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5,0 sur 5 étoilesMy all-time favourite book
Commenté au Canada le 13 février 2018
I read this book when I was 10 years old and still love it 50 years later. It is a testament to this author that even though written in 1958, with no cellphones or texting, this story stands the test of time. Mary Stewart is one of my favourite authors and I re-read her books every couple of years. Now, on to the next one... The Moon-Spinners or Madam, Will You Talk? ... difficult choice.
5,0 sur 5 étoilesA little dated but still a great read
Commenté au Canada le 13 février 2018
From the days when men gazed at women through clouds of cigarette smoke and were allowed to grab women roughly to pull them into a deep kiss ... Stewart's women are always smart survivors with strong morals, striving to do the right thing as they untangle the mystery to find their happy-ever-after ending.
I wish I could find another author that I enjoy as much as Mary Stuart. I've read her books over and over again every few years because I can never find another author who writes such wonderful romantic suspense.
A wonderful offering from one of my favourite authors. Linda Martin's carefree life in Paris comes to an abrupt end at fourteen when her French mother and English father are killed in a plane crash. After nine unhappy years in a London orphanage, she lands a job in a private boys school but in her heart she still hankers to return to France. When she is offered the position of governess to a nine-year-old recently orphaned boy in the Savoy region, she jumps at the opportunity. For the first few weeks, life at the palatial Chateau de Valmy is like a dream come true: Linda quickly bonds with Philippe, the sad and sickly little boy with whom she identifies so strongly but dealing with her aristocratic employers is more challenging. The Countess is polite but chilly while her husband, the handsome Leon de Valmy, patrols the house and grounds in his unnervingly quiet wheelchair and sets a tense mood with his overbearing personality. A sudden visit from the son of the house complicates Linda's situation as she falls for him like a ton of bricks. Then a series of accidents involving the young boy breaks the spell and sets in motion a breathtaking chain of events that forces Linda to question her loyalties and tests her character to the utmost.
In her usual style, Lady Stewart sets the scene, plants clues, turns the tables and unleashes a thrilling chase that keeps the reader guessing and counter-guessing to the very end. There are literary references to the classic Cinderella story, Jane Eyre and Macbeth among others, and a good dollop of humour especially contrasting English and French attitudes. On a more sinister note, the devastating effect of gossip and malicious intrigue contribute to the mounting pressures that drive the second part of the story. This is actually one of the most romantic of Mary Stewart's novels featuring a very beautiful but self-effacing heroine (whose hard life has not entirely crushed her adventurous spirit) and a quintessentially smouldering hero who hilariously gets hot under the collar whenever the love interest is around.
All of Mary Stewart's hallmarks are present: the exquisite prose, perfectly-judged descriptions of locations and events, believable dialogue, unforgettable characters (there are many secondary players here that really come to life with their little quirks and an almost physical presence) and, of course, a fast-moving enthralling plot.
I have just re-read this novel for the third time and, even knowing the end, found it compelling and thoroughly engaging. As always with this author, the story works on different levels. A page-turner the first time around, but even more enjoyable on subsequent readings. The elegance of the writing cannot be overstated.
Written by one of the queens of romantic mysteries, Nine Coaches Waiting tells the story of Linda Martin, fresh from the orphanage and uncongenial teaching work. She longs to return to her native France (she is Anglo-French) and accepts a job there as tutor to a boy of nine. She finds herself in a beautiful chateau near the border between France and Switzerland and loves living there and caring for her fellow-orphan pupil but soon finds that the atmosphere is laced with menace. The plot moves forward at pace to a tense but very satisfactory ending. There are ways in which the book is a bit dated (Mary Stewart lived from 1916 to 2014 and began writing stories at the age of three) but it is splendid entertainment and I read it in a couple of sittings. The writing style is elegant with gorgeous descriptions of times and places. It has elements of Jane Eyre in that Linda is orphaned and without protectors and enters a mysterious, wealthy household with a stern and complex master in order to care for a child. Linda, however, is a lot prettier than Jane is said to have been. There are two saturnine and mysterious men attached to the household, as well as an attractive blond Englishman in the background. Who is good and who is villainous? Will evil be overthrown and right prevail? Above all, who will get the girl? As usual in Mary Stewart novels, the heroine, though inexperienced in the ways of men, is pretty bright and resourceful. Through her swift actions and desperate commitment, she saves the child, Philippe, from death and herself from the disastrous consequences of the villainy around her. She's also beautiful, though largely unaware of her effect on men. Those of us less generously endowed with beauty can share, for a little while, what is feels like to be gorgeous and to be loved by a very sexy man! Although I do have a feeling that men who are a real turn-on in books would be a pain in the neck to live with in real life. Alas!
5,0 sur 5 étoilesShades of Jane Eyre, deep and deliciously on the French/Swiss border, circa 1950s
Commenté au Royaume-Uni le 20 janvier 2015
Now I am not, in the general run of things, a reader of the Romance genre. Not unless there is a lot more going on than just the simple story of boy/girl meets boy/girl, there is some sort of problem, there may also be some sort of rival boy/girl and the main couple will/will not surmount the obstacle and live happily ever after/die a horrible death.
