Friday, March 13, 2009

I Found the Just Right Book!


Have you heard of Mary Stewart? I was introduced to her by the Bas Bleu catalog who offers her novel The Ivy Tree. I was intrigued by the description of The Ivy Tree (1961) and came across it in a wonderful new edition by the Chicago Review Press along with Stewart's novels Thornyhold (1988) and Nine Coaches Waiting (1958). Nine Coaches Waiting came home with me that day and I picked it up the other day.

It was perfect.

Nine Coaches Waiting is the story of Linda, a young woman living in England who, due to a series of circumstances, takes a position working as a governess in France for the Valmy family. Her charge is Philippe, a nine year old boy who has had a rough time due to the death of his parents. Something about the house where she has come and the people that live there seems....not quite right. Events happen, things are whispered and slowly it is revealed what a perilous situation Linda is in. Linda is such a wonderful heroine. She is clever and smart, and willing to take chances.

I'm trying to be so careful in this little synopsis because I do not want to give anything away that could detract from your enjoyment of this book. There is a wonderful suspenseful feeling about it, but also romance, friendship, and the rather ordinary goings-on for a governess. If it weren't for a few details, I could believe this book was written last week rather than in 1958. That is how timeless and modern the story and writing are.

So - have you read Mary Stewart? Apparently she is best known for her Merlin series, but I am more interested in these romantic-mystery-suspense sort of books. Do tell.

20 comments:

Melanie said...

Oh, have fun! I love Mary Stewart, especially Thornyhold. After I'd read all her mystery-suspense books more than once, I moved on to Barbara Michaels. Then I discovered Canadian writer Susanna Kearsley, who I think is just excellent, and very Mary-Stewart-like. If you are just beginning Stewart's books you have lots of good reading ahead!

Shelley said...

I love the cover and the story sounds great. I'm adding this to my TBR list.

Betty and Boo's Mommy said...

First of all, I loooooove Bas Bleu, so there's a plus right there. This does sound very good! I'll be adding it to my TBR list, too. Enjoy!

Lisa said...

I've never read these but you have me intrigued.

Eva said...

This sounds great Tara!

adevotedreader said...

I'm afraid I haven't read Mary Stewart but have heard of her for all the wrong reasons! The premise of The Ivy Tree is an absolute rip off the earlier Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey and I confess this has put me off her work. Perhaps I should give her a try anyway, but as a fan of Tey's I am reluctant to do so.

Staci said...

I read her entire Merlin series and IMHO I believe her books to be some of the best written in regards to Merlin, King Arthur legends. I haven't tried her other books and honestly I didn't even know that she wrote any others outside of the Merlin Series....sound pretty interesting!!

Tara said...

Melanie, yeah, a fan! I went to the library today and saw a bunch of her books there! I'm going to check out these authors you mentioned. Thanks!

Shelley, I think the cover is great, too.

B&B's Mommy, Doesn't Bas Bleu have the best catalog??? Glad this sounds to your liking.

Lisa, I'm glad!

Eva, yes, I really enjoyed it!

Adevoted reader, oh dear! Well I looked up what you are saying, and if it means anything to you it sounds like The Ivy Tree is sort of an homage to Brat Farrar and BF is mentioned by name in TVT. However, I do understand your reluctance.

Staci, that's good to know! Wiki calls her romantic-suspense ; as long as it's more suspense than romance, I'm in!

Robin said...

I love Mary Stewart!!! I loved her Merlin series, but I especially loved her romantic-mystery-suspense novels!!

Kay said...

Mary Stewart is a very old favorite of mine. I think I read her books first when I was in junior high maybe. My favorites are WILDFIRE AT MIDNIGHT, THIS ROUGH MAGIC (wonderful book set on the island of Corfu), AIRS ABOVE THE GROUND and THE GABRIEL HOUNDS. Oh, and also TOUCH NOT THE CAT.

Barbara Michaels is wonderful and is Elizabeth Peters in her other guise. If you have never read her Amelia Peabody mysteries, they are great, especially the first one, CROCODILE ON A SANDBANK. Victoria Holt, Jane Aiken Hodge...I could go on and on. These are the books I loved as a teenager. And, many are my comfort reads to return to again and again. The first Victoria Holt book I read, BRIDE OF PENDORRIC, was the scariest book. It had a mad woman in it and she looked like everyone else. I can still remember the chills that went up my spine. I think I was 12. These are the pioneers of romantic suspense.

Bybee said...

I don't think I've ever read anything by her, but I remember seeing her books everywhere when I was younger.
Thanks for the recommendation.

Cath said...

It's MS's Merlin books that I personally have read, and those are wonderful. Oddly, although I'm the right generation to have read her other books, I haven't. I do have Touch Not the Cat on my tbr pile though. I haven't even heard of the one you mention here.

Tara said...

Robin, do you remember any specifically that you were a fan of??

Kay, oh, thank you for all these titles! I recognize a couple from when I checked the library shelf today. All of your suggestions sound great! I am going to check them out!

Bybee, it looks like she has been writing for a long time - she has an impressive resume of books.

Cath, for whatever reason I'm not particularly drawn to the Merlin books...I saw Touch Not the Cat at the library today with a great old vintage cover.

Carrie K said...

I love Mary Stewart. I've read most of her books including her Merlin ones long ago because my mother loves them also but I recently reread a few. They're still really good reads. Thornyhold was the only one that I was a bit let down by but that's only because urban fiction has livened up the genre over the years.

Phyllis Whitney is another similar author.

nutmeg said...

What a fantastic cover! I have added her to my wishlist over at the book depository.

Bybee said...

Tara,
I realized that I hadn't answered about the Little House critical study. It's called Little House On The Prairie: A Reader's Companion. The author is: (get this!) Virginia L. Wolf. It was published in 1996 as part of the Twayne series.

Cornflower said...

I remember reading Mary Stewart when I was a teenager! I wonder if any of her books are stil in my parents' house - must check....

Iliana said...

I've been intrigued about her books since I found out about them via Bas Bleu too! I keep thinking she may be a bit like Barbara Michaels, whose books are great gothic fun.

Glad to hear this one didn't disappoint at all!

Robin said...

Tara, besides her Merlin series, I read Moonspinners, This Rough Magic, Airs Above the Ground, The Ivy Tree, and Nine Coaches Waiting. I remember not being able to get enough of her! This was way back in 1972, so I could enjoy rereading all of them again!! I also read a lot of Victoria Holt that year...

Tara said...

Carrie K, yeah! Glad to find a fan. I'll check out Phyllis Whitney. I love finding out about 'older' authors like this.

Nutmeg, isn't it a great cover, so gothic and suspenseful.

Bybee, thank you for your comment. I will check out this book.

Karen, really! I bet the old editions have wonderful covers.

Iliana, great minds, they say! I haven't read Barbara MIchaels, must check her out. This was a good solid read.

Robin, thank you for all the titles! I'm definitely going to read The Ivy Tree one of these days, and see what the library has.