The Love Talker

The Love Talker

by Elizabeth Peters

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Laurie has finally returned to Idlewood, the beloved family home deep in the Maryland woods where she found comfort and peace as a lonely young girl. But things are very different now. There is no peace in Idlewood. The haunting sound of a distant piping breaks the stillness of a snowy winter's evening. Seemingly random events have begun to take on a sinister shape. And dotty old Great Aunt Lizzie is convinced that there are fairies about — and she has photographs to prove it. For Laurie, one fact is becoming disturbingly clear: there is definitely something out there in the woods — something fiendishly, cunningly, malevolently human — and the lives of her aging loved ones, as well as Laurie's own, are suddenly at serious risk.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780449244685
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/12/1981
Pages: 256

About the Author

Elizabeth Peters earned her Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago’s famed Oriental Institute. During her fifty-year career, she wrote more than seventy novels and three nonfiction books on Egypt. She received numerous writing awards and, in 2012, was given the first Amelia Peabody Award, created in her honor. She died in 2013, leaving a partially completed manuscript of The Painted Queen.


A farm in rural Maryland

Date of Birth:

September 29, 1927

Place of Birth:

Canton, Illinois


M.A., Ph.D. in Egyptology, Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 1952

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Once upon a time there was a nice big girl named Laura. She had rosy cheeks and nut-brown hair and three dimples, one in one cheek and two in the other. This nice big girl (no, she was not a nice little girl; she was five feet, nine inches tall and weighed one hundred and twenty-seven pounds).... As I was saying, this nice big girl lived in a nice little house. (It was little, even if it wasn't a house. It was actually an apartment, the kind they call an efficiency; so you see, it was very little indeed.) One winter day she was sitting by her window watching the snowflakes make pretty patterns on the pane when there was a knock at the door. A messenger dressed in blue, with gold braid, had brought her a letter. Little did she know it then, but the letter was from the elves, inviting her to visit them in their woodland haunts.

An hour after the mailman had handed her the special delivery letter Laurie was still sitting by the window staring at the big fat snowflakes. Instead of thinking pretty thoughts about their exquisite patterns she was wondering how many more inches the snow-beleaguered city of Chicago was due to get this time. She swore aloud, in language unbecoming a nice girl, big or little. What evil imp had possessed her to select Chicago as the place in which to write her dissertation? Why not Florida, or California, for God's sake?

There had been sensible reasons for the decision. The chance to sublet a friend's apartment, at a reasonable rent; the proximity to the university, with its excellent library. And there was the real reason: Bob. Bob was majoring in philosophy at the university. Bob was big and blondand adorably homely...and selfish and lazy and arrogant. She had not discovered that he possessed these additional attributes until after they had tried a brief experiment in communal living, and she thanked heaven that some residue of common sense, and the terms of her lease, had persuaded her to keep her own tiny apartment. Well, she should have known better. No doubt Bob's field of study had given her a false impression. She wouldn't have been surprised to find that a budding lawyer or doctor or business executive was a ravening chauvinist in sheep's clothing, but philosophers were supposed to be gentle, rational, and fairminded. She should have remembered Nietzsche and the Superman, Plato's views on slaves, women, and other inferior creatures, and similar philosophical aberrations.

The storm-gray skies were so dark that she could see her face reflected in the window glass, and its malevolent expressionand dim transparency suggested something out of a horror story -- a windblown demon, pausing in its flight over the cities of men to perch for a moment and leer in at her window. A doppelganger, the phantom double of the soul, whose appearance portended danger and death. The externalization of her own evil thoughts, grimacing and glowering at her....

Laurie's wide mouth curved in a smile of amusement, and the reflected features changed from diabolical to benign. Malevolence sat strangely on her face, it was round and pink and healthy-looking, with big brown eyes -- the Morton brown eyes, so dark they looked black in most lights -- and a generous, full-lipped mouth. Normally her mind was as healthy as her face; hostile thoughts were alien to it. She had spent too much time thinking up rude descriptions of Bob. At least the letter had given her something new to worry about.

Laurie should not have been staring out the window. She had a towering pile of notes on the table, on the left side of her typewriter, and a stack of virgin typing paper on the right side. She should have been working. Instead, she reached for the letter and read it again.

The beautiful, Spencerian handwriting was a little tremulous, but that was not surprising. Great-Aunt Ida was getting on. She and, Laurie shared a birthday, so it wasnt hard for Laurie to figure out the old lady's age. Ida had been sixty-eight the year Laurie was sixteen. She had spent most of that summer at Idlewood, and they had had a joint birthday party. So Ida was now seventy-five.

Her mind was as sharp as ever, though. The meticulous grammar and formal phrasing learned in Ida's long-ago school days were still faultless.

