Dragonwyck
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Dragonwyck

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3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  2,338 ratings  ·  197 reviews
First published in 1944, Dragonwyck was a national bestseller that was made into a major motion picture starring Gene Tierney and Vincent Price in 1946. A classic gothic romance, the story features an 18-year-old Miranda Wells who falls under the spell of a mysterious old mansion and its equally fascinating master. Tired of churning butter, weeding the garden patch, and re...more
Paperback, 342 pages
Published September 28th 2005 by Chicago Review Press (first published January 1st 1944)
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Lolly's Library
This is not a Gothic romance novel. This is a handbook concerning A) a sociopathic* personality, how its psychosis manifests in actions, words, and thoughts, and how with the smallest trigger, it spirals down into further depths of depravity and horror, and B) the warning signs of an abusive relationship, wherein a husband/boyfriend/lover mocks the low intelligence of his partner, disparages any independent thought, isolates his partner from outside influences, including friends and family, befo...more
Tara
Jan 17, 2008 Tara rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like gothic literature with depth
Recommended to Tara by: Some book rack in Moore?
The first time I opened Dragonwyck was incidentally the first time I was exposed to Edgar Allan Poe. The novel opens with the poem "Alone," and Poe is one of the characters in this quintessential gothic tale. I first found this in a used book store when I was about 10 or 11, and every few years I am compelled to pick it up again, even though I know it through and through.

Dragonwyck is the story of Miranda Wells, a farm girl in upstate New York with dreams of a luxurious life she can never hope t...more
Leigh
I pulled this off my Southern grandama's shelf when I was in high school. It's a gothic romanc set in New York's Hudson River Valley. Miranda is the poor but beautiful girl who dreams of living in Dragonwyck. The creepy lord of the manor has a sickly wife and hires Miranda as his housegirl and, duh, falls for her. My memory is sketchy on the details but there is conflict and Miranda may or may not learn to be careful what she wishes for. In any event, I loved this book when I was 15. Whether it...more
Sophie
At first, Dragonwyck reminded me of Mansfield Park: the young girl summoned to live with her aristocratic relations--although in this case, it's American rather than English aristocracy--who trades poverty for their luxurious lifestyle. But that resemblance was shattered as soon as Nicholas Van Ryn appeared. He is no Sir Thomas, and certainly no Edmund Bertram. Nicholas is more like Maxim de Winter: glamorous, unapproachable, even unfathomable to Miranda. And when Miranda is introduced to Dragon...more
Barbara VA
How can it possibly be that I have NEVER read this book? I LOVED it! Many people told me that it was in the style of Rebecca and Jane Eyre, so it seemed a natural to me. I loved Katharine and Green Darkness many years ago but somehow this passed me by. I am a Hudson Valley girl and I have devoured gothic mysteries for years. I agree with many of the other posts that speak to the writing style and say that Miranda is not as well drawn a character as Jane Eyre and Nicholas is too evil but I pass o...more
Laura
Normally I'm annoyed when an author throws real people into a historical novel, but I thought Anya Seton did it rather well. I never felt like I was being beaten over the head with how familiar she was with the authors in the book (Poe, Melville, etc), or that Miranda was lost behind all the other characters. I actually enjoyed the book so much that I'll probably end up buying it to read again, even though I haven't re-read a book in about four years (something you can do when you have a great l...more
Susie
Read this because I liked the movie and it takes place where I live (shout-out to the historical aspects of Catskill and Hudson and everything down to NYC that made it into the story). I also tend to like stories about a sort of tortured love that can't really work set in Gothic manor houses. Go figure.

The movie follows the book very closely until about mid-way through. The movie puts more weight on the ghostly singing and playing from the Red Room and on the Dutch patroon chair. It also makes N...more
Jessica
Jul 08, 2008 Jessica rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those interested in psychological, romantic thrillers
This is a very odd book. It is interesting, and I couldn't put it down while reading it, but now that I have finished, I have no inclination to read it again, and indeed, feel slightly embarrassed that I read it at all. It feels so teenager-ish and melodramatic, plus the title makes it sound like some crazy science-fiction book.
It is a book in the same vein as Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca, though not quite as richly written. A young, simple, poor girl falls in love with a handsome, rich, mysterio...more
Moppet
This 1944 American Gothic novel is in the same category as Annemarie Selinko's Desiree for me: I'm glad I got round to reading it but I wish I'd got to it sooner, because I would have enjoyed it a lot more in my teens.

