The Gothic Novel Book Club <Hiatus> discussion

Dragonwyck
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Book of the Month > Dragonwyck

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message 1: by Trinity (new)

Trinity | 803 comments Mod
Discuss here.


message 2: by Skye (new)

Skye | 364 comments I adored Dragonwyck, but I read it a long time ago. Anya Seton penned a stunning novel that features elements of Gothicism as well as historical non-fiction, despite the fact that it is a fictionalized version of a time frame in American history. I think too often, the term Gothicism conjures up a British ambience.


Kathy Last time I read this book I was in junior high school. I remember loving it. I must have since I named my daughter Miranda! I am currently waiting for a copy to be sent over to my library.


message 4: by Skye (new)

Skye | 364 comments I adore the name of Miranda, and I must have been in Junior high school as well.


message 5: by Trinity (new)

Trinity | 803 comments Mod
I haven't been able to find good copies of either book yet, but I do plan to read both.


message 6: by Skye (new)

Skye | 364 comments Nancy and Trinity, back in those days, opium ( aka Laudanum) was used as a beauty treatment, and I doubt if anyone had a clue how addictive it was; however, since opioid use has become an epidemic problem in out country, we have become more conscious of it; I remember reading Laudanum was often given to the heroine for 'vapors,' whatever that is.


message 7: by Trinity (new)

Trinity | 803 comments Mod
'Vapors' simply means they inhaled a tincture of Opium steam. This was believed to heal any manner of illness and to 'clear the mind' ie Sherlock.


message 8: by Trinity (new)

Trinity | 803 comments Mod
Opium dens became so popular because it was at one point seen as a 'cure-all'.


message 9: by Skye (new)

Skye | 364 comments Trinity wrote: "'Vapors' simply means they inhaled a tincture of Opium steam. This was believed to heal any manner of illness and to 'clear the mind' ie Sherlock."

Thanks, Trinity! Now, I know after all these years.


message 10: by Skye (new)

Skye | 364 comments Trinity wrote: "Opium dens became so popular because it was at one point seen as a 'cure-all'."

Yes, yes, and yea. I just thought of an amazing gothic book, btw, and let me see if I can find it; it's about Mary Shelley and the crew.


message 11: by Skye (new)

Skye | 364 comments I can't find it. Mary and Shelley, and Lord Byron, and Mary's step sister, and he doctor spent a summer at Byron's estate, imbibing and taking large doses of opium. Well sated, they told stories in a cave which led to the rise of Frankenstein, and other tales.


message 12: by Trinity (new)

Trinity | 803 comments Mod
I know what you're talking about. I have also read it before but I cannot recall the title.


message 13: by Skye (new)

Skye | 364 comments Ahhhh, just recalled the title, brb!!!


message 14: by Skye (new)

Skye | 364 comments Here we go, TrinityHaunted Summer, by Anne Edwards.


message 15: by Suki (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 14 comments I enjoyed Dragonwyck; it reminded me quite a bit of the Victoria Holt novels I adored when I was in high school, although I don't think any of her characters were as sociopathic as Nicholas.


message 16: by Skye (new)

Skye | 364 comments It was a great book; I read it many years ago.


message 17: by Trinity (new)

Trinity | 803 comments Mod
I have to appologize. I have been working my butt off lately. Four jobs does not denote ample reading time. I intended to read these but fear I won't get around to them. I will start The Passage when I finish my reading of The Legion of Flame. I feel I may be letting the group down. I will try to do better but life is getting busy on my end.


message 18: by Skye (new)

Skye | 364 comments Trinity, I understand! I work full-time, and it's hard to read three books ( or more) after I finish work ( I fall asleep). Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone.


Kathy I am currently reading it and quite enjoying it. I loved it in junior high school and thought that a re-read at this age would be a disappointment. Happily, I am wrong. I don't relate as well to Miranda as I did in the day. Really bent on stealing another woman's husband, isn't she! Guess my notions of romantic love have changed. However, I am much more interested in historical fiction and enjoy the tenant farmer/feudal manor system even more than I previously did. Not sure how I stand with this issue. If you are using the resources of another (land), shouldn't you pay rent? Especially if the rent isn't exorbitant?


message 20: by Skye (new)

Skye | 364 comments Kathy; great comments; I read it when I was in junior high school too, and don't recall it other than I loved it.
I think all of our views have changed concerned romantic love. I even forgot about the tenant farmer/feudal system, and of course, I agree that one should pay rent to live or use another's land, but evidently at that time, money for rent was not feasible and the feudal system is indentured ( but in my opinion it sure sounds like slavery).


message 21: by Suki (last edited Jul 05, 2017 09:17AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 14 comments Kathy wrote: "I am currently reading it and quite enjoying it. I loved it in junior high school and thought that a re-read at this age would be a disappointment. Happily, I am wrong. I don't relate as well to Mi..."

