all well-drawn, especially the heroine of the piece.

As usual with Ms Holt much of this novel revolves around a long suspenseful build-up to a climax that's over too soon. I often feel that this author doesn't squeeze the full potential out of dramatic/exciting/frightening scenarios. She's great at building suspense, creating mystery, but tends to resolve her heroine's most trying moments too quickly and too easily. She's certainly done so with this book’s finale.

Overall, a good read, though the ending had great potential to have been much better. ( )
  PhilSyphe | May 26, 2016 |
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» Andere Autoren hinzufügen

AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
Holt, VictoriaHauptautoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
Adlerberth, RolandÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Aue, IreneÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Dissing, HanneÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Donato Prunera, EstherÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Donato, EstherÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Johansson, GustafÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Leent-Sieburgh, E.A. vanÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Moberg, OlleÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Utrio, MeriÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Wiklund, StigÜbersetzerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt

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Lovely Ellen Kellaway was rescued from a bleak future by her newly discovered guardian, Jago Kellaway, Lord of the Far Island, off the wild coast of Cornwall. There, Ellen was drawn deeper and deeper into the secrets of a past as alive and threatening as the present. There Jago offered her the fabled Island Necklace worn by the mistresses of Kellaway Castle. But was it a promise of happiness -- or a dark symbol of death . . .?

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