Bedelia. Vera Caspary.

Bedelia

Vera Caspary. Dell, 1960.

Although the cover calls this a mystery, it is more accurately labeled a gothic novel, for all of the elements are here, with a modern twist: the man is the one who must figure out the mystery. Everything else is standard: the old mansion, a dark and stormy night, the protagonist questions his sanity and thinks the worst of his mate.

Written in 1945, this novel has some interesting thoughts on Ellen, a career woman, and Charlie, an upper-class man who nevertheless must work as an architect to earn a living. Other characters display hostility or subltle derision towards these two, but the author is sympathetic, and in the end (after Charlie forces his wife to commit suicide), they get together.

The author at one point laughs at her genre – Bedelia makes up her past and her name based on the ridiculous plot lines and absurd names of the romance and gothic novels she reads! Perhaps a silent plea for a bit of normalcy to the genre – yet she is betrayed by her own plot!