Trencarrow Secret by Anita Davison
Genre: Gothic historical romance
Length: 12h 22m
Audio publisher: Iambik audio, 2011
Read by: Ruth Golding
Story: Isabel Hart is almost twenty-one and has lived a very sheltered life. She has debilitating fears of the lake and the maze at her family's country house. She is also afraid to acknowledge the many secrets her family keeps: her mother's illness, her father's way of coping, why her fiance wants to marry her, her sister's early life. As she begins overcoming her fears, Isabel starts to see her family as they really are, and the true secrets of Trencarrow are revealed.
Thoughts: Trencarrow Secret could be described as Gothic, but it doesn't take place in the traditional Gothic setting. Trencarrow is an open and airy mansion filled with the Harts' friends and relations all congregating for Isabel's twenty-first birthday. The Gothic moodiness is in Isabel's mind, where her fears cast a shadow over everything and everyone. Isabel is naive and acts young for her age, although this could be a realistic portrayal of a sheltered gentleman's daughter of the time: dutiful, docile, and a slave to propriety.
Romance is on the sidelines as Isabel thinks about what she wants from life and from marriage. As the story progresses, more and more people reveal their true selves to Isabel, and she tries to come to terms with the unwelcome changes around her. The book moves fairly slowly as each person's secret is revealed. Mystery is downplayed as the secrets are plain to everyone except Isabel, and she wants to keep them hidden.
I enjoyed this book more in hindsight than while listening to it. At the time I didn't quite know what to think. Some of the secrets were not secret at all while others were too well hidden. I wish the hidden ones had come out a little sooner so I could have enjoyed them more at the time.
Reading: Ruth Golding does a fabulous job. Her older-sounding voice lends a feel of nostalgia to the story, as if Isabel is thinking back to her time in Trencarrow. The voice for Isabel is childish and whining, fitting the character. Sometimes the younger female voices started to sound a little similar, especially Isabel and Laura, but I enjoyed her male voices immensely.
Final thoughts: Not quite a romance and not quite a mystery, Trencarrow Secret is more Gothic in hindsight than it appears at first glance.
Grade: 3.5 out of 5