Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Another Woman's House: Review

In Another Woman's House (1947) by Mignon G. Eberhart, our heroine, Myra, has decided that she must leave the house she has lived in for several years as well as her beloved guardian, Miss Cornelia. She has fallen in love with Richard Thorne, the owner of the house and Miss Cornelia's nephew, and that will never do. For Richard is married. It doesn't matter that Richard's wife isn't home any more--Alice Thorne was convicted of murder and sent to prison. Myra knows that Richard's code of ethics would never allow him to divorce his wife, no matter what she had done.

But when Myra announces her intentions to leave, she is surprised to discover that Richard returns her feelings and is willing to divorce Alice. Just when it looks like the story might have an early happy ending, Alice comes back home. It turns out that the key witness in the murder trial has recanted his testimony. He had claimed to have seen Alice Thorne murder Jack Manders. But that wasn't true. And without the testimony of an eye witness, the prosecution's case has no foundation. Alice has been pardoned by the Governor (who was the prosecuting attorney) and now the police will be looking for the real murderer. 

I'm afraid this one isn't quite my cup of tea. I much prefer Eberhart's stories with Nurse Sarah Keate. While Sarah does often find herself in the middle of mysteries with Gothic overtones and sinister atmosphere, it's not usually as brooding as this And the core mystery plot is usually handled much more adeptly. I found my attention wandering as Myra made her way through all the sinister forebodings in the house. And it was quite clear from the moment Alice came back who the murderer was. There was no mystery about it all. The suspense that was supposed to build while we waited to see if everyone in the book would figure out who the culprit was....well it just didn't. Build that is. I was pretty frustrated that it took another death before Myra figured it out and then it looked like the culprit was going to get away with it anyway. 

The saving feature of the book is in its characters. Eberhart is very good at providing well-rounded characters with believable motives and psychological flaws. Her characters may behave erratically, but no more so than people do in real life. And it is precisely because you can relate these people to real life that they work. The logic of murderer? I can understand it (I may not agree with it, but I can understand it). Myra's reactions to various situations? Very believable. I can definitely see a woman of principle at that time feeling like she needs to leave rather than pine for another woman's husband. And then, when she realizes he feels the same way, she is ready to fight for their love--even if she has to fight a murderer first.  

★★ and 1/2--which could have been a solid three if the mystery hadn't been so transparent.

[Finished on 2/10/18]

All Challenges Fulfilled: Vintage Mystery Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, Strictly Print Challenge, Cloak & Dagger, Birth Year Challenge, Book Challenge, Craving for Cozies, Cruisin' Thru the Cozies, Family Tree Challenge, Crimes of the Century, Mystery Reporter

1 comment:

J.G. said...

The set-up sounds rather dated, or maybe just Gothic in a wife-in-the-attic way. The cover is a wonderful period piece, though.

Congrats on your first candle!