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!

 

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Airs Above the Ground by Mary Stewart

Isn’t this the greatest cover?!

Lovely Vanessa March did not think it was strange for her husband to take a business trip to Stockholm. What was strange was the silence that followed. Then she caught a glimpse of them in a newsreel shot of a crowd near a mysterious circus fire in Vienna and knew it was more than strange. It was downright sinister.
  Once again Mary Stewart unfolds a masterpiece of intrigue, terror, and suspense in this headlong-paced tale of a young wife’s search for a missing husband…

“A Tale of breathless excitement against a background of breathless scenic beauty.”    ~Cleveland Plain Dealer

I don’t think I’ve read a Mary Stewart I don’t like yet. Another great gothic suspense novel! The book started off a little slow of action but it was concentrating on building the background and relationships. I really enjoyed the relationship that developed between the heroine and the young man she was escorting to his father in Vienna. After finding his father, he and Vanessa went on a wild ride together piecing  together the mystery that was Vanessa’s husband and then the mystery surrounding the circus and the Lipizzan stallions.

After solving the mystery of Vanessa’s missing husband Tim and she are pulled into the dangerous world of her husband’s and the mystery that took him to Vienna in the first place. Desperate chases on dark castle rooftops and up dark misty mountains. Wonderful tension and suspense and atmosphere galore! I really hated to see this one come to an end as I was quite taken in with the characters. These three characters would have made a superb series! If your going to pick one Mary Stewart to read I’d say start with this one!

This book counts for Shadowy Figure for the Vintage Scavenger Hunt – Silver Age   @ Bev’s My Reader’s Block. That makes 6 for me in the silver age!

Peggy Ann

 

Thunder on the Right by Mary Stewart

A tense, fast-moving novel set in the Pyrenees. Jennifer Silver looks forward to meeting her cousin at Gavarnie, but on arrival she finds that she has vanished. There is evidence that she is dead, but Jennifer refuses to believe it.

Very taunt suspense in the lovely Pyrenees. Jennifer goes to meet her cousin at a convent where she is considering taking her vows after the death of her husband. When she gets there she is told her cousin has died following a terrible car accident. She is shown her grave. But the things those who nursed her before her death are saying just don’t describe Gillian. For one thing she never mentioned her family or told them her cousin was expected and to notify her. And then there are the blue gentians that they say were her favorite flower, she so loved the blue color. Gillian had a rare form of color-blindness!

Then there’s Dona Francisca, in her black habit with her red ruby medallion. Or is she really a nun? If not why does she seem to run the place? Where did all the expensive treasures around the small church come from? How could this small, impoverished convent afford such things? And why does the Reverend Mother not seem to know about them? What is Dona Francisca up to? And what lengths will she go to, to protect whatever it is?

An old flame from Jennifer’s past shows up in town just in the nick of time. Will he be able to help her figure out what really happened to Gillian? A wonderful, tense, climactic ending, with a race up a rough mountain in a terrible storm. Is Gillian really alive? If so will they save her? Who lives and who dies in the made race against time in the raging storm?  Will the boy get the girl? You’ll have to read it to find out!

Peggy Ann

Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart

Back of my copy of book:
Gianetta is hoping for a tranquil interlude on the Isle of Skye. Bruised by divorce from her writer husband, she seeks solace in the island’s savage beauty. But a vicious murder throws the community into confusion – and then her ex-husband arrives…

from Goodreads:
Midnight on Skye: a young crofter’s daughter is cruelly and ritually murdered on the bleak Scottish mountainside. Very soon Gianetta Brooke, a guest at the deceptively idyllic Camasunary Hotel nearby, finds herself tangled in a web of rising fear and suspicion. When she discovers that her ex-husband has booked into the same hotel, the peaceful holiday for which she had hoped takes on quite another complexion.

This Mary Stewart mystery was written in 1956. A good solid mystery with lots of wonderful characters and suspects. The lovely setting of Skye and rock climbing. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Ms. Stewart was born in England but lived many years in Scotland and this story is set in Scotland so this one counts for Read Scotland 2015. That brings me up to 15. 10 more to go!
What was your favorite Mary Stewart?
Peggy Ann