About the tenant farmer/feudal system, I think the smart move on Nicholas's part would have been to give the each tenant choices, such as: continue with the present arrangements, with continued uses of the amenities, and making rent payments (produce); purchase the land (with payment arrangements/mortgages available) where no rent is necessary, but a small payment is necessary to use amenities like the mill and sending produce to market; or, leave (with a reasonable amount of time allowed for relocation). Being able to purchase the land outright would have satisfied many of the farmers' ties to the land, but it would never have happened because Nicholas didn't need the money, and he was power tripping on his "lord of the manor" image. A lot of the tenants would have probably realized that the present arrangement was most advantageous to them, but their feelings of indentured servitude would have been allayed if they were given a choice.


message 22: by Skye (new)

Skye | 364 comments Suki, excellent ruminations, I think. Perhaps when I first read Dragonwyck, I was more focused on Miranda and less on the cruel manner of the 'lord of the manor' image, but frankly, this is good, because when and if I re read it, I will be more careful to think about the indentured servants ( it was a terrible practice).


message 23: by Suki (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 14 comments Skye wrote: "Suki, excellent ruminations, I think. Perhaps when I first read Dragonwyck, I was more focused on Miranda and less on the cruel manner of the 'lord of the manor' image, but frankly, this is good, b..."

Skye, I was also much more focused on Miranda, but it really struck me how Nicholas created his own problems with his tenants by being so iron-fisted and narrow-minded. He was the same way with Miranda. I think in her case, everything can be summed up by "Be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it..." :)


message 24: by Skye (new)

Skye | 364 comments An adage to live by ( believe me). I think, Suki, in that time frame, there was a tendency ( more so than now) for men to be brow beaters AND for women to accept their behavior. Many people create their own problems through vanity, fear, ego or self-dislike, yet they try to foist it upon other shoulders.


message 25: by Suki (last edited Jul 05, 2017 04:22PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 14 comments You are right, Skye. At one time, women were not legally persons, they were property; not allowed to vote or own land. And they were often treated accordingly.


Kathy Suki, I agree with you about the tenant farmer/feudal system though I don't see Nicholas' ego allowing the tenants to buy out the land. However, at that time period in America, there was lots of land farther west that could be bought from the govt. and farmed. It still leaves the problem of living in a place for generations and yet not being able to have a say on how the land will be used.

The patroon system was something I was not aware of. According to Wikipedia, the system was set up by the Dutch West India Company in 1629 giving a landowner huge manorial rights to set up basically a little kingdom on the east coast of North America. The purpose was to foster colonization and settlement.

Under this system, a patroon had enormous power over his tenants. A patroon could create civil and criminal courts, appoint local officials and hold land in perpetuity. In return, he was required by the Dutch West Indian Company to establish a settlement of at least 50 families within 4 years of establishment of the patroon. As tenants working for the patroon, these first settlers were relieved of the duty of public taxes for ten years, but were required to pay rent to the patroon.

After the American Revolution, primogeniture and feudal tenure were abolished and thus patroons and manors evolved into simply large estates subject to division and leases. In the Hudson River Valley area, the patroon system continued until the 1840s when challenged by the Anti-Rent Wars.

I somehow missed this in my history books!


message 27: by Suki (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 14 comments Kathy wrote: "Suki, I agree with you about the tenant farmer/feudal system though I don't see Nicholas' ego allowing the tenants to buy out the land. However, at that time period in America, there was lots of la..."

Kathy, I was familiar with the feudal system in England from history class, but I hadn't realized it had existed in America.


message 28: by Kathy (last edited Jul 05, 2017 09:26PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kathy Me neither. I want to read more on the Dutch West India Company. I read a bit about it in The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell though in that book it was the Dutch East India Company. I assume they are the same entity. Does anyone have any recommendations, either fiction or nonfiction, about this company?


message 29: by Skye (new)

Skye | 364 comments Kathy, I think we were not really taught this in school,; it was bypassed in the textbooks; in fact, when I met with my children's guidance counselor when they wer4e in high school, I discovered a current American history book and when I searched for the War in Vietnam, I was shocked with the paltry paragraph written about it; a paragraph.
I do recall learning about the Dutch West and East India Companies; however, I can't even recall in what context, and it is very sad that I learned our transcontinental railroad was built by Chinese immigrants.


message 30: by Skye (new)

Skye | 364 comments Kathy, your comment has really stuck with me, and I now recall learning about the Dutch East/West India Companies, but only in regards to trade. I also believe there was a crossing over between Britain and the Eastern part of America.


message 31: by Kathy (last edited Jul 06, 2017 04:27PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kathy Skye, my biggest complaint about our public school system is that it teaches the same stuff over and over again. It is also very limited to everything American. So much was just glossed over or completely ignored.


message 32: by Skye (new)

Skye | 364 comments Yes, sadly, Kathy; it leaves a great deal to be desired.


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