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Madam, Will You Talk?
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Madam, Will You Talk?

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  4,461 Ratings  ·  336 Reviews

Much of a strange and tragic drama of revenge, lust, fear, and death has already been played by the time Charity Selborne arrives at a plush resort in the South of France.

But by befriending a terrified boy and catching the attention of his enigmatic, possibly murderous father, Charity has inadvertently placed herself center stage.

Hardcover, 191 pages
Published June 28th 1956 by William Morrow & Co (first published 1955)
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
99c Kindle sale, Oct. 4, 2017. This is my second-favorite* Mary Stewart book, and it's brand new to the Kindle in the U.S. (as are all of Stewart's suspense novels; her U.S. fans are greatly rejoicing). So grab it on sale if you have any fondness for the old-fashioned romantic suspense novels! Nobody does it quite like Mary Stewart.

It's about 1950, and Charity, a young English widow (her husband died in WWII), is traveling with her former co-worker, Louise. They begin their leisurely vacation w
There is an old-fashioned elegance about Mary Stewart's writing. A stately polish with a more then a hint of an old 1950's Hollywood movie.

Whatever minor quibbles I (as a modern reader) have about some of the outdated social mores found between the pages of a Stewart novel, it is only that - minor. They are easily overlooked by the smooth and soothing way in which Stewart can pull the reader into her world of danger, intrigue and romance. Ultimately, however, her incomparable sense of descriptiv
Nov 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Both Hannah and Jeannette wrote such excellent reviews for this, I’m not sure I have much more to add. In fact, here are the links to their reviews.

Hannah's review
Jeannette's review

I did think this book was a lot of fun though. While I was reading, I kept thinking of old 1950s Hitchcock movies with icy blondes, big heavy cars, and sinister villains. LOL

So I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to cast this puppy with stars from the fifties? They would have to be English, of course, since most of the c
Mar 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Take one brave heroine who drives her snazzy convertible like Mario Andretti.

Add thrilling car chases on twisty roads in the south of France. And a mysterious but magnetic stranger who’s always just a few car-lengths behind.

Mix in splendidly described settings from Avignon…

…to Marseilles.

Stop for a quick bite at a roadside bar where even the croissants are to die for…

Or savor a more lavish meal on a terrace…

Add some moments of true terror when a man who might just be a murderer is spotted on the
Nov 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Very mild spoilers ahead.

This was my first experience of Mary Stewart. I gather she was a bit of a phenomenon in the 1970s, but the idea of romantic suspense must not have appealed to me at that time. The incentive to read this particular novel was an extended buddy read and the fact that the novel is set in the south of France, where I’ll be spending a couple of weeks in March this year.

The novel was first published in 1955 and it shows. It has a dated quality with more references to smoking t
Buddy-read with Hannah, Misfit, Willowfaerie, Jeannette, Laura, Leslie, Kim, Joanne, Marg, SarahC, Jemidar, Willofaerie

Page 2:
How was I to know, that lovely quiet afternoon, that most of the actors in the tragedy were at that moment assembled in this neat, unpretentious little Provençal hotel?

Pont du Gard, Avignon

St Benezet Bridge (Pont d'Avignon)

Page 18:
I looked about me, resigned to the fact that almost everybody in the hotel would probably be English too. But the collection so far seemed vari
Jan 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1940-1960, suspense
This is my first read by Mary Stewart. Written in 1955, it’s definitely dated in many aspects from constant smoking where barely a scene went by without someone lighting up to social attitudes. Reading it is like watching old Hollywood movies where sophisticated people eat, drink, smoke, drive glamorous cars and deal with mystery and intrigue.

The story starts off placidly but you are told things are going to quickly change as all the players are in place. There is suspense and tension abound in
Nov 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am going to review 3 Mary Stewart books all in one since I just finished reading them all (Madam will you talk, This rough magic, and My brother Michael). Let me just say that reading a Mary Stewart novel is so very very refreshing. You know that at the end you will feel nothing but satisfaction. I don't know how she does it, but the chemistry between her heroines and the leading men are FABULOUS. I find myself not being able to pin point why they are just meant for each other but they just AR ...more
Dec 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am lucky to have not read an abundance of Stewart's romantic suspense novels in the past, so that I can read them now. These are so like the mystery stories that have always drawn me in. These books make me thankful to be a part of my generation. As a young reader, I wanted to be like the Mary Stewart heroine: smart, a traveler, well-spoken, well-read, with a little bit of a "past." All the rest in a Mary Stewart novel is just icing on the erudite cake. And it still is.

Stewart also has a mind
Enchantress  debbicat ☮
It was great!!!!! Charity is a very memorable heroine. Adventurous and independent. I think she is one of Mary's best! I loved following her around and a few certain danger scenes will remain unforgettable. OH, and the dog, Rommel!!! I often notice how Mary has animals as fairly important characters (important to the storyline) in her books. The dolphin, and cat, in This Rough Magic, The hounds in The Gabriel Hounds...I greatly enjoy this about her books as an animal lover myself. I always look ...more
This is my second favorite Mary Stewart, I just love the mix of suspense!

I can't write a synopsis, I just can't. I loved this book too much, I wouldn't ever be able to write a fitting synopsis so I'm just going to say what I loved; which was everything. The Hero was perfect in a none perfect way, the heroine did a lovely job driving; she had me on the edge of my set! There where midnight car chases on the cliff edges, puzzles as to who was to be trusted and who wasn't and, suspense. Thrilling,
Christmas☆ Carol!☆

An amazing first novel, even though the coincidences are a bit hard to swallow.

Beautifully captures the spirit & style of Southern France, (right down to the fact you are looking through a haze of cigarette smoke all the time!)I really felt like I had been taken on a journey. & Charity was another brave & resourceful Stewart heroine. & I liked the character of Louise very much. So many older romances don't show true, deep friendship between women, but this book does.

(view spo
Mar 21, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance, mystery
Not my favourite of Mary Stewart’s novels, but it’s what the library had when I felt like revisiting. It probably hasn’t really been long enough since I first read them, but ah well: they’re still fun. Stewart was brilliant at establishing a sense of mood and place: a hot French town, dust on the roads, shade under the trees, a cool breeze when you drive fast but sticky and heavy when you’re stuck in traffic… I enjoy Charity’s character, her past, and the fact that despite that tragic past, she ...more
Feb 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gothic, 2013
What an exciting and absorbing story! This author certainly knows how to describe places as you feel you are right there next to the heroine, experiencing her adventure.

I loved the setting - lovely descriptive phrases used for it, the heroine and her brave and smart decisions, the men in the story - were they the good guys or bad guys, hard to tell the way the author told the story and the exciting climax of the tale.

I think - to date - this has to be my favorite Mary Stewart story. But don't h
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

Charity Selborne is on holiday with a friend in the south of France, but in true Mary Stewart fashion, she's soon mixed up in a potful of mystery and intrigue when she meets a young boy in terror of his murderous father. I've just spent an hour on another review, and I have floors to vacuum and laundry to launder. Hannah and Jeannette have already written such excellent reviews, review that mirror my thoughts on the book, and you can read them here and here. But please don't miss Willow
Olga Godim
Mar 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mainstream
This was the author’s first published book, and it shows. The writing is not nearly as polished and luminous as in her later novels. Too long descriptions dominate the narrative, making it slow, and the constant reminders that the story will be a tragedy, that there is a murderer on the loose, that the heroine will be terrified… some time later in the novel… diminish the impact of the scary events, when they finally do happen.
The heroine’s motivations are also unclear. Why does she involve hers
This was a bit of an odd bird--the oldest yet of the Stewarts I'd read, I think, dating clear back to 1955. And this time around I really noticed it, more than with her other books. The thing that stood out most strongly for me in this thing was how many characters were smoking, and how often--the heroine especially seemed to do it a lot for comfort. Barely a scene went by without someone lighting up. Talk about your ways to date a novel, eh? Between that and the thing being set in the south of ...more
Feb 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Interesting variety of covers on the different editions. I do think I'd have read the book differently if I'd read it under a modern-looking cover. I'd probably have objected to all the drinking and smoking if I didn't realize what era it was from.