Dragonwyck follows in the tradition of Jane Eyre and Rebecca as far as plot and tone are concerned. Farm girl Miranda is catapulted into high society when her wealthy cousin Nicholas van Ryn employs her as a governess. Like Seton's later, historical heroine, Katherine Swynford, Mir...more
Wealhtheow
Miranda Wells is too dainty and flighty to fit in with her hard working, puritanical farming family. When a distant cousin invites her to act as companion to his young daughter, she leaps at the chance and soon arrives at the beautiful gothic mansion of Dragonwyck. It is ruled by the autocratic Nicholas Van Ryn, who is so handsome, powerful, cultured that Miranda falls for him immediately. Nicholas is haunted by his first wife, who cannot give him the son he craves, and by Miranda's beauty. (vie...more
Wendy
I thought this was on my "to-read" list, and now I don't see it there. So why did I have the author and title written down when I went to the library?

I thought it was some sort of fantasy. Dragons, right?

So imagine my confusion to find myself reading a 1944 gothic novel set in pre-Civil War upstate New York. But it was great fun. I kept thinking of Rebecca, although the plot was actually much more traditional than that. I also really liked the ways this was historical fiction as much as it was g...more
Rosemary
This was my first introduction to Anya Seton's brand of American historical novel. I found it fascinating, in the way that she took themes of Victorian British novels and translated them into a 19th century American setting.

Published in the 1940s and set one hundred years earlier, this is the story of Miranda Wells, the daughter of a New York State farmer who is taken up by a rich second cousin and taken to his gothic home (complete with ghost) where she innocently falls for the master despite...more
Kathy Schultz
For me this was a great read. I loved Seton's Katherine and The Winthrop Woman, two of my all-time favorites.

This is a great read for the gothic romance fan. Yes, the story was predictable. However, Seton has an excellent vocabulary and I liked that the tale was set at a place and time in American history that I was less familiar with. Most pre-civil war books I've read were either set in the south or in New England. I love reading books where I learn something new. I didn't know anything about...more
Christina
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bee
Miranda Wells is a naive farmer's daughter in 1840s Connecticut who daydreams of romance, wealth, and a different kind of life than the one she was born into. It seems that she will achieve at least the latter dream when a wealthy distant cousin, Nicholas Van Ryn, invites her to come live with his family in his upstate New York mansion. She is immediately transfixed by her mysterious, tempestuous cousin, while his food-obsessed wife, Johanna, takes an instant dislike to her and attempts to keep...more
Chaitra
Dragonwyck is a gothic romance in the vein of Jane Eyre, albeit set in America just before the Civil War. Nicholas Van Ryn is this novel's Rochester. A patroon in the dying days of feudal society, he clings to the trappings of fiefdom even when it becomes increasingly obvious that it is all going to end soon. He is also handsome, brooding, mysterious, and has a fat wife (Johanna) he doesn't care for to boot. So it's no wonder that his poor cousin Miranda falls hard for him when she comes to live...more
Oriana
I always had a soft spot for Gothic novels like Rebecca and Jane Eyre, so Dragonwyck seemed like a must read to me, especially when a brooding and mysterious character like Nicholas Van Ryn is involved. Nothing could be more perfect!

Honestly, in the beginning, I had some troubles warming up to Miranda Wells. In the movie adaptation, she's more sympathetic and we easily relate to her wish to see the world, where in the book I found her a tad unpleasant and extremely snob. I wasn't very sure I was...more
Bettielee
I was not really satisfied with this. I did not like the main character and most of my judgement is because it doesn't have as much of the gothic element as I wanted. It doesn't have that cloistered feeling. Even though the marriage and Nicholas's will cloister our heroine and she gives herself over to him, the setting of the house doesn't have that overbearing character feel to it. The house has a presence and a clammy, uncomfortable feeling, but it is haunted more by Miranda's regrets and memo...more
Melinda
This is a classic gothic love story. An historical work of fiction, this wonderfully written book is set in 1840's New York. The main character is Miranda Wells who sees her way out of her provincial life through a chance invitation from a wealthy cousin. Nicholas Van Ryn
invites Miranda to his manor house, Dragonwyck, to serve as a companion for his young daughter. This was the answer to Miranda's prayers. But beware! Evil lurks! By the end of the story, Miranda makes a painful discovery that re...more
Gayle Mullen Pace
I first read this when I was a teenager and years later I saw the film with Gene Tierney and Vincent Price. The movie is excellent and highly recommended, but I loved the book more. Miranda Wells thought she was escaping a dreary life at home, but what she got was far worse. Her quick marriage to Nicholas Van Ryn after the death of his first wife, seems like a dream come true. But she soon learns that her charming husband has a far different nature behind closed doors. He is a cruel and evil man...more
Margaret
Still not Katherine (all right, all right, I should just reread that already), but a reasonably good Gothic set in 1840s New York. Many of the standard ingredients are here, all well done: a young, beautiful naïve heroine comes to work as a governess in the magnificent mansion of a wealthy, dark, enigmatic man with a jealous wife. There are also a young, red-haired doctor, a mysterious and frightening servant, a family curse, and a ghost. Also, apart from the fairly effective Gothicness, there's...more
Holly Weiss
I have many Anya Seton books on my TBR shelf, but was drawn to this one because it was set in an area where I used to live.