"My dear Laura," the letter began. "Far be it from me to place an additional burden on your time; I know the demands of a scholar's life and realize you must be 'burning the midnight oil' with your books."

Laurie grinned again at that. She had been burning the midnight oil, all right, but not with her books. How typical of her great-aunt to enclose that phrase in quotation marks, as if it were a bit of daring slang.

"However," the letter continued, "it has been some weeks since we last heard from you, and naturally we are concerned over your well being. I trust you do not leave your apartment after dark. The news broadcasts these days horrify us with their accounts of violence in the cities. I wish you would seriously consider coming to us to finish your dissertation. Our library is excellent, as you know; your old room is waiting for you, you would have the advantages of healthy country air and good food, instead of the sandwiches on which you no doubt subsist. I cannot believe you would patronize establishments of the sort we see on television; surely the waiters and waitresses constantly singing and dancing in the aisles would be enough to disturb one's digestion, even if the food were edible, which I understand it is not."

Laurie's grin broadened. Did Ida really suppose that the overworked employees of McDonald's and Roy Rogers' burst into song whenever someone ordered a hamburger?

The Love Talker. Copyright © by Elizabeth Peters. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Love Talker 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In snowy windy Chicago, Laurie Carleton works on her dissertation. However, a letter from her great aunt disturbs Laurie because the elderly woman says that her sister claims to see fairies in the woods. Laurie cherishes her two great aunts and uncle as they cared for her when her mother, struggling with a divorce, dumped the then eight-year-old girl on them.

Laurie quickly returns to the family's Maryland estate. When she arrives at Idlewood, her half-brother Doug greets Laurie. They team up to find out the truth. Laurie begins to hear music in the middle of the night and soon someone tries to run her over. Will it take a death or two before the survivors know what is really going on?

THE LOVE TALKER is actually a reprint of a 1990 classic that reads as fresh today as it did a decade ago. The romantic suspense has all the elements of a modern day gothic tale except more so as the talented Elizabeth Peters of Egyptology fame pens the novel. Fans who search for excellence in their novels will want to read Ms. Peters' book that is so reminiscent of the best of Mary Stewart.

Harriet Klausner

victorianrose869 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
9-18-2008This is another old favorite of mine from Elizabeth Peters (aka Barbara Michaels), and I decided to listen to it on audiobook this time. It was as entertaining as I remembered, and the narrator is terrific. Laurie is working on her dissertation in chilly Chicago when she receives an alarming letter from her Aunt Ida, hinting at oddities afoot at the old homestead in rural Virginia, peculiarities that involve Laurie¿s other aunt, Lizzie. Eccentric Lizzie is well known for her flights of fancy already and no one has ever taken them too seriously, so the fact that Ida felt perturbed enough to write to Laurie is bothersome enough, and Laurie can¿t help but worry. Her whimsical old aunt is apparently, incredibly, seeing fairies in the woods, and they don¿t appear to be entirely benevolent. After a serendipitous phone conversation with Doug, the half-brother Laurie hasn¿t seen or spoken to in years, the siblings head home to the secluded Idlewood estate to find out exactly what¿s going on. The aunts and their brother, Doug and Laurie¿s Uncle Ned, all live together in the old house, and Laurie is uncomfortably aware that at their advancing ages they may not be able to live entirely on their own for too much longer. In fact, she becomes convinced that while she¿s been away, someone or several someones have been taking considerable advantage of the old people, particularly of Lizzie. She has some astonishingly realistic photographs of what do indeed appear to be fairies, which have even Laurie ¿ who is well aware of the notorious Cottingley hoax ¿ perplexed. In addition, there is a mysterious young man living in a guest house on the property who seems to have weasled his way firmly into the lives and hearts of the old people, and both Laurie and Doug are suspicious of his motives. As the malice seems to step up with the siblings¿ arrival, Laurie begins to wonder who she can trust. Everyone seems to be keeping secrets as they all dance around each other with frustrating, reticent half-truths, and it¿s only when Laurie finally gets a little too close to the heart of the matter that the whole pot boils over.The odd title refers to Gan Ceanach (Gancanagh, Ganconer, Gan-Ceann), an Irish fairy whose name literally translates to `Love Talker¿ in English. He¿s known for hanging about in woods and glens, smoking his clay pipe and seducing young maidens with his enchanting voice before departing in a swirl of mist, leaving them to pine after him the rest of their days. As a character he doesn¿t play any real role in this book so I suspect it was just an intriguing title to use.Vintage Elizabeth Peters (although it seems more along the Barbara Michaels line and I wonder why she wrote it under the Peters name), fun and satisfying as always.
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