Reading Binge

I’m on a Barbara Michaels binge. As I joked with my husband, one could get the impression that Barbara Michaels’s stories are all the same. First, a woman moves into an old house, typically in the D.C. area. The house is haunted by one or more ghosts. There is probably a moldy, nasty basement with a blocked-off section, but if not, then an attic with a hidden nook. There is likely to be a mysterious cat. Don’t be surprised if a seance takes place. Somebody will probably find and use old clothing or linens, and somebody will do some research. There’s usually some sort of digging involved, and references to archaeology. Oh, and of course, people fall in love.

That formula holds true for many of her novels (though not all). It makes sense given that she was a cat person and had a degree in Egyptology. Her style was intentionally Gothic, and can you even have a Gothic romance without an old house? But though many of the books have shared elements, they each have their own tone and often seem more different than alike.

The first book of my binge was Shattered Silk, an old favorite of mine. I don’t need to review it here, having done so back in 2010. Shattered Silk is now considered to be the first book in the “Georgetown trilogy.” Having never read the first book of the trilogy, it made sense to move on to that one next.

Ammie, Come Home by Barbara Michaels, Grade: B+

In Ammie, Come Home, we first meet the characters Ruth (a 40-something widow who has recently inherited a house in the historic Georgetown neighborhood of D.C.), and Pat (a big, loud professor whose mother is a notable socialite), and Sara (Ruth’s niece, a student who has come to live with her aunt). There was also a love interest for Sara, though I’ve forgotten his name. Ruth’s house turns out to be haunted, and not in a good way. To give the book its due, parts of this story really creeped me out, but the atmosphere was claustrophobic and the action repetitive. The characters kept going back to the house over and over again, even though the evil presence kept showing up and harassing them. The characters and their dialogue are very much products of their time, and they seem dated now. I’m glad to have read this book, but I doubt I’ll ever pick it up again. One last item of potential interest: this book was made into a TV movie called The House That Would Not Die starring Barbara Stanwyck.

After Ammie, Come Home, I moved onto Witch, the review of which will be posted soon.

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