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review 2018-04-06 17:45
Someone Is Trying To Kill Me. I Think It's The Man I Love.
Nine Coaches Waiting (Rediscovered Classics) - Mary Stewart

I know, I know, that post title could apply to basically every single gothic romance ever. In fact, as Linda Hilton knows, as I actually cribbed the title from an essay she discusses in this post (which is well worth reading, so you should read it!).


Nine Coaches Waiting centers around Linda Martin, a young French woman who is hired as the English speaking governess for Count Philippe Valmy, the nine year old heir to the Valmy estate and fortune. There are a couple of "accidents" where Philippe is nearly killed, at which point Linda begins to wonder if they were really "accidents" at all, or if someone really is trying to get rid of the young count.


As always, Mary Stewart's descriptions are truly lovely and evocative. Linda meets Raoul Valmy, Philippe's much older cousin, who is dashing and handsome and oh so mysterious. He doesn't live at Chateau Valmy, rather he lives at one of the lesser Valmy family properties near by. As the conspiracy unfolds, Linda falls head over heels in love with the enigmatic Raoul, which she realizes after possibly the most epic first date ever set down in fiction.


I am not going to describe that evening in detail though, as it happens, it was desperately important. It was then, simply, one of those wonderful evenings … We stopped in Thonon beside a stall where jonquils and wallflowers blazed under the gas-jets, and he bought me freesias which smelt like the Fortunate Isles and those red anemones that were once called the lilies of the field. Then we drove along in a clear night with stars as warm and a waxing moon staring pale behind the poplars. By the time we reached Geneva – a city of fabulous glitter and strung lights whose reflections swayed and bobbed in the dark waters of the Lake – my spirits were rocketing sky-high; shock, loneliness, the breath of danger all forgotten.


OMG, can Mary Stewart turn a phrase or what? 


Linda realizes the truth about the so-called accidents and takes flight from the Chateau with young Philippe, and what follows is several chapters of suspense where the two of them are being chased, hiding, escaping and trying to make their way to safety, without really knowing who is behind the attempts to murder Philippe. As was true of This Rough Magic, Stewart has a definite talent for ratcheting up the reader's anxiety. As is de riguer with romantic suspense, there is a happy ending.


This is my fifth Mary Stewart, each one more delicious than the last. At some point, I assume, I will have to hit a clunker. 


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review 2018-03-31 17:52
This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart
This Rough Magic - Mary Stewart

Does anyone else write like Mary Stewart? Because if there is another Mary Stewart out there, I want to find her. Her books are the perfect combination of romance and suspense, set in the most beautiful places. I really enjoy the fact that they are contemporaries for the time that they were written.


I would say that the closest that I have found to Stewart is Phyllis Whitney, who writes very similar romantic suspense/gothic romance, but she just doesn't have the writing chops of Mary Stewart. I'm wondering if anyone is aware of any modern authors who are writing this same type of book. I don't really enjoy the Pamela Clare style of romantic suspense, and J.D. Robb doesn't do much for me.


This was my first time reading This Rough Magic - it was one of my massive Mary Stewart kindle book purchase last fall. It is definitely up there with The Moonspinners for me in enjoyability, and I liked it better than both The Ivy Tree and Wildfire at Midnight.


This Rough Magic follows the Mary Stewart playbook - attractive young woman on her own goes to exotic place, becomes embroiled in something dangerous - espionage, smuggling, murder - falls in love with an equally attractive young man after they cross paths. Stewart has a gift for creating suspense, and one of the things that I liked about This Rough Magic is that the main character, Lucy Waring, extricates herself from danger with resourcefulness and persistence. She doesn't wait to be rescued - she rescues herself. I liked this a lot, and it placed Lucy on a footing of equality with the male love interest.


The Corfu setting is beautiful. Mary Stewart used Shakespeare's The Tempest as a jumping off point for the book, with quotes from the play as chapter headings, and discussions about The Tempest between the heroine, Lucy, a not-terribly-successful actress from London and Julian Gale, a very successful Shakespearean actor who has come to Corfu to recuperate from a nervous breakdown. Stewart's descriptive talents are formidable and she does a wonderful job of painting a mental picture of beautiful places. It had the same effect on me as The Moonspinners in making me want to jump on an airplane and fly off to a sunny climate, especially given that I am suffering mightily from spring fever in the midst of a grey Oregon winter.




As a downside, as is the case with a lot of mid-twentieth century fiction, there is a lot of colonialism and superiority in Lucy's interactions with the native Corfuites - the "nobility of the peasantry" condescension. This is likely inevitable given the time in which it was written, but, still, it is present.


Overall, This Rough Magic was a delightful read.


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text 2018-02-04 01:47
Updated my Currently Reading shelf!
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI - David Grann
C is for Corpse - Sue Grafton
The Venetian Affair - Helen MacInnes
This Rough Magic - Mary Stewart
4:50 from Paddington - Agatha Christie

My new narrative non-fiction read for February is Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann, which I am very much looking forward to reading - it came highly recommended!


I'm currently listening to 4:50 From Paddington while I make a going away quilt for a friend who is hitting the road to see the U.S. in an R.V. before moving to Arkansas. Her going away party is on 2/17, which means I am hauling ass on it! The theme is "Adventure Quilt," and I hope it turns out as amazing as my vision!


I'm also starting the next Kinsey Millhone, for my read-along with Obsidian Blue, and I have two group reads scheduled - Helen MacInnes and Mary Stewart! February should be a great reading month!

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review 2018-01-05 10:56
The Moonspinners
The Moon-Spinners - Mary Stewart

One of my mom's all time favourites, and I've finally read it.  I don't know what it is about Mary Stewart's books but they always start off a bit slow for me - or maybe I'm just impatient for the suspense to start?  Either way, they usually pick up pretty quickly and this was no exception.  The further along I got into the book, the harder it was to put down.


Still, these are very plot-driven books, so even though I enjoy the heck out of them, I always feel there's a little something lacking because there's not a lot of time spent on character building.  The Moonspinners probably had the best characterisations of all Stewart's books I've read to date.  Definitely a lot of fun; even if you don't care for the plot or the characters, it's almost worth it for the scenery of Crete alone.  

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review 2017-12-26 16:15
This Rough Magic
This Rough Magic - Mary Stewart

I´m not sure why I like Mary Stewart´s books as much as I do, but it must have something to do with the way I feel when reading one of her books:




Yes, she´s taking the reader on an adventure. And I don´t care how formulaic, unrealistic and farfetched her stories are and I can´t even get bothered by the mandatory romance in her books. The gorgeous descriptions of the landscapes and countries her books are set in, are alone worth the effort to read her books.


So, what does This Rough Magic bring to the table: The wonderful setting of Corfu, Greeks with iconic names, quoting of Shakespeare´s The Tempest (even though the play hasn´t any significance for the overall plot), an unconvincing romance (Lucy fell in love within a blink of the eye), an (almost) “over the top” bad guy and an action-packed finale.


This book feels like vacation put in between book covers and I guess her other books will give me the same feeling. And because of this I will happily return to Mary Stewart´s books in the future.


Book themes for Dies Natalis Solis Invicti: Celebrate the sun and read a book that has a beach or seaside setting. –OR– a book set during summertime. –OR– set in the Southern Hemisphere.



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