I saw Crimson Peak recently and I LOVED IT. I worried with Tom Hiddleston in the lead that it would fall too much to the romance side. I worried with Guillermo del Toro as the director that it would fall too much on the horror side. But it was dead on perfect Gothic Romance. The sets, the costuming, the acting—everything was wonderful.
It sent me on a search for Gothic Romance reads. Classic Gothic Romance stories don’t always work for me as romances. The way I see it, Romance as a genre is a celebration of the traditional ideal of romantic love. Gothic Romance has all the trappings of romance, but instead of celebrating the ideal of romantic love, it challenges it. Is this love or obsession? Can love truly be a redeeming force? What if the person you love turns out to be a monster or a liar or a murderer? Is love a sacred thing or is it all hope and circumstance?
So romance on the surface, but with maybe a corpse hiding beneath the dark water.
Here are some of the recommendations I received:
Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier: I liked this better when I stopped trying to read it as a romance. The point of view character has a puppy-like infatuation with her much older husband. I’m pretty sure the author’s sympathies lie with his villainous, deceased wife, Rebecca. Maybe the best use of an unreliable narrator I’ve read.
Jane Eyre: I love Jane Eyre. My daughter read it recently. Before she went to bed, she said, “Mom! Mr. Rochester just asked Jane to marry him, and she said yes!” The next day, she was all scowly-faced. “We have to talk about Mr. Rochester.” Nothing beats attic wife.
Ammie, Come Home – Barbara Michaels: I like Barbara Michaels. Some of the stories feel a little dated, but they always hold my attention. They’re good spooky reads. Light on the romance.
Mary Stewart: I know I read Mary Stewart when I was younger. I would really like to read more, but I don’t read paper books, and she’s not available in digital. Boo.
The Haunting of Maddy Clare – Simone St. James: I’m a fan of Simone St. James. I liked The Haunting of Maddy Clare a lot. Very spooky. The romance in Silence for the Dead is better.
Other recommendations that I haven’t read yet…
Phyllis A Whitney
Dragonwyck - Anya Seton
Stygian – Santino Hassell
Do you have a favorite Gothic Romance?
Thanks to Jeffe Kennedy, Kristen Callihan, Jenn Burke, Laura Curtis, Kelly-Instalove for all the great recs!