Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chateau Chaumand

Chateau Chaumand by Andrea Delmonico
published by: Ace Books
Copyright 1968

Chateau Chaumand

An ominous storm was brewing the night Geraldine (Really? Geraldine?)
arrived at Chateau Chaumand as bride of Charles Chau-
mand. After a whirlwind courtship Charles had swept
her away with him to his gracious but intimidating home,
a vast resort on a lake in Wisconsin.

Vaguely apprehensive before meeting his family,
Geraldine too soon became aware of real, definite fear.
Someone at the chateau resented her sudden marriage
to Charles. Was it the Indian girl, Fawn, who had loved
Charles? Or her husband's handsome cousin, Matt, who
rivaled Charles for mastery over the estate ... and cov-
eted Charles' new bride?

Whoever it was, Geraldine was certain the "acci-
dents" pursuing her was the intentional acts of a
murderer ...

You might be asking yourself why I would shell out cash for a book with such a large tear in the cover. Well there are, in fact, three reasons:

Firstly, it is a "EASY TO READ - LARGE TYPE" and one never knows when a dreadful tragedy might strike that would leave you with a Vincent Price "Fall of the House of Usher" sensitivity to light. A sensitivity that would force me to read only by the barest amount of candle light, therefore making large type books quite useful.

Secondly, my husband and I once drove 10 hours to attend a Halloween Party in Wisconsin were we happened upon a very cheap haunted house that had actually stolen nearly all of dialogue from Disney World's Haunted Mansion and used it in ways that made no sense.

And thirdly, and most importantly, the publisher actually thought this book was so packed with sexual tension that it was wagering we readers would need a smoke somewhere between pages 64 and 65.

Newport, your "Alive with pleasure" ad is dated and oh so cheesy but Kent, as always you are a class act.


  1. That large type is quite the temptation. And I read enough of those paperback novels to remember those ads - thick little inserts that made you open the book immediately to the ads. In fact, there was no choice. If you became tired when reading, your hand would flip to the ads, losing your place.

    With regard to the Newport ads - they are the tawdriest products of commercialism America has ever produced. The models always look hysterical with pleasure - near demented - and always a hair's breath from giving themselves cigarette burns in their giddy passion for PLEASURE! I mean, these people really, really loved smoking! By the look of them, their hysteria would momentarily devolve into jags of uncontrollable sobbing.

    Kent ads were, as you say: dignified. Reserved. If one must smoke, and if one has taste, please help yourself to a Kent. I believe I left my pack on my mahogany inlaid coffee table. -- Mykal

  2. Some general questions, which you may have already answered somewhere on your blog, so please refer me to the appropriate place if that is the case: What do you think is the symbolism or even the psychological underpinning of the image of the woman running from the house? Is there any? Or is it just a cliche that identifies gothic romances? It would seem to me from your writings that it is a very consistent association, between the genre and this image, so perhaps there is some deeper meaning to it. What do you think?

  3. Mykal: LOL! You certainly have a talent for painting a picture. And a pretty disturbing picture at that. I'm not sure I will ever be able to look at a Newport ad again without shuddering.

    As for Kent, back in August I posted "Masque of Satan" which contained not only a extremely posh ad but also a chance to order and equally posh Kent "Collectables" serving set which included an insulated coffee dispenser, insulated coffee mugs in a variety of very sophisticated sizes, and of course, a popcorn popper, critical for any truly elegant evening entertaining.

  4. KB: Back in January I received a comment from the daughter of Lou Marchetti (whose work in Gothic romance art is absolutely beautiful) and she told me that her father referred to Gothic romances as "Light in the Window books" which I think is probably a more common term for them, over my personal made-up one.

    While portraying a woman running from a looming house is certainly a common theme, there is nearly always a "light in the window", even if the structure being fled from is an Egyptian tomb.

    I believe the crumbling structure represents the love interest within the home and the light would suggest (if only subliminally) that there is something inside the love interest the women are truly running from.

