Two Books of Summer

The Robber Bridegroom by Eudora Welty

‘In the midst of the Mississippi woods, pretty young Rosamond Musgrove lives with her father, Clement, and her chilly, jealous stepmother, Salome. There, she is loved by her father, but treated badly by his wife, never able to please however little she complains. One day, she is instructed to clean the house from top to toe, to wash the floor, polish the dishes and shine the candlesticks until they gleam and glitter in the darkness. That evening, worn out and disheveled, she meets for the first time the dashing bandit, Jamie Lockhart, and from then on, her fate is sealed…

In this extraordinary, colorful fairy tale of the South, Eudora Welty clearly displays her admiration of the old tradition and combines it with her perceptive and curious sense of the place and people she loves.’

This was my first foray into Welty’s writing. Wrong one to start with I think. I didn’t enjoy it at all. Thankfully it was short. It’s written as a fairytale, loosely based on the Grimm fairytale of the same name. But it is set in the deep south and in the late eighteenth century. Welty throws in a couple real legends as characters (Mike Fink and The vicious Harpe brothers) and utilizes the real Natchez Trace as a place in her story. That added a bit of fun, but other than that I really didn’t care for the book.

‘In the daytime, in the silence of noon, while they were all away, she cooked and washed and baked and scrubbed, and sang every song she knew, backwards and forwards, until she was through with them. She washed the robbers’ shirts till she wore them out with her washing, and then one evening they brought her home for a surprise a spinning wheel that had come their way, at great inconvenience, and so she spun and manufactured all they would need for the cold winter coming. She packed them lunches to take with them in the mornings, a bucket for each, in case they became separated before they would have their food at noon over the fire of an oak tree. And she wove a mat of canes and rushes and made them wipe their feet when they came in at the door.’

I had to look at the front cover to make sure I wasn’t reading Snow White or Sleeping Beauty! This was a Virago copy and had a ten page introduction to the book.


The Stormy Petrel by Mary Stewart

‘When Rose Fenemore sets out to meet her brother Crispin on the island of Moila off the west coast of Scotland, she looks forward to a quiet holiday in a natural paradise of seabirds and wild flowers. Remote and lonely, the island seems to Rose the ideal place away from it all. The isolated cottage she has rented, advertised as an ‘ivory tower,’ promises to be a perfect retreat where she can finish writing a novel, and where Crispin can walk and fish and indulge his passion for photography.

But things do not turn out so idyllically. Her brother’s arrival is delayed, and the island’s peace is shattered by the appearance one night of two men seeking shelter from a violent summer storm – men whose conflicting stories draw Rose into a web of menace and suspicion. 

Rose’s discovery of the stormy petrels – the fragile, elusive birds who nest ashore but spend most of their lives flying close above the sea waves – comes to symbolize the confusion she feels about Ewen Mackay, the man known as the island’s prodigal son, and about the man calling himself John Parsons, whose account of himself Rose has every reason to distrust.

Moving through an arresting landscape of Scotland’s fabled Western Islands, The Stormy Petrel is an enthralling story of mystery and suspense, with the touch of romance and sheer good writing that is the hallmark of Mary Stewart’s work. It is a splendid addition to her long and distinguished list of international best sellers.’

Mary Stewart’s books can always be counted on for a good read. I love the sense of place and the light suspense mixed with a wee bit of romance. A light read, worth time.

These two books are on my list for 15 Books of Summer over @ 746 Books. Off to a roaring start!