Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A haunting time machine of a novel.


By Thomas Tryon

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars



Those who are familiar with Thomas Tryon's first two more novels, The Other and Harvest Home might find Lady a little perplexing. Yet it may also be the now deceased author's best and most realized work. While Lady still has a Gothic setting, taking place in Tryon's mythical New England town Pequot Landing where the other two books take part, this novel is not remotely a horror story. It is part mystery and part coming-of-age story and a very good one at that. The author excels at creating an eerie and haunting environment while involving the reader into early 20th century life complete with its town secrets and slowly emerging scandals. Woody, the narrator, tells of his childhood beginning at the age of eight focusing on his close friendship with Adelaide Harleigh who is usually called Lady. The sometimes moody widow is friend and mentor to Woody but there are still many secrets about her that he questions; Such as what happened to her husband, why does she switch so quickly from elegant joviality to brooding solidarity, and who is that strange red-headed man who shows up now and then. The answer to these and other questions may seem somewhat lame to today's readers but in the period this novel takes places (1930s) it was quite shocking. For that matter, the younger readers may be surprised to know that this was a fairly shocking ending in 1974, the year Lady was first published. The times have changed.

But it is not the ending that stands out. Tyron has written a haunting time machine of a novel taking us back the the 30s with exquisite detail and a understanding of the slower snow-globe existence of a small town. Sensitive characters round-out this novel which is deserving of re-issue in e-book format by Open Road Media and equally deserving of new discovery by new readers.

 Method Acquired: Netgalley

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