Madam, want to talk about author Mary Stewart? discussion

Madam, Will You Talk?
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message 1: by Misfit, Moderator (new) - added it

Misfit | 587 comments For those who are finished, please feel free to discuss freely, but if you aren't using the spoiler tag, please uncheck the "add to my Update Feed" box so your comments don't go to the general feeds to avoid others accidentally reading your thoughts.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Oops! I hope my spoilers in the discussions aren't popping up all over the place! *sorry*


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My comments about the ending follow in the next post.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Well, like most of the book, I thought the ending was just a bit too improbable. Jean must have been Spiderman to hang on like he did. And, Stewart certainly made good use of cars in this story, even to bringing about the well-deserved end to the bad guys.

I did enjoy this very much, for what is was: a fast-paced story of suspense, with lots of atmosphere, love, and a sweet kid and his dog. Charity was brave, and tough, and I like Stewart's heroines for that reason. I do not know how she or Rommel (all these WW2 references) survived the car crash, but that's okay, too. The wrap-up was a bit underwhelming, but at least the explanation of the baddie's motivation was plausible. It would have been easier to kill both of them, right upfront, but where would the story be?


message 5: by Willow (last edited Jan 05, 2013 07:29PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Willow I love that Charity drives like Mario Andretti and scared the snot out of Paul! That was classic!

And I cannot believe the bad guys crashed into each other. Where did you guys learn how to drive? LