The Bride of Lammermoor, by Sir Walter Scott
The Classics Club issued a dare to pick a spooky classic from our lists to read. My CC list has already had most of the spooky classics taken, but I did have one left: The Bride of Lammermoor, by Sir Walter Scott. I knew it featured a bride who goes mad and stabs somebody, and that an opera, Lucia di Lammermoor, was based on the novel. Also, the novel was published in 1819. But it's historical fiction, set at the end of the 17th century, over 100 years before Scott wrote it.
Edgar, Master of Ravenswood, has been dispossessed of his ancestral property. His father was a Jacobite and was stripped of his title and everything else, too. Edgar has a single tower left to him, Wolfs Crag, and no money whatsoever. He has to find a job overseas, because he's certainly not welcome in Scotland, but first he would like to take his revenge upon the man who persecuted his father and then got all the property: Sir William Ashton, a grasping man. Before he gets the chance, though, Edgar runs into a lovely young maiden being menaced by an angry bull, and of course saves her. She is Lucy Ashton, his enemy's daughter, and they fall in love. Lucy is lovely and sweet, but not much on standing up for herself.
Sir William is actually pretty in favor of the match, and Edgar is willing to forget his revenge if he can have Lucy. The lovers make a sacred vow to each other, but then Lady Ashton comes home, and she doesn't like this idea at all. Lucy holds on, but her mother simply runs her right over and arranges a marriage with a rich and in fact reasonably nice neighbor, who has no clue that his shy bride is being railroaded. Edgar shows up but is not allowed to see Lucy alone, and she can't explain. So she goes mad instead, stabbing her bridegroom during the feast and then dying in a delerium.
It's not quite as exciting a story as it sounds -- there is a lot of time riding around the countryside and meeting up with a comic steward -- but it's pretty good. It was not at all a difficult read. I would not put it as high as The Heart of Midlothian, though. That's a great novel.
I have a great fondness for Patricia Wentworth mysteries, which are Golden Age but also complete cotton candy for the mind. One, The Ivory Dagger, is a riff on The Bride of Lammermoor, though Wentworth changes several things. She hangs a lampshade right on it, and it's pretty fun. So I'm reading that now in order to enjoy the inside jokes a little more.