The Two Mrs. Carlyles

The Two Mrs. Carlyles

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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,Β 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…

This book is much like the classic novel Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier.

Rebecca is a Gothic novel set in the 1930s in the sprawling Estate Manderley, in Cornwall.

‘The Two Mrs. Carlyles’ is set in San Fransisco, around 1921, when the big earthquake happened.

So instead of writing a straightforward review, I am listing a comparison. (That way, the readers get an offer of two reviews for oneΒ πŸ˜ƒ)


Heroine (who is not given a name)

She is a shy, naive orphan who is content to take things lying down. She is a penniless wench of a character, easily intimidated. When she marries Maxim and enters Manderley as the second Mrs. De Winter, she lets the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, terrify her. Finding the ghost of Rebecca, the first Mrs. De Winter, mm at every step; it’s only at the end of the story she finds her life.


Heroine: Violet

She, too, is an orphan, but unlike Rebecca, she is spunky and spirited. She has two close friends from their days at the orphanage and lands with a terrible secret and an unexpected stash of money, which she shares with her friends.

When she has to fend for herself, she takes charge of her life and finds a job.

After she becomes the second Mrs. Carlyle and moves into the Mansion with Harry, she experiences strange goings-on at night. But unlike Rebecca, she is not content resting and feeling sorry for herself. She takes an active role in solving the mysterious happenings at the Mansion.


Hero: Maxim De Winter

Rich and handsome, not-so-young man; he is silent and taciturn. Refusing to answer the heroine’s questions about Rebecca, his first wife, he makes her feel all alone and abandoned. He is never there for her when the caretaker puts her through hardships.


Hero: Harry Carlyle

San Francisco’s most eligible bachelor with a dark secret, marries Violet after a whirlwind romance. He gets Violet to promise that she will never ask about his first wife, Madeleine, and holds her to it even when she is unsure if the first Mrs. Carlyle is alive or dead. Or if she is the ghost haunting the castle!


Setting: Manderley

It is an isolated graystone mansion set on the windblown Cornish coast. The dense gardens, the deep lakes, and the lakeside cabins hide terrible secrets.


Setting: The rebuilt Mansion

After the San Francisco earthquake, the damaged Mansion Is rebuilt. Madeleine is supposed to have perished in the earthquake. But then why is the Mansion decorated and kept in the exact same way as it was during her time? Why does Madeleine’s stunningly beautiful portrait that adorns the living room not allowed to be taken down?


The first Mrs. Dewinter, Rebecca

A famous beauty, a devoted wife, and a perfect hostess. The cause of untold insecurities in the young protagonist’s mind. The author’s success is seen in that Rebecca is not alive during the entire setting of the novel, yet her persona pervades almost the whole book.


The first Mrs. Carlisle, Madeleine

The entire novel hinges on whether she is dead and is a ghost or alive and pretending to be dead!

The terrifying housekeeper


Mrs. Danvers, the sinister housekeeper, devoted to Rebecca, is such an evil personality that the reader is left with anxiety for the young protagonist who has to share the gothic manor with such a malevolent character.


The prune-faced Mrs. Weber is a typical Victorian housekeeper, jealous about Harry’s affection and loyal to Madeleine. Openly unfriendly to Violet and creepily hostile, she makes her mistress’s life unbearable.



The ending is bleak and spine-chilling, in keeping with the book’s tone. There is a suspense revelation, but it’s not a tragic finish.


Yes. There is a suspense revelation. But the end is not disquieting. It’s more of an ‘all’s well that ends well’ conclusion.


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