Country girl, Miranda, is invited to her cousin’s manor house. There she learns not only how to accepted by high society, but also is drawn into the macabre household. Cousin Nicholas dominates the story with his unyielding, misogynistic tendencies. As their relationship deepens, Miranda discovers that being a grand lady has severe consequences.

Seton is a great storyteller....more
Marilyn
Feb 25, 2010 Marilyn rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Marilyn by: Christy
A naive heroine is caught up in an evil gothic tale, set in an old manor, but not in England! This story takes place in America, but there's still a lord of the manor who oppresses his tenants. The setting, surprisingly, is in Manhattan, New York. The shallow but beautiful heroine marries a handsom, intriguing, and seemingly upstanding man, who turns out to be about as evil as you can get. Her search for the glamorous life doesn't turn out very well, but she does gain maturity.
Camille Dent
This was easily on my list of favorite books before I even finished! I felt like the writer was well-researched in the standards and customs from the era she was writing from, and she did a fantastic job of capturing realistic characters. Miranda felt like a REAL teenager trying to fit into a social class higher than she belonged; Johanna felt like a REAL wife desperate to believe her husband loved her but subconsciously struggling with doubts and jealousy; Nicholas felt like a REAL power-obsess...more
Kelly
Took me a few attempts to get past the first few chapters, but once Miranda moves to Dragonwyck the story picks up pace. The 'villian' is wonderful and cleverly created by Seton; he is the most memorable character even though the story focuses on the sympathetic Miranda and her tormentated relationship with him. From the second half, I couldn't put it down and was 'told off' more than once to 'put that light out' whilst reading in bed :-)
Jaksen
I loved the book as a girl. Recently I took it out of the library and was sooo disappointed. Am I wrong or is their major head-swimming going on here? (Head-jumping some call it.) Maybe I am too critical in my older age as I write a bit myself and try to keep in mind the POV I write in. But I couldn't keep track of things - maybe I just need to let myself go and READ.

Couldn't get more than half a chapter in before returning it.
Christy
Jun 04, 2009 Christy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Laurie J.
Recommended to Christy by: Janet Stratton, in 1962
A bodice-ripping gothic romance from the 40's, when housewives were known to tuck it behind the more respectable books on their shelves. High school girls of the 60's (like me) passed it furtively to each other, and stayed up late finishing it. It wasn’t as racy as Peyton Place, but we agreed it was a lot more exciting. Now in the 21st century, it’s still in print, and it will still keep you up late reading. Trust me.
Mary
My parents bought several boxes of books at a garage sale when I was around 13 or 14. I've always loved to read, so I read this one and probably others. Dragonwyck is the only book I remember, though, from the books they bought. I loved it then and plan to read it again when I finish the book I'm reading now. But - I know I will still love it. BTW - I'm 65 now.
Jaie
So far so good. This book is one where you are grabbed on the first couple of pages. I'm only a couple chapters in but I suddenly realized that this book is why Anya Seton still enjoys popularity today. Forget your trashy Harlequins that melt your brain! Rise against it and read old romance novels that got your grandmother kicked out of school!!
Eomicheli
This book stands out for me because the heroine is far from perfect. I enjoyed watching her grow as the book progressed. Given the same time period and set of circumstances, I believe I may have fallen into the same situation that Miranda found herself in. Interesting read!
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Anya Seton (January 23, 1904 (although the year is often misstated to be 1906 or 1916) - November 8, 1990) was the pen name of the American author of historical romances, Ann Seton.

Ann Seton was born in New York, New York, and died in Old Greenwich, Connecticut. She was the daughter of English-born naturalist and pioneer of the Boy Scouts of America, Ernest Thompson Seton and Grace Gallatin Seton....more
More about Anya Seton...
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“Her lips were drawn to his like a moth to a flame.” 13 likes
“He was all sin and mystery, and Miranda feared the pleasures he offered as she feared the fires of hell. Yet when she succumbed at last, it was not because her body was weak but because her mind was curious.” 2 likes
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