Victoria Holt 1969
An old fashioned 19th century whodunit like they used to write it that will keep you guessing until the end. Caroline Verlaine, a musician, has just lost her husband Pietro, a world-famous pianist. Soon after, her sister Roma an archeologist disappears. Caroline travels to the scene of her disappearance at a mysterious Lovat Stacy estate in Kent.
"I am wondering where I should begin my story. Should it be on the day when I saw Napier and Edith being married in the little church at Lovat Mill? Or when I was sitting in the train starting out on my journey to discover the truth behind the disappearance of my sister Roma?"
"I was a woman who had tasted life and found it bitter--no, bitter-sweet, as all life is; but the sweetness was gone and the bitterness remained."
"From my earliest memories I was interested in sounds. I loved that of trickling water, the sounds of the fountains playing, the clop-clop of horse's hoof on the road, the call of the secret traders; the wind in the pear tree... I could even hear music in the dripping of a tap..."
"Now you're going to be a coy young lady and say 'This is too sudden.'Some of the best things in life are; and you have to make up your mind suddenly or lose them."
"You've heard about the Sands, Mrs. Verlaine. Quick sands...shivering sands...Boats are caught in them and they can't get off. They feel themselves held in a grip so fierce that nothing will release them...and slowly they begin to sink into the shivering sands."
"It was Beethoven's Fur Elise, in my mind one of the most beautiful pieces ever written...I was deeply moved, for the piece brought back memories of the house in Paris and of Pietro. He had said of this piece: "Romantic...haunting...mysterious.
You couldn't go wrong with a piece like that. With that you can hypnotise yourself into thinking you're a great pianist.""
"You leap to conclusions, do you not? As for bluntness I find that those who pride themselves on being frank usually apply then term to their own plain speaking. They often have another for other people's--rudeness."
"The maternal instict... not that I want to discourage it... But it should be applied sparingly, and in secret. Worry about me, but don't let me know it. Be unobtrusive. Little attentions should be performed subtly so that they go unnoticed. I should turn in disgust from a fussy possessive female."
Personal note: A blind pick from a number of old books in a surprise bookshelf inside our hotel room at Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, Montreal, Canada.