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A Phantom Lover

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By: (1856-1935)

A Phantom Lover is a supernatural novella by Vernon Lee (pseudonym of Violet Paget) first published in 1886. Set in a Kentish manor house, the story concerns a portrait painter commissioned by a squire, William Oke, to produce portraits of him and his wife, the eccentric Mrs. Alice Oke, who bears a striking resemblance to a woman in a mysterious, seventeenth century painting.

First Page:

A PHANTOM LOVER

By VERNON LEE

1890

To COUNT PETER BOUTOURLINE, AT TAGANTCHA , GOVERNMENT OF KIEW, RUSSIA.

MY DEAR BOUTOURLINE,

Do you remember my telling you, one afternoon that you sat upon the hearthstool at Florence, the story of Mrs. Oke of Okehurst?

You thought it a fantastic tale, you lover of fantastic things, and urged me to write it out at once, although I protested that, in such matters, to write is to exorcise, to dispel the charm; and that printers' ink chases away the ghosts that may pleasantly haunt us, as efficaciously as gallons of holy water.

But if, as I suspect, you will now put down any charm that story may have possessed to the way in which we had been working ourselves up, that firelight evening, with all manner of fantastic stuff if, as I fear, the story of Mrs. Oke of Okehurst will strike you as stale and unprofitable the sight of this little book will serve at least to remind you, in the middle of your Russian summer, that there is such a season as winter, such a place as Florence, and such a person as your friend,

VERNON LEE

Kensington, July 1886... Continue reading book >>


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