The Two Mrs. Carlyles by Suzanne Rindell
English | 2020 |Historical, Mystery/Thriller| ePUB| 2.4 MB
A suspenseful and page-turning descent into obsession, love, and murder in the wake of San Francisco’s most deadly earthquake—and Suzanne Rindell’s most haunting novel since her acclaimed debut The Other Typist
Which wife holds the darker secret?
San Francisco, 1906. Violet is one of three people grateful for the destruction of the big earthquake. It leaves her and her two best friends unexpectedly wealthy—if the secret that binds them together stays buried beneath the rubble. Fearing discovery, the women strike out on their own, and orphaned, wallflower Violet reinvents herself.
When a whirlwind romance with the city’s most eligible widower, Harry Carlyle, lands her in a luxurious mansion as the second Mrs. Carlyle, it seems like her dreams of happiness and love have come true. But all is not right in the Carlyle home, and Violet soon finds herself trapped by the lingering specter of the first Mrs. Carlyle, and by the inescapable secrets of her own violent history.
efore the great earthquake of 1906, I was not haunted, but it would be inaccurate to say my mind was entirely at peace.
From the time I was a small child, I’d suffered from what the sisters called “spells”—strange, trancelike episodes of which I have no memory. I’d be found, say, with a broken toy but no understanding of how I’d broken it. I was raised to see these spells as an undesirable flaw in my person—my curse, really.
In fact, I have always had reason to believe that my spells had something to do with my winding up in an orphanage. Most of the other girls had arrived at St. Hilda’s Home for Girls by the traditional route: that is, as infants, by way of a basket left outside the main gate. But I was seven when I was brought to St. Hilda’s. I still have memories of a house. Richly colored rugs. A chest full of toys. A fireplace and a room filled with books. I must have been around six when my mother and father died. I suffered a terrible spell around the same time and, in consequence, did not learn the particulars. The most I have been told since is that they took sick and that there was simply nothing for it.
An aunt with three children of her own took me in for a short time, but I’m told that when my spells began to take the form of hysterical, violent crying, her nerves were stretched to the limit. My aunt dealt with me as best she could, mostly by putting a drop or two of laudanum in a glass of milk and ordering me to drink it down.
She kept me in her care for just shy of a year, at which point she had a change of heart about her duty—or so I assume, because she brought me to St. Hilda’s and left me, with stunning detachment, in the care of the nuns who greeted us at the gate. I was confused when we first arrived. My aunt bade me stand a few paces behind her and whispered something to them I couldn’t hear, until her voice rose a little as she went on.
Surely you understand. I can’t have that kind of wickedness in my house. She’s beyond my help!
The nuns bobbed their heads. I was admitted without further interrogation. I never saw my aunt again. It was then that I realized most of life is divided up into a series of “befores” and “afters”:
Before my mother and father died, and after.
Before my aunt brought me to the orphanage, and after.
Before I made friends with Cora and Flossie, and after.
Before the orphanage caught fire and burned to the ground, and after.
Each event marked a sea change and divided my life with a sense of permanence. There was no going back, no reconciling the dichotomy.