Touch Not the Cat
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Touch Not the Cat

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  3,559 ratings  ·  185 reviews
Bryony Ashley knows that Ashley Court, the grand estate, is both hell and paradise -- once elegant and beautiful, yet shrouded in shadow. After the tragic death of her father, Bryony returns from abroad to find that his estate is to become the responsibility of her cousin Emory. Her family's estate with its load of debt is no longer her worry. Still, her father's final, di...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Hodder & Stoughton (first published 1976)
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A re-read from several decades ago, the suspense novels of Mary Stewart never fail to please. In this offering, penned during the groovy 1970's, Stewart was no doubt making Touch Not the Cat more relevant for the time period by adding the gift of telepathy to her heroine Bryony Ashley, and Bryony's mysterious telepathic lover.

Who is this mind-melding hero? Is it one of her cousins: Emory, James or Francis Ashley? Admittedly, for most American readers, this is a pretty icky coupling, but apparent...more
Final rating 4-1/2 stars

Touch Not the Cat is the first paranormal romance I’ve read by Mary Stewart. Telepathy between the heroine, Bryony Ashley, and her secret lover, is central to the book’s plot. At first glance, this seems a bit “odd” or cheesy, but I think Stewart writes it well. Once I got used to the idea, and Stewart stopped trying to justify using telepathy, I found it really added to the suspense of the story. Throw in a pair of “creepy” twins, a crumbling house, and greed, lust, and...more
Like most Mary Stewart mystery/romances, this book is a little dated: usually it's the massive smoking, nylon nightgowns and alpha heroes in MS novels; this time it's the ESP. Also, my paperback's 1970's cover didn't help:

Still, I thought it was a very enjoyable read. Mary Stewart really knows how to evoke the scenery, whether it's exotic locations or the English countryside. The telepathic link that the heroine, Bryony, shares with an unknown relative started out as a little bit of an eye-rolle...more
Bryony Ashley's father is critically injured by a hit and run driver, and he's only able to live long enough to leave a cryptic warning that she's in danger, the rest of his words seem to make no sense at all. Or do they? Devastated, she returns to her cottage near Ashley Court, the family's ancient estate in England, which cannot be sold or broken up without the approval of all members of the Ashley family. As she tries to sort the puzzle left by her father, Bryony also has a secret of her own...more
A quick and fun read -- it would've been quicker if I'd had motivation to read at all lately, but there you go. Like The Gabriel Hounds, it made me think of it as an adult version of the Famous Five, with romance added on. Mary Stewart's penchant for having the hero and heroine be related is a little odd to me -- however distant the relationship, it strikes me as odd.

Anyway, there's something very comfy about Touch Not The Cat, despite evil twins and moneygrubbing families. The writing is compet...more
There is no argument that Mary Stewart uses marvelous descriptive phrases when setting the stage for her books, and she did not fail here. As a reader I got the idea of exactly how derelict the manor house was, how overgrown the maze was and also was able to witness the gazebo tucked secretly away within the center.

However, as far as storyline went, this one was extremely slow-moving. In the course of half the book, we see the heroine return to her family estate, discover missing items and findi...more
Mar 04, 2009 Alyson rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, especially mystery lovers or Mary Stewart fans
Recommended to Alyson by: Sofie
I just adore this book. I love the way it unwinds, I love the characters, I love the peril—which seems so real, and ties into the past so well—and the story-within-the-story at the end of each chapter. Mary Stewart doesn't always allude to another story to tell the current one, but this is one of the books in which she does that, in which the tale of Romeo and Juliet—already familiar to the reader—serves as framework and comparison and contrast to what is taking place on the page. The heroine is...more
Jill Gilbert
You've got to love a book that dives into melodrama so completely from the very first sentence: "My lover came to me on the last night in April, with a message and a warning that sent me home to him." The "lover" in question is an unknown person who has a telepathic connection with our heroine. She doesn't know who he is, but she feels he is part of her and has loved him intensely from childhood.

With that, my 13 yr old self was hooked! I finally re-read this book, one of my favorite books from m...more
So, let me explain the absence of a star. :) This mystery was one of my favorites-- I loved the intrigue and the way it was set up. The telepathic connection that Byrony had (sounds so corny if you don't read the book, but it was EXTREMELY well done and believable!) was so good.... the deep love it portrayed. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole mystery of it. Her cousins, Emory and James, were also likable in their own scary sense, and in the middle of the book I had NO idea what was going to happen,...more
Afton Nelson
My new favorite Mary Stewart.
Good new classic. A bit slow (I'm so used to contemporary writers and more action), but very well done. A suspenseful psychic mystery with mild to medium romantic undertones.

I think I may have read it many years (like 35?) ago as small things would seem familiar, but it truly was mostly unfamiliar.
Mary Stewart is one of my all-time favorites. This is an old-fashioned thriller: well-written, witty, with interesting characters and a plot with unexpected twists and turns.
Angelica Bentley
This is one of those books that I enjoy re-reading from time to time, in fact I have just bought it again in hard cover as my old paperback was in pieces.

