Wednesday, the 30th of September, and time for Shelf Control once again! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, all you do is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, and such. If you participate, link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!

Today’s pick is a book by an author I’ve read before but in another avatar. Mistress of Mellyn, first published in 1960 is in fact the first gothic romance novel written by author Victoria Holt, who went on to publish over 30 books in this category. Victoria Holt happens to be one of many pen names used by Engish author Eleanor Alice Hibbert who also wrote historical fiction as Jean Plaidy (it is these books or rather some of these books that I have read before, and enjoyed) and family sagas as Philippa Carr, among others, writing nearly 200 novels in all. Mistress of Mellyn was an instant bestseller when first published and is also credited with having revived the genre of gothic romantic suspense.

Reading the description/synopsis of the story I was reminded a lot of Rebecca though I realised from Goodreads friends’ reviews (such as here and here) and the Wikipedia description (here) that this certainly has shades of Jane Eyre as well. (Also, like the two, it is narrated in first person by our ‘heroine’.) In the story, Martha Leigh, who does not wish to be a governess nevertheless has to become one for she is alone and penniless. She arrives at the family mansion of the TreMellyns–where else but above the cliffs of Cornwall! Her employer, Connan TreMellyn is a cold imposing man, while his daughter Alvean is wilful, spoilt but lonely. Soon enough she finds there is a mystery surrounding the death of the former mistress of Mellyn, and voices in the waves at night whispering, ‘Alice, Alice where are you…

This certainly sounds like a great deal of fun, and with an appropriate bit of mystery and creepiness for the autumn/Halloween season. Both setting and plot sound like something that I will enjoy, though I’m hoping there’s more mystery and scary elements than romance.

Have you read this one or any others by Victoria Holt? Which one/s and how did you like them? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations.

The cover image is from Goodreads; book description from Goodreads (here) and the blurb behind my copy, and wikipedia (linked above), author info from Wikipedia (here)

Lisa’s pick this week is an interesting story around Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown (here)

Find reviews of Mistress of Mellyn by wordpress bloggers Cynthia Sally Haggard (here) and Fleeting Butterflies (here)

I have since read and reviewed the book (here)


5 thoughts on “Shelf Control #108: Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt

    1. Sounds the same as me–this copy is in fact from my mother’s books (though there aren’t lots of Holts among these, there are a handful). I’d never read her, but since I do like her Jean Plaidy ones and the plot sounds fun, I decided to give it a try.


  1. When I worked in branch libraries, before training as a teacher, works by Jean Plaidy (and no doubt her other pseudonyms, though I don’t recall Holt from those times) flew off the shelves — I can still see those particular shelves labelled Romance, Mystery, Cowboy, Historical which stereotypical borrowers made a beeline for, and having to wash my hands frequently after shelving returns. But I should really give this multifaceted author and others (like Georgette Heyer) an unprejudiced chance!


    1. I can’t comment on works published under the other pseudonyms but Plaidy was not bad–these aren’t romances but historical fiction, the ones I’ve read so so are Tudor, one on Sir Thomas More and one Katherine Howard. As Holt, this one with its Rebecca/Jane Eyre kind of plot sounded like a good place to start.
      Heyer I’ve read and enjoyed her romances as well as mysteries. You might enjoy her mysteries–the ones I’ve read with Superintendent Hemingway had definite tone of humour that was very enjoyable. The other standalone Penhallow was more character study than mystery.

      Liked by 1 person

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