Cover image for Belle Haven
Belle Haven
Fitzgerald, Juliet.
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Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Viking, 1990.
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Reviews 3

Booklist Review

When 19-year-old Dabney Beale is expelled from Marywell College and goes to live with her rich guardian, Aunt Charlotte, she finds something terribly foul afoot in the dark old ancestral mansion. Vain, much married, and heartless Aunt Charlotte, it seems, has a hideous secret, one involving the family's sinister lawyer, a beautiful but clumsy waiter, and Charlotte's dotty, alcoholic husband. Dabney's very life is at stake as she puzzles through the family's deceptions and falls into a "love trap" with the dashing young Dr. Bay Hamilton, the son of Charlotte's former spouse, a suicide. This spirited romance novel, unlike most in the genre, evinces intelligence and sparkles with witty dialogue. Full-bodied characters bring the 1920s setting vividly to life and carry the plot in surprising directions, making the novel hard to put down. Pseud~onymously written by a master storyteller. ~--Mary Banas

Publisher's Weekly Review

Drawing heavily on Rebecca and Jane Eyre, the pseudonymous Fitgerald puts sex at the evil center of this gothic romance set in early 20th-century Virginia. Dabney Beale, orphaned daughter of a disinherited Southern beauty and a penurious artist, is expelled from finishing school and must live with her beautiful but wicked Aunt Charlotte in the manse of the title. Dabney--whose assets are brains and gumption rather than looks--falls in love with Bay Hamilton, a young doctor whose father committed suicide after abandoning him and his mother to marry Charlotte. While uncovering the extent of her aunt's depravity and its effect on her childhood, Dabney confronts her own sexuality with Bay. Fitzgerald's one-dimensional characters are nevertheless appealing, especially Charlotte's alcoholic current husband, her lover/lawyer and her servants imported from seamy New York City neighborhoods. The plot, though predictable, proceeds briskly. There are no surprises in this insubstantial but effectively written tale, in which only the mystery of Charlotte's phenomenal allure is left unsolved. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Expelled from finishing school in 1921, gawky Dabney Beale reluctantly returns to her elegant but dissolute Aunt Charlotte's Virginia estate. Soon she meets handsome Dr. Hamilton, intent on retrieving his dead father's lost papers from her aunt. The novel offers all the trappings of a modern gothic (a manor house, great wealth, burgeoning romance, mysteries from the past to unravel), but the characters are too shallow to fully engage the reader's sympathy, and the author provides neither witty dialog nor details from an unusual profession or exotic locale to redeem the predictable tale. However, since relatively few new gothics are available these days, libraries may wish to consider to meet demand.-- Diane Fishman, Univ. of Maryland at Baltimore Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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