Harcourt, 2007 (2007)
Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto
ila Feil has written a captivating gothic novel for teenagers with
. By using an au pair in place of a governess, and having the lady of the house sequestered in her office on the computer, Feil has successfully brought this century-old drama to the 21st century.
ulia is a romantic at heart (but she'll never admit it), so she is thrilled to be spending her summer as an au pair to nine-year-old Molly in an old house in Cape Cod, a job and area she sees as ripe with mystery and possible romance. At first, Molly shuts Julia out, but then she opens up as they journey to cemeteries and long-lost towns that feature in tales passed to Molly from her deceased mother Maria. Molly, however, begins to clam up again when her stepmother starts updating the old house. Also feeling disheartened, Julia takes up with an older man, a painter who agrees to use her as a model. While the painter has no intentions towards Julia, she is so caught up in her daydreams that she fails to see just how much Molly is missing Maria until it is almost too late.
eil does a phenomenal job of capturing that heavy, misty mood that permeates gothic novels. Julia has all the characteristics of a gothic heroine, but the modern attitude needed to reach a contemporary audience. The only thing that
truly needed was to be longer so the story could run deeper. As gothic is an older genre, I am not sure how many teenagers are fans, but those that are should definitely pick up Hila Feil's
. It is the perfect read for a dark and stormy night (or for a nice sunny day when you wish it were dark and stormy).
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