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3.77  ·  Rating details ·  4,813 Ratings  ·  440 Reviews
The story is about a lonely child who is made to see the world through her cousin's unusual eyes. When the child becomes a young woman, she inherits her dead cousin's house as well as her reputation among the local community as a witch. However, as she finds out, this is no normal community, and worries quickly present themselves.
Hardcover, 207 pages
Published 1988 by William Morrow
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Shane Sawyer Gilly's cousin Geillis kept it hidden up the chimney. William told her where it was when he brought his sick ferret.

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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
This is between 3.5 and 4 stars for me, but if I'm judging it just as a comfort read, that and my general love for all things Mary Stewart push it to a solid 4 stars. Mary Stewart (perhaps inspired by her Merlin books that she'd been writing) wrote this sweet romance with a dash of magical realism, as our heroine dabbles in white magic of the hedgewitch variety (crystal balls and potions). Thornyhold is also a charming ode to the English country life and the healing that a lovely old home can br ...more
Those readers who love the vivid, lyrical prose of Stewart's novels shouldn't be disappointed in this offering, although be warned, it does differ from her earlier works.

Thornyhold is a more subtle and contemplative story then you might be used to when it comes to reading Stewart. After all, she was in her 70's when she wrote this, and I imagine she was harkening back to her youth while penning Thornyhold. Generally absent is the suspense and romance so magically woven throughout in The Moonspi
May 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pleasure-reading
Would it seem a little too precious if I said this book is bewitching? Seriously, it is. Thornyhold itself is so charming and alluring, with hidden staircases in cupboard doors and walled gardens in varying states of disarray.

It had a mediaeval look, like the jewelled, out-of-perspective illuminations in a tale like The Romance of the Rose. Within the irregular circle of ancient walls and vegetable plot someone, a long time ago, had made a garden within a garden. At its center stood a well, anc
4.5 stars
A lovely reread of an old favorite....a lonely, unloved child with a godmother known as a healer and white witch inherits Thornyhold when the old woman passes away. A gentle, quiet tale of a young woman's transformation as the magic of her country sanctuary and her love of all creatures great and small lead her to find happiness and love. Pure poetry.
This is simple perfection in descriptive poetic writing. Not earth shattering or life-changing, just a magical ride to another time and place chock full of imagery and tactile experience. If you enjoy exploration of nature and and discovery of nooks and crannies in historical old estates, quirky mysterious characters, with a little witchery thrown in, this is for you. The characters are colorfully drawn and feel real all the way down to the animals and birds. There are many quaint phrases that I ...more
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book!

The setting of Thornyhold is post WWII England. Young Geillis, known as Jilly has had a quietly miserable vicarage childhood raised by a stern mother and a gentle Vicar father. Her sad childhood is occasionally relieved by visits from her mother's Cousin Geillis, a world traveler, herbalist, and Jilly's sponsor/godmother. Jilly is gentle, intelligent and lonely, and the infrequent visits from Cousin Geillis have a magical quality for the lonely child. Cousin Geillis pays her sc
Marilo Meroño lópez
Lo único que no me ha gustado ha sido lo precipitado del final, le hubiera puesto una estrella más si no fuera por ese motivo.
Three and a half stars. I think this is one book that should have been about a hundred pages longer. It got off to a very promising start but then sort of petered out into nothing much. I really enjoyed the story of Gilly Ramsey’s lonely childhood and the bright moments of connection with her godmother. When Gilly inherits Thorneyhold I was delighted with both the house and all the mysterious goings on: flashes of intuition, cats, dogs, pigeons appearing, locked rooms and herb lore. And then…the ...more
Sarah Mac
I'm not sure what to make of Mary Stewart's oeuvre.

The Ivy Tree was my first MS experience, & I loved it. Spurred by success, I quickly followed with Nine Coaches Waiting & My Brother Michael, both of which I liked. But then came Wildfire at Midnight, which was disappointing. And now...Thornyhold.

It's well-written from a technical standpoint; then again, I'd expect nothing less. Stewart always displays a strong command of language & description, while her narrators are prone to quota
Susan Albert
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've loved Mary Stewart's romantic mysteries for decades, and I go back to them often. I picked up a digital copy of THORNYHOLD recently. I enjoy Stewart's characterizations but most of all, her descriptions of Thornyhold and its gardens. And of course, there's a stillroom. Any book that includes an herbalist, a stillroom, and a bit of witchery wins my heart.
Jan 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of A Wrinkle in Time
Shelves: fantasy
Gilly has a lonely childhood in the north of England between the two WWs, and foresees a long, lonely adulthood for herself. But then her father dies, and her godmother Geillis leaves her a house and garden in Thornyhold. Geillis always had an air of mystery and magic about her, and so does her house. Gilly begins exploring her godmother's herbologies and the woods around the cottage, but interruptions by her various neighbors leave her both unsettled and intrigued. Led by occasional messenger p ...more
Feb 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ashley by: Hannah
Shelves: brit-lit, buddy-reads
Years ago, I had a recurring dream that I was driving through residential streets in a sprawling neighborhood on a hillside. Not much ever happened in these dreams, but they always left me with a wonderful feeling of peacefulness. I can still picture some of them—big oak trees, cul-de-sacs here and there, lights twinkling from the houses as dusk fell.

Thornyhold is like one of those dreams—cozy and enchanting and deliciously serene. It’s a light read, but for what it is, it’s perfect. Loved it.
Sep 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
I loved ‘Thornyhold’ every bit as much as I had expected. And maybe even a little more.

Geillis was a lonely child, the only daughter of undemonstrative parents, but her godmother, a herbalist and maybe a white witch, understood and showed her the magic in the world that she had always wanted to see:

“Everything, suddenly, seemed outlined in light. The dog-daisies, white and gold, and taller than I was, stirred and swayed above my head as if combed through by a strong breeze. In its wake the air s
Emma Cooper
May 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This has been one of my favourite books for years, and I have recently re-read it. What I love about it is that it makes magic commonplace, seeing it everywhere in nature. The story is about Geillis (Gilly) Ramsey, who after the death of her parents finds a haven when she inherits a house in the country from her godmother (also called Geillis).

As she brings the house and garden back into good order, Gilly discovers that her godmother was known locally as a witch - and she wasn't the only one. An
May 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I'd read this before but had forgotten how lovely it is. The story is simple but one that tells of finding one's place, of healing the empty places, of coming home. I always enjoy Stewart's writing but in this book the atmosphere, the story, and especially the house are a pure delight for me. A true comfort read. I'm adding this one to my favorites shelf.

I want to live in Thornyhold! Even if it's only in my imagination.

Note: Each chapter heading in my 1988 hardback edition has charming illustra
Oct 03, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance, fantasy
Compared to Stewart’s other romance/mystery stories, this is rather gentle. It’s more about family being there for you, about everyday magic, about finding yourself at last and fitting yourself into the world. The protagonist, Gilly, really hasn’t had a chance to grow up, or at least to grow out of her parents’ expectations, and here she finds space to do exactly that, thanks to the cottage left for her by her godmother.

It honestly sounds at some point like there’s something more sinister going
Dec 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love this book so much! I am reading it for the third time, or I should say that I'm listening to the audio version read by Jane Asher (the one who dated Paul McCartney donkey years ago). I find it very soothing to lie in bed and have someone with a British accent read me to sleep. The magical element of the book appeals to me, as does the descriptive details about the settings. All those wonderful heirloom flowers growing amid the overgrown cottage garden, etc. After listening to the YouTube ...more
Aug 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Well, it's not really fantasy, more of a light little romance. Gilly is a lonely young woman whose strict, religious parents tried their best to keep her from her aunt who was rumored to be a witch. Now that Gilly is grown she's inherited the aunt's cottage . . . and her book of "recipes." Enter a serious widower with a charming son, a rival "witch" and some very daft sheep, and you have a charming book!
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lovely gentle story full of magic and romance.
Wonderful descriptions of the countryside.
Geillis inherited Thornyhold from her godmother , which is nestled in a wood.
A magical place with a resident black cat.
Strange neighbours and a secret recipe.
I loved it, beautifull descriptively written with suspense.
If you are looking for escapism this just does the trick.
Shawn Mooney
Apr 09, 2018 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
This was simply a case of my not having done due diligence on the book before starting. Mere pages in, I see this is a book with a lot of magic in it. No thank you.
Sara Giacalone
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
A bit more mellow than the others, in terms of suspense and mystery, but still quite fun and entertaining. Loved the description of Thornyhold and its gardens.
Elinor  Loredan
Thornyhold, one of my favorites, gives me a gentle, dreamy feel right away, like I'm looking out over a sunny stretch of countryside. When I surface from the narrative, I feel like I'm in a storybook myself, and everything around me is worth noticing, has significance. It's a very satisfying feeling. There's an interesting paradox as well--there's no sense of urgency in the mild events of the story, they just go along sedately, but I feel a sense of urgency to keep reading it.

Stewart does a goo
Carolyn Hill
Apr 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
I've read this book a couple of times because I can't resist a story about inheriting a house in the English countryside. Set in the late 1940's, this has a gentle, dreamy feel. Having endured a lonely and bleak childhood, Geillis Ramsey inherits a lovely old stone house in Wiltshire, from her mother's cousin, another Geillis, a reputed witch. "A good house, deep in the woods, with a garden all around it and a river flowing past it. Fruit trees, and flowers for the bees. A place to grow my herbs ...more
Dec 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: romance, fantasy
Thornyhold is a sweet little romance with just a hint of mystery and the fantastical. Nothing alarming about it -- no dead bodies buried in the back garden -- just what I suppose some people would call a "clean" romance. It was perfect for a break from my coursework. It's nothing wildly exciting: it feels soft and nostalgic round the edges. The characters aren't exactly vivid and bright: I doubt I'll remember them in a month or two. But they were comfortable, and I was glad of the happy ending f ...more
Enchantress  debbicat ☮~Traveling Sister
Loved it! Every single page. Brilliant!! It is magical and and offers a great escape. I could see myself reading this again...and I have done that with very few books. It has a cat and dog in the cast of characters, perfect book for me. Checked out from the library but I want my own copy for the bookshelf. It would be so cool if this could be made into a movie. Thornyhold sounds very beautiful and enchanting.
Jun 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-books
A comfortable, gentle story with a touch of witch(wish)craft. Likeable characters, with a picturesque setting. Classic Mary Stewart.
Mar 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommended to Davina by: Mom
A very comforting read. I enjoyed the details of daily life and human interaction. The kind of book you should read curled up with a cat and a mug of tea and makes you want to eat toast with jelly.
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd heard from friends that this wasn't as good as some of Stewart's other books, but I enjoyed this one! The village witch theme was wonderful, and the twist at the end unexpected. I'm adding this to my list of 'Mary Stewart Rereads'.
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: C.
Shelves: fiction
Sometimes a book perfectly fits your reading mood. This story of an unhappy young woman who inherits a woodland house from her godmother had just the right mix, enough suspense to keep the story going along with a cozy setting, lots of animals, and some humor.
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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, born Mary Florence Elinor Rainbow, 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, an
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“You get no writing done at all if you sit at a table with a view. You'd spent the whole time watching the birds or thinking about what you would like to be doing out of doors, instead of flogging yourself to work out of sheer boredom.” 13 likes
“I suppose my mother could have been a witch if she had chosen to. But she met my father, who was a rather saintly clergyman, and he cancelled her out.” 10 likes
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