Friday, December 17, 2010
Flashback: Reading Mary Stewart
(Originally posted 2/6/06 at Notes in the Key of Life)
OK, sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to what I'm reading. I can have a stack of books that I need to/want/should read, and I'll meander off and read something just for the heck of it. Or I'll have two or three books that I'm dabbling in at various times of the day or week.
That's how it is right now. I have several review copies of books that I'm actually looking forward to reading, and I find myself immersed in Mary Stewart's Nine Coaches Waiting.
My love affair with Mary Stewart's writing actually began when I was just a little girl, in the mid-60's. My older sister Beverly had bought Stewarts' The Moon-Spinners (on which the 1964 Hayley Mills-starring movie of the same name was based), and I ended up reading it. And re-reading it.
Even as a little girl, the suspense and romance of the tale captured me, and I loved Stewart's beautiful, almost poetic descriptive passages. The story was set in Crete, and it made me want to go there.
The adorable Hayley Mills in the Walt Disney movie based on Mary Stewarts The Moon-Spinners
I've been a Mary Stewart fan ever since...but only, interestingly enough, of her romantic suspense novels. Stewart has written at least four historical/fantasy books set in Arthurian times, but I've just never had a desire to read them.
Like most of her early novels, Nine Coaches Waiting (published in 1958) feels slightly dated, but in a very charming way--as if one had somehow landed in the middle of a Grace Kelly movie.
I know what happens in the end (or at least I have a vague memory of it), so why am I re-reading this book? For the same reason that I grab a Mary Stewart book whenever I see one at my local branch library. I like visiting that era and those locations (Greece, France, Austria, Lebanon, wherever); I love Stewart's ability to put me there; I like her heroines and their love interests, and I still admire her lyrical, descriptive way of turning a phrase.
Plus, if you read any of Stewart's suspense novels, you'll know that she can sneak in a shocking twist with the best of 'em.
I haven't been able to find The Ivy Tree at my local library, but I remember the twist that pulled the rug out from under me!
Any other Mary Stewart fans out there?