In this era of portable phones and ever-present electronic communication, the concept of “thought transference” may sound tame and obsolete, but if one is prepared to be transported back to a simpler time (and, let's face it, for most of us fiction represents escapism), entering this novel's atmosphere will plunge the reader into a world at onc...more
May 13, 2008 Merry rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hillary
Ah, another fun mystery/romance by Mary Stewart.
Miss Mae
Oh, this was good. I've never forgotten it.
I thoroughly enjoyed this little slice of the past. It's dated now ( I couldn't find it, but I swear there's a line in the book that says something like "but this is the seventies") but still quite fun. Part of the charm is the old British slang. It has all the requisite parts of a gothic novel: the innocent young woman, her crumbling old estate, and her father's mysterious death. But Bryony is also smart and can make up her own mind.

Of all the gothics I used to read, I've actually not read man...more
Anne Hamilton
Pretty much my favourite of Mary Stewart's books. A blend of romance, thriller and paranormal mystery, it holds its age with style. Only going to prove that a great story can transcend the writing mores of any particular era.

Bryony Ashley is woken by her mysterious lover, communicating with her telepathically, about her father's critical condition after an accident. She leaves her job as a receptionist in Madeira to travel to his bedside but does not arrive in time before he dies.

Returning home...more
Carolyn Hill
Re-read this after a number of years. I'm a big Mary Stewart fan and she never disappoints. Love how she incorporates her characters' psychic communication into the mystery/love story. It's subtle; she never hits the reader over the head with it, and it cleverly adds to the tension. Didn't give it five stars because it's just a little too neat at the end in the way she dispenses with the "bad guys."
Terry (Ter05 TwiMoms/ MundieMoms)
I read this book in the seventies and re-read it this year as I am slowly adding Mary Stewart's books back to my collection. This is an interesting little mystery with a light romance and a supernatural twist. I was a little confused at first (which I think is intentional by the author) about the little links to the past, but in the end it all made sense. It is a quick and fun read.
Kelly R
I really did like this book. The ending wasn't very strong, but I had a great time reading it!

Definitely not as good as Nine Coaches Waiting, but (I'm keeping it ambiguous so as to avoid spoilers) the relationship at the end between two of the characters was completely sweet and satisfying and everything I could have asked for!

Pure nostalgia. I first read this book when I was 13 or 14 so when I saw a battered paperback copy on the swap rack waiting for the ferry (having just finished the book I brought with me) I couldn't resist.
My first by Stewart


1992 Jan 01

Holds up amazingly well, still suspenseful, romantic, and surprisingly realistic


2009 July 14

One of those early-read and therefor beloved books. Even back in 76 or so, when I had very little experience reading romance, it was clearly a different sort. More like Rebecca than anything else. A romantic thriller with a surprising amount of realism, and the Stewart trademark: tons of literary references.

Still holds up. Still beloved.
Donna Hatch
Very good and beautifully written although a little slow at times. But lots of intrigue and a few surprises.
Marguerite Kaye
I'm reading my way back through Mary Stewarts and enjoying them. This one was recommended by Alison L because I like the ones with a touch of magic best, and it was exactly what I wanted - so thank you! As ever, first person, as you'd expect a little bit quaintly dated, but as always a great story, a nice romance, and some nasty baddies. I really enjoyed this, a fun, gently and beautifully written read with lots of action, though I confess I got a tiny bit bored towards the end, hence the 3 and...more
BJ Rose
heroine has telepathic powers with others in her bloodline - mainly cousins as I recall.
Another masterpiece by Mary Stewart. To be sent to Cinara as passport book..
Mary Stewart...enough said!
I love this book far more than I probably should. I read it at such an early age that it imprinted itself upon me and become my image of what the perfect book should be. I know this, objectively speaking, and yet I love it all the same. What I keep telling myself is that it must have been a good book in order for me to fixate upon it the way I did, so I don't feel too terribly guilty about my deep and abiding love for it, misplaced as it may seem to other people.

I first heard about this book whe...more
I'd really give it more of a 3.5 or 3.75, but let's round it up. ;o)

I listened to the audiobook version, and as always under those circumstances, I find myself with less to say than if I'd read the words on the page.

Though it's not as good as The Moonspinners or Nine Coaches Waiting, I enjoyed the book! It delivers just about everything you'd expect from gothic-mystery romantic-suspense. It was a bit predictable that (view spoiler) would turn out to be Bryony's "lover"-- and...more
The thing about Mary Stewart's books that I love is the atmosphere, and the beautiful descriptions. Even though I'm usually not a fan of too detailed ones, I enjoy them when they are done well and don't feel unnecessary.

Mary Stewart is doubtlessly a very skilled and talented author when it comes to writing about feelings, describing landscapes and buildings, and creating dark, foreshadowing and gloomy atmospheres. And the main characters are always more or less likeable as well.
What she doesn't...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Lady Mary Stewart was a popular English novelist, and taught at the school of John Norquay elementary for 30 to 35 years.

She was one of the most widely read fiction writers of our time. The author of twenty novels, a volume of poetry, and three books for young readers, she...more
More about Mary Stewart...
The Crystal Cave (Arthurian Saga, #1) The Hollow Hills (Arthurian Saga, #2) The Last Enchantment (Arthurian Saga, #3) The Wicked Day (Arthurian Saga, #4) Nine Coaches Waiting

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