Thursday, April 3, 2008

'Window on the Square' by Phyllis A. Whitney

Danger, romance, and suspense! All these things can be found in Phyllis A. Whitney’s Window on the Square. Published in 1962, this classic novel of romantic suspense was called a “haunting absorbing suspense” by the Columbus Enquirer and “a superior whodunit” by the New York Morning Telegraph.

The scene is late fall in New York in the 1870’s. The weather is just starting to get colder, leaves falling to skitter across the pavement, and the smell of snow is in the air. The women are wearing long gowns complete with bustles, and Megan Kincaid is all alone in the world. She recently lost her mother and only sibling, a younger brother with a disability, in a runaway coach accident. Megan, armed only with her inferior dressmaking skills, is facing the unknown.

Megan’s salvation comes in the guise of Mrs. Brandon Reid. At one time Leslie Reid had been married to the prominent New York District Attorney, Dwight Reid, the golden child of the city, who was gunned down in an unfortunate accident involving his seven-year-old son, Jeremy. Now Mrs. Reid is married to Dwight’s older brother, Brandon, and the house in which the murder happened is filled with the echoes of a single gun shot.

Asked to the house under the pretense of making Mrs. Reid a new gown, Megan knows her paltry skills would in no way please the coldly elegant beauty that is Leslie Reid. Once at the house on Washington Square, Megan is interviewed not by Mrs. Reid, but Mr. Reid. He apologizes for the false pretense and quickly explains he had heard of her wonderful success with her disabled brother and wonders if she would be willing to work with his nephew Jeremy.

Jeremy, he explains, is troubled and is heading down a path in which he could be lost forever. Megan, seeing the need of the small child, quickly agrees and moves into the house on Washington Square where she is installed on the third floor - but things in this elegant house filled with elegant people are not as they ought to be.

Observing Mr. and Mrs. Reid’s relationship, Megan notices the chill and reserve they both wear at times; the masks they use to hide whatever burning emotions lurk beneath. Mrs. Reid’s old governess, and now the keeper of Jeremy’s younger sister, Selina, Miss Garth instantly dislikes Megan and viscously attacks her character on several occasions. The children’s tutor, Mr. Beach, warns Megan that Jeremy is a lost cause and that she should escape the house as soon as possible, least something horrible befall to her.

What really happened that night so long ago between Jeremy and his father? Why does Miss Garth so viciously dislike Megan? What is it that Mr. Beach is so afraid will happen? Why does Mrs. Reid stay closed away in her room? And why, oh why, is Mr. Brandon Reid going out of his way to please Megan?

You will be kept on the edge of your seat as the story unfolds and Megan comes closer and closer to a truth that will destroy the imagined peace at the house on Washington Square.


Sheila said...

katie! Long time no talk! do you still have a myspace? if you do there is a link on my blog and you can add me! <3

Kahnee said...

Hi Katie! Great review. I missed you. Hugs and Kisses and all that good stuff.

Skeeter said...