    Of the books I have actual read there has been the same story. A woman brought into a house, an outsider, normally for employment. She falls for a man with in the home, normally the head of the family or the heir. When our woman starts to think her life is in danger, her love interest is the first on the suspect this. Her love interest, always being "damaged goods" is easily thought to be the evil mastermind behind the attempts on her life.

    Of course, he never is the once behind the threat and she while she thinks constantly of fleeing the house, she never does.

  5. SpecterGirl: I have been my usual too flip ass in my responses, but this last entry from you was really fascinating. Do you think the light might also suggest a malevolent (or at least the perception of Malevolence and evil) observation of the fleeing woman? Also, the illustrations for these novels, by Marchetti and others, were always absolutely beautiful paintings. Top flight illustration. -- Mykal

  6. Spectergirl: Thank you for that explanation, and it certainly makes me want to delve deeper into this topic. I'll look back on your blog for that comment from Lou Marchetti's daughter.

  7. Spectergirl: A very good summary of the gothic romance pattern. I wanted to ask you if you've checked out the recent DC Comics collection Showcase Presents The Secrets of Sinister House -- the series began as Sinister House of Secret Love, one of the few gothic romance comic books. The covers include, yes, women running from houses.

  8. Jamie: I was not aware that DC had a Showcase Collection out of that title. I do actually have Issue 2 & 3 of the Sinister House of Secret Love. (KB: Just posted the 3rd issue on this blog here

    There is also DC Comic’s The Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love that also only ran 4 issues before having its name changed to Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion. This one also sport some very cool “Woman Running” art.

    I also have a near complete run of Charlton’s Haunted Love but, sadly, no “Woman Running” covers there.

    Thanks for the heads up on the Showcase Collection – I must have it!

  9. KB: Back in December I posted this piece by Lou Marchetti that I thought you, in particular, would appreciate.

    Also, if it is of any interest, The Castle of Otranto written by Horace Walpole and published in 1765 is generally considered to be the first Gothic romance ever written. (At least in English.) I’m really only familiar with it because it plays such a large role in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey.

    There is a blog that has posted the entire book.

  10. Mykal: Ah, yes I do. The thing is, in these novel the female character is inevitably looking for an identity. She has no home of her own, no family, and sometimes (when the reader is REALLY lucky) no memory of her past. The love interest represents everything she has been searching for, which basically boils down to security. There is no better representation of security then a house, better yet, an ancestral home. Security and Family Identity, Bingo!

    The appeal of the love interest is so intertwined with the house, it is impossible to separate them. The evil is present and she is being watched, be it the love interest or the house itself.

    In all honestly I really started this blog because I enjoyed the cover art far more than I enjoyed the books themselves. And, the consistent imagery was funny. (at least to me) I doubt I have read even 10% of the paperbacks I own (or have a plan to), but I just have to buy them for their covers. (Kind of like Pez, the candy isn’t all that good, but who could resist a glow-in-the-dark skull dispenser? No one!)

    I once had friends show up at my house with a gift of, literally, a case of 60’s & 70’s paperback books that all featured skulls on them. The illustration were entertaining but they just didn’t really do anything for me. So now they sit sadly on the sidelines watching my Gothic romances get all the attention. (A tragic life really.)

    The art by people like Walter Popp and Lou Marchetti are real high-points for me. There is certainly also a fair share of garbage out there. So many of the illustration are uncredited and it is nearly impossible to track down the illustrator for any particular work.

    A few weeks ago I discovered you could add pages to your blog so I have been working on collecting images of illustrations of particular artists from this genre that I am fond of and hopefully will soon be adding dedicated image pages for each of my favorites.

  11. Spectergirl: If you have Haunted Love #6, take a look at that cover, or you can see it here on the Grand Comics Database:

    I think that one might count as a "woman running" cover. What do you think?

  12. By the way, the "Chateau Chaumand" cover is by Charles Copeland -- did lots and lots of Gothics, and at the complete other end of the illustration spectrum, dozens of illustrations for the "Men's Adventure" mags. There's a decent article about him (with some nifty scans) on the Lynne Munroe Books website.