When Kate Mitchell was offered the job of part-time secretary at Tor-Fret, a lonely old house on the Northumberland fells, she had no idea that the household was composed only of men. Her employer, Maurice Rossiter, an embittered victim of polio, was subject to alternative fits of temper and depression. Even so, Kate found it difficult to understand his peculiar hatred of his elder brother Logan, on whose charity Maurice was obliged to depend. But when she accidentally stumbled upon Maurice with Logan's fiancee , she became aware of some of the secrets of Tor-Fret, and realised she was getting too deeply involved with Logan Rossiter and the other inhabitants of the mysterious household.
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(178mm x 106mm x 17mm)
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
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US Kirkus Review »
Good brother and bad brother feud on the fells. Kate Mitchell takes a job as secretary to writer Maurice Rossiter, who lives with his brother Logan and three elderly uncles in a windswept house called Tor-Fret, known for years as the House of Men, since no female could stand its isolation or comprehend the dark doings and vicious quarrels that still seem to echo from every shadowy corner. Yes, the Rossiter men-excepting Logan-were and still are hard-drinking womanizers (the ragged lunatic who skulks around the house is none other than the by-blow of the brothers' grandfather). Though blessed with masculine beauty, Maurice was always a twisted sort given to consorting with decadent poseurs. But since being stricken with polio, his chief pleasures are whining, driving the servants crazy, and conducting an illicit affair with Logan's fiancee, Noreen Badcliff. Sharp-eyed Kate witnesses a tryst between the two at the river and looks away when they swim naked together. But who is the bald man watching from above through binoculars? And, later, how did Logan nearly break his neck when out for a walk on the misty fells? Logan, a redoubtable giant of a man, is apparently pretty easy to knock over and never even heard his lunatic half-brother sneaking up on him. Still, Kate falls madly in love with Logan when he rescues her from an assault by her former love Arthur. Her parents cluck and rub their hands, but she makes the long trek to Tor-Fret and finds a knack for overhearing the quarrels and mutterings of its inhabitants. Maurice's deep dark secret and his reckless dalliance with Noreen lead to tragedy as Logan and Kate are overcome by a gang of village thugs in league with Maurice and left for dead. Yet the sun will rise on a new life for all-this being the late, ever-prolific Cookson. Gothic goings-on served up without a trace of irony. (First published in England, 1963) (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Catherine Cookson
Catherine Cookson was born in Tyne Dock, the illegitimate daughter of a poverty-stricken woman, Kate, whom she believed to be her older sister. She began work in service but eventually moved south to Hastings, where she met and married Tom Cookson, a local grammar-school master. Although she was originally acclaimed as a regional writer - her novel The Round Tower won the Winifred Holtby Award for the best regional novel of 1968 - her readership quickly spread throughout the world, and her many best-selling novels established her as one of the most popular of contemporary women novelists. After receiving an OBE in 1985, Catherine Cookson was created a Dame of the British Empire in 1993. She was appointed an Honorary Fellow of St Hilda's College, Oxford, in 1997. For many years she lived near Newcastle upon Tyne. She died shortly before her ninety-second birthday, in June 1998.