Still She Wished for Company by Margaret Irwin is the best book I have read in quite a while. A historical, fantastical, unusual novel that gently carries you into the 1700s and grips you like a classic gothic ghost story.
I will admit that the first paragraph didn’t draw me in right away. The language was very lyrical and felt a little too flowery. I found it hard to get into after reading a lot of contemporary fiction. But as soon as I realised this was a 1920s book and therefore had that language, it gripped me. The absent-minded wordy tone is explained by the very nature of the often confused and day-dreaming main character. She would like to live in a different age and she keeps thinking it is almost there, at her reach.
That’s when the novel does a backflip and sends you into the life of a 1700s aristocrat, who is just 17 years old. She is bored and both scared and fascinated by the return of her mysterious elder brother as the new heir of the estate, the fortune and her future. That does not make much of a novel but the tone is amazing.
Everyone knows the cliches of the gothic novels around the Bronte sisters time. This book does it beautifully, and while the heroine has no idea what is going on, we can read all the occult hints sprinkled between the lines. This is not the usual ghost story at all, in fact it turns the ghost tales inside out. What if the ghost could look right back at you from their very own life? And while I would love to say more I do not want to spoil anyone’s fun.
I really enjoyed that novel and highly recommend it to anyone who likes classics, who loves to see the supernatural done differently, who loves gothic novels, who loves the occult, who loves to read those great country novels of the 1800s. It was fantastic.
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