Help ID a book

Years ago, at least thirty, maybe more, I read a book in a Reader’s Digest anthology.

The story was contemporary for the time, but part of the action took place in a very old English manor, from the late 1500’s maybe? A lost “priest’s hole” was found, with the body of a young Spanish woman laid out on a small bier. She’d known she was dying, and left a note asking for whoever found her to have masses said for her soul. Later on, after the masses, the protagonists found a painting that had been given to her by King Phillip II of Spain, a portrait of himself, by(I think, maybe) Velazquez(sp?)

I think but I’m not sure, that the story was told in the first person, by a woman. She was also the person who spoke to the priest about the masses. The Spanish woman had a long family name, but I remember the priest said “I expect God will know who we mean if we just say Juana”

That’s about all I remember, I was curious about it because of the conversation between the priest and the female protagonist.

Was it a RD Condensed Novel Anthology? Wikipedia has a list of them and their contents here; hope it helps.

Thanks for the link. I’ve been looking through the titles and so far I haven’t seen anything that leaps out at me. I recognize some of the volumes from their titles, some books I liked well enough I went out to find the whole book.

Some of the titles are linked to info about the book. I’ve looked at some of those and not found the story in the OP. I’ll keep trying, it seems to be the only way I’ll find what I’m looking for.

I think, but am not sure, the author was female, so I look at those first.

Well when you figure it out, be sure and tell us; we need closure too, ya know. :stuck_out_tongue:

I’ve been investigating the details, and I think I may have an answer for you. Was the book Green Darkness by Anya Seton?

It was condensed by Reader’s Digest in the early 1970s. Here is a description of the plot.

I read and re-read the Reader’s Digest version of Green Darkness as a teen, and I do not recall anything the OP is describing. No Spanish woman or anyone named Juana. There was a woman who’d been walled up for adultery and the book is basically a reincarnation novel following both her present and past lifetimes and those of some of the people around her facilitated by a cardboard-type ‘guru’ character (very typical 1970s fictional mysticism). Still, it was a fun read - but I don’t think it’s the book the OP is looking for, by their description.

Ah, Baker’s not that particular; he’ll read any old book that’s about walling up women.

(smily emoticon)

No, that wasn’t the book, sorry.

Funny thing though, when I read the plot of Green Darkness I recognized it, and remember reading it! But I dont recall if it was the Reader’s Digest version or not.

The story I remember definitely had a valuble paintin involved. Instead of Velazquez the artist may have been El Greco. He did a number of portraits of Spanish royalty.

Thanks for everyone’s help and ideas. Now this is driving me nuts.

I think I’ve found the book. Mentioned it on another board and finally got a reply.

I’ll have to doublecheck, but it sure sounds like The Property of a Gentleman, by Catherine Gaskin.