Michaeline: Mexican Gothic is Gothic Romance Distilled

cover of Mexican Gothic a young woman in a dark red New Look dress; her eyes are cropped out, and so are her feet. She carries a bouquet of flowers. Green flocked wallpaper in the background

Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (via her blog)

Last week, I was in the mood for something dark and spooky for Halloween month, and Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia was everything I wanted and more!

The book, which came out June 30, 2020, reminded me of so many different kinds of Gothic romance. It’s a bit weird, but the first thing that came to mind was Stella Gibbon’s Cold Comfort Farm, written way back in 1932. CCF was apparently a parody of dark and gloomy “rural life” gothic romances that were popular at the time; a sophisticated young society woman gets involved with distant family who live on a dilapidated farm and have quite a few issues. In CCF, the heroine is no-nonsense, and whips everyone right into shape with Modern Ideas, and most (if not all) get a suitable happy ending.

Noemí Taboada is a dazzling, giddy yet intelligent socialite in 1950s Mexico City who is sent by her father to check up on an orphaned cousin who is having some problems in her marriage. Noemí reluctantly agrees, and while she brings modern ideas and solutions with her, she doesn’t (and can’t) implement them in the bossy, brusque way Flora Poste does to Cold Comfort farm. Her antagonists are stronger, more stubborn and weirder, and quite frankly, it makes for a better conflict.

Cousin Catalina has married Continue reading

Elizabeth: The Woman Behind the Name

A week or so ago, the Women’s Prize for Fiction and prize sponsor Baileys launched the Reclaim Her Name campaign to mark the 25th anniversary of the award.  As part of the campaign, twenty-five works, written by women but initially published under male pseudonyms, were re-released under the writer’s real names.

One of the works in the set is Middlemarch, by Mary Ann Evans, who adopted the pen name of George Eliot in the mid-19th century, in order to ensure her works were taken seriously.  Evans is quoted as having said she was

“resolute in preserving my incognito, having observed that a nom de plume secures all the advantages without the disagreeables of reputation”

Her partner George Lewes added that

“the object of anonymity was to get the book judged on its own merits, and not prejudged as the work of a woman, or of a particular woman”.

The books in the Reclaim Her Name collection are available to download as ebooks for free (in case you are looking for something to add to your reading list).

According to the Guardian article discussing the collection, the promotion was intended celebrate some amazing women of the past who have never quite had their due as women. Continue reading