Lee Anne's Reviews > Uncle Silas

Uncle Silas by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
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's review
Oct 01, 2011

really liked it
Read from November 01 to 16, 2011

Exactly what the cover says: a Victorian Gothic novel of mystery.

Maud lives with her wealthy widowed father, and barely knows a thing about her father's brother Silas, who has spent his whole life as a decadent seeker of life's pleasures and who relies on his brother Austyn for the occasional handout. Silas Ruthyn disgraced the family name by marrying a slattern and from the death of a bookie who was staying in his house (it was ruled a suicide--from a slit throat!--and Silas was said to owe him a large sum of money, although his books weren't found in his effects). When Austyn Ruthyn dies, his will decrees that Maud live with Silas until she comes into her majority (about 3 or 4 years); Austyn was hoping that this act would help redeem Silas, as proof that Austyn trusted him with his daughter's care. Of course, should Maud die, Silas would inherit the sizable estate.

LeFanu builds the tension and suspense, as Maud struggles with life in her uncle's shabby mansion. With no truly unexplainable events, there is still a vague intimation of the supernatural that hangs over everything. I kept fearing that Silas would turn out to be a vampire, or dead, etc., but the true question is simply: Is Silas evil, or truly reformed, an ill and religious old man? He seems so bad, but there's always a kernel of "maybe he HAS reformed, and the book is trying to make me think otherwise" to keep you guessing. All the supporting characters--Madame de la Rougierre, the sinister French governess (she is CREEPY); cousin Monica, the closest thing to a mother figure for Maud; Milly, Silas' uneducated, braying, silly daughter, whom you end up loving; Dudley, Silas' uneducated, lying son; the one-legged farmer and his beautiful, coarse daughter--all are so well-drawn and completely entertaining. I couldn't guess what would happen, and I enjoyed getting there.

This was another book suggested by the Goodreads recommendation engine, and I'm impressed yet again with their smart choices. I really liked this book.

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Reading Progress

11/03/2011 page 28
6.0% ""I treated her as if she had human sympathies, in the hope that they might be generated somehow." What a great line!"
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message 1: by Kelly (new)

Kelly This has been on my to read list for a few years. Now I really want to read it!

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