Well it was fun. I, personally, have never read anything like it before.* Even though I know nothing about the cars, the setting, the brand-names, etc., Stewart made me feel like I did, or at least that the understanding that I was getting from context
One of my all time favorites. Charity Selbourne is on vacation with her friend in Provence when she gets caught up into another family's crisis, which not only ruins her vacation but changes her life.
A Mary Stewart classic....she's a master at crafting heart-pounding car chase scenes! When I read her descriptive passages of nature and foreign settings, it is pure poetry. Really more of a 3.5 star, but it's Mary Stewart so I'll round up. Thornyhold is still my favorite.
Terri Lynn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is an old favorite that I haven't read in ages, but I'm happy to say it still holds up for me. Stewart's literate writing and vivid descriptions set the standard for romantic suspense. Who else but Stewart could maintain the suspense of a mad car chase through Provence while taking the time to make the countryside come alive?
But for the wind of our movement, the day was utterly still; under the pitiless sun of late morning the leaves of the planes that lined the road hung heavy, in thi
Dec 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance, suspense
One thing about a hideous day on public transport is that you can really get some reading done...
This was a re-read. I read and enjoyed all of Mary Stewart's books in my teens, but I think only once which is probably why my memory for them is so vague. I certainly did not remember anything about this one at all.
It was entertaining and as I found myself in the parts of France that I've come to associate with Kate Mosse I was very struck with the quality of the writing; beautiful, often poetic, wi
Nov 03, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
First, what I liked - the descriptions of France (Avignon, Marseilles, etc.) and the actual mystery. The scenery was appealing, and I actually believed the mystery.
Next, what drove me crazy - the hero literally chases the heroine around the South of France, and though she drives fast and makes some impressive feints along the way, he still finds her? Way too many coincidences to accept there (as in the antiques store...). Also, the characters in this book must have a deeply-rooted mistrust of th
Sherwood Smith
First read when I was thirteen. I just loved this book, with its painful glimpses into the horrors of World War II in the years immediately after, overlying medieval times, and the peeks at Avignon and far more ancient history, full of its own passions.

The car chase was thrilling because of the vivid descriptions of the south of France, but also it was the first time a woman had agency--she wasn't being rescued, or frightened, she was behind the wheel metaphorically as well as physically.

I also
Jul 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I was in high school, I discovered these Gothic romances, and they sustained me for several years. After plowing through the ones that were already published, I watched for each new book to arrive. My 5 stars reflect how much I loved them when I was 15! Eventually, Mary Stewart turned to the Arthur saga, about which she wrote some captivating (and captivatingly long) novels, but they couldn't capture my soul like the romances did.
BJ Rose
One of my favorite Mary Stewart books. Charity Selbourne is a WW2 widow whose pilot husband taught her about car engines and gave her driving tips - this detail becomes very important as the story progresses. Charity befriends a young boy while on vacation in France, meets the boy's father, finds intrigue and a 2nd love. Charity's remembrances of her beloved Johnny and the realization that he prepared her for a possible life without him bring tears to the reader's eyes.
Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Okay, I'm stealing a friend (Carie)'s review because I think she says it perfectly:
"This was just fun. Takes place in 1950's. Suspense. Car chases. Mistaken Identities. Love at first sight. Charity, our heroine, holds her own. She is tough and lovely and saves the day. You can tell it was written in the 1950's: lots of smoking and innocence."

A wonderfully atmospheric mystery. Read all of Mary Stewart's books years ago and this mystery is still as engaging and entertaining the second time around. An author who can create an aura of cozy sinisterness so well.

Other reviewers have already alluded to the synopsis so no point in rehashing but this book has a wonderful location, France. A "comfort" book of a bygone time.
I have two big books that are a collection of Mary Stewart novels. It's these big books that first introduced me to Mary Stewart many years ago. I think I'm very fortunate that my earliest reading isn't the YA (mostly) crap that supposedly "speaks" to kids these days, but very well-written gothic thrillers/romantic-mystery-thrillers written pre-1970. Madam, Will You Talk? is one of those books that I return to again and again for the adventure of the story and the clarity of the writing. Opening ...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, 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
More about Mary Stewart...
“At breakfast!' said Louise in an awed voice. 'A man who can read poetry at breakfast would be capable of anything.” 8 likes
“Oh, hell." He landed beside me, soft-footed on the pine needles. "This is beginning to have all the elements of a farce, isn't it? Too many villains, and nothing to tie them up with.” 3 likes
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