This beautifully written book was originally published in the 1950's, but don't think it isn't worth the read because it's "old." Miss Linda Martin accepts a job as a governess for an orphaned boy in France. Philippe, the Comte de Valmy's nephew, is living with his aunt and uncle in the ancestral home. Philippe actually is the heir to the estate, but Madame Heloise deValmy and her husband Monsieur Leon deValmy are the trustees of the estate. Heloise hires Linda expressly because she is English and apparently doesn't understand a word of French. Heloise doesn't know that Linda is originally from France.
Heloise is beautiful but guarded, apparently with some health issues requiring constant medication. Leon is confined to a wheelchair after an accident. He runs the estate with loving care, as if it is actually his and not Philippe's. Leon has a son, Raoul, from his first marriage. Raoul is running Leon's personal estate. There are problems between the father and the son. Raoul has something of a reputation as a ladies man.
On the surface things are calm in the deValmy family but Linda has some strange feelings that make her uncomfortable, such as the original nanny being fired for no apparent reason. Philippe, at 9 years old is sickly and apparently desperate for friends. The secretiveness of some of the staff starts problems for Linda with gossip that she is in love with Raoul. Philippe tries to avoid his uncle Leon, as he is apparently afraid of him. Then the accidents start. First, someone takes a shot at Philippe, narrowly missing him, then he almost falls off his balcony when part of the stonework gives way. Linda saves him both times.
The story slowly builds. The accidents that Philippe has portend a greater tragedy in the planning. Linda's feelings for Raoul complicate the family dynamics. Everything comes to a head the night of the party. It's a great finish.
This book reminds me of "Rebecca" by Daphne Du Maurier. A psychological thriller, beautifully written the story will not only keep you interested it will keep you entertained.
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