by Victoria Holt
Publication Date: January 1, 1975
Genre: Historical, Romance, Suspense
Publisher: Companion Book Club
This was written in 1975.
This was a mantra of mine as I read this book. Generally, I’m unaffected by dated material, or maybe not unaffected, but aware that reading the old stuff means a likelihood of butting up against outdated social mores, prejudices and attitudes, and I try not to let it colour my enjoyment of the story.
I could not do this with Lord of Far Island. The romantic hero drove me plum crazy.
The book starts off slow, with Part 1 a very verbose retrospective of the MC, Ellen’s, life. It’s almost entirely telling, rather than showing. Part 2 gets a lot more interesting, as Ellen has been invited to Kellaway Island, a deliciously gothic island off the coast of Cornwall, complete with castle and all the gothic accessories. The Kellaway’s are her father’s side of the family and a complete unknown to her. There she meets the “Lord” of the island, Jago Kellaway, a many times removed cousin and the romantic hero.
Also, an utter prat.
I’ll get to the prat part later, because that’s where my inability to put aside the differences between when this was written and when I read it most strongly come into play. I also had a hard time with this romance because of the cousin thing – which I can usually shrug off, but it kept coming up, keeping it at the forefront. Even more creepy, in my estimation, was the fact that he kept referring to her as his ward. She’s 20 and he’s “not much more than 30”, so everybody’s well beyond the age of consent. But her father died and he named Jago her guardian until she turned 21, and he constantly introduced her as his ward, and reminded her he was her guardian and the whole thing just started to feel really creepy.
Did I mention Jago was a prat? Well, he was. I can’t explain it better than he can so here’s a few quotes:
“She’ll tell your fortune. I know you like having your fortune told. All women do.”
“That was a fortunate release, my darling. That’s how you’re going to see it.”
“You go too fast. I have not yet said I will marry you.
This is perverse of you because you know as well as I do that you are going to.”
It turns out I don’t like my fictional MC’s being bossed around any more than I like being bossed around myself.
I suspect if I’d read this when I was far younger I’d have enjoyed it more, but there’s been too much water under the bridge, so to speak, for me to find Jago to be anything but a prat.