In fact, it has to be said I infinitely (in literature!) prefer the tragic end/star crossed lovers scenario than the Hollywood, sunset, hearts, flowers, wedding bells wrap. Unless skilfully done, with lots more going on (yes, that's you, Jane Austen, incomparable writer of fine romance and much more) the genre leads to a sugar overload which might predispose regular readers to diabetes.
So, it is no wonder that I never encountered Mary Stewart, as she does belong firmly on the Romance shelf - and, but, and, but I would therefore never have ventured there - till my interest was piqued by a book blogger who likes the same sort of lit-ficcy stuff I do, and for very similar reasons. She was praising Stewart to the skies. So I asked her to recommend one. And this is it.
Now, for sure this sits firmly within the genre, in that there is a man and a woman who will meet, there are problems ahead, there is indeed some possible rival and there will be/or not some resolution of satisfaction or dissatisfaction for our central characters (and no, I shan't tell, you'll have to read the book if you really want to know) Suffice it to be said though that Mary Stewart, now having some of her work re-issued in the `Modern Classic' category, was a prolific writer of Gothic romance-thrillers. Oh, and 'Gothic' is not used in the twenty first century sense to mean that you are going to be unpleasantly surprised to find a job lot of vampires werewolves zombies and ghosts have somehow got trapped within the pages. Think, more, the idea of dark secrets, high drama, possibly an isolated setting, or the idea of all this in the mind of our doughty probably female protagonist. She writes with a history which happily acknowledges `Gothic' in the sense of Austen's Northanger Abbey, or, even more pertinently for THIS book, Jane Eyre, rather than Hammer Horror Central Casting. The Gothic is very real and very human.
I was hooked from page one to page-the-end. There is indeed a dark thriller, we have men tall, dark, handsome, charismatic and probably not to be trusted. It is the 1950s. Our central character , Linda Martin. (shades of Jane Eyre, which even she acknowledges, as she is a well-read young woman) is an orphan, whose parents died when she was young. She spent the second half of her childhood in an orphanage, and then, as a young assistant in a dreary school. Chance comes Linda's way to become a governess (hello Jane!) to a little boy, scion of a family with a dark past and a probably darker future, deep in the French countryside. The family have a slightly different version of Mr Rochester on board. For reasons which are perfectly intelligent Linda, who is half-French (French mother, English father) and who lived in France until her parents' death pretends that she speaks very little French and understands even less - the employer was strict in their requirement for an ENGLISH governess as they wanted the boy spoken to only in English - though there may be other reasons for this. Linda's hiding of her perfect French and her French ancestry gives rise to a lot of intentional humour for the reader. Linda is a most attractive heroine, given to self-mockery, and is someone who rather enjoys winding up the bad-tempered people she meets with deliberate mangling of `Franglais' to annoy.
There are apposite little quotes, often from Shakespeare, as sub-chapter headings - our heroine/narrator, as stated earlier, is a reader.
Stewart is a wonderful writer - and particularly, a wonderful evoker of landscape. As I did some exploration into her life and works, I was utterly unsurprised to find she was a passionate gardener. Anyone who can so beautifully and evocatively describe plants, trees, skies, light and the scents, sights and sounds of the natural world is someone who has spent loving time within that world.
And, just like Miss Austen and Miss Bronte, Miss Stewart comes from a time when what is undoubtedly sex and desire is rendered much more potent for the fact it is not laid out for us. She is much more interested in exploring the subtle workings of the human psyche, than the rather more prosaic exploration of removed garments and anatomical diagram!
And, suffice it to say I have now downloaded Stewart's My Brother Michael, also highly praised, and will be skulking the Romance shelves of my local library to find more by this fine author.
5,0 sur 5 étoilesA wonderful adventure and mystery.
Commenté au Royaume-Uni le 16 juin 2018
I loved this book. I had forgotten just how good Mary Stewart’s writing is. I read many of her books many years ago and this brought back why I so loved her writing which is brilliant and so evocative of the surroundings that the heroin finds herself in. The characters are so well described and you can believe in the things that they do and what happens to them all. It had me in it’s thrall from start to finish. I am compelled to recommend this book to anyone who loves a good read that keeps you on tenterhooks all the way through.
5,0 sur 5 étoilesJust as readable as when I first read it!
Commenté au Royaume-Uni le 10 septembre 2020
This came up as a suggestion and as I had, I the past, read her books with considerable enjoyment I decided to add it to my Kindle collection. I am so glad that I did as I enjoyed just as much on the second read as I had on the first. If you are looking for an adventure that moves along at a smart pace with a little romance thrown in look no further! Her Arthurian cycle of books are also recommended as they left me feeling that if didn’t happen that way then it should have done.
Written in the late 1950's this is a fast paced well written thriller. No blood, no gore, just a simple story of a young English woman in France protecting a young orphan boy from imagined or real danger. Lovely descriptive passages of the French countryside, a tale told with the innocence of the time. I think that this is my favourite Mary Stewart novel.