Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Uncle Silas (83rd Book)

I decided to read a themed book for my 1001 Book this month. Since Saint Patrick's Day falls in March I chose to read a novel by an Irish author. I could have chosen James Joyce, of course, but as much as I love his novels (and I really do) they hurt my head. I took a look through the 1001 Novels to Read Before You Die book and stumbled upon Uncle Silas by Sheridan Le Fanu. I had never heard of this author before, but the novel peaked my interest with its description of mystery and investigation surrounding an old house and a young heiress. I was not disappointed.

The novel follows Maud Ruthyn who is orphaned at the age of 16 or 17. Upon her father's death, she is sent to her Uncle Silas, whose life has always been surrounded by mystery, until she turns of age. While her father is still alive she finds out that her uncle was once accused of murder and his name was never cleared of the charge. He has lived as a hermit ever since. Before her father's death he asked if she would help to clear her uncle's name even though it may be a trial for her. She heartily agreed and the way she was to clear his name was revealed in the will.

As much as  I love this novel there is one thing that confused me. It was never really made clear whether her father was aware that her Uncle had never changed. I am assuming since he sent his daughter to live with him that he did not. To me Uncle Silas always seemed a bit mysterious and the father's blind trust in his brother seems a bit contrived.

The rest of the plot had me riveted. I was desperate to know what the outcome of the novel would be and sped through the book at a quick pace. Although the book was written in the late 1800's it has all the classic mystery/ horror features we have grown to love over the years: a family with a secret, a run down house that has seen better days, a physically creepy relative shrouded in mystery and a helpless girl with no one to care for her. The novel reminded me of Rebecca which has several similar elements included a mysterious relative, a murder in the past, and a rambling old house. I liked both of these novels and I am a fan of the genre. This novel has been likened to the novels of Wilkie Collins and I am very excited to read The Women in White when it appears on the Novel 100 list as I thoroughly loved The Moonstone.

It has been a long time since I have been sad when a novel has ended, but I felt that way when I finished Uncle Silas. I am at loose ends to know what to start next before April arrives and I can start my novel 100 book for the month, Jane Eyre. In keeping with reading themed books off the 1001 Books list I may read one of the novels focused on the life of Jesus for Easter. I have found two on the list so far and will have to make a trip to the library to pick one up if I decided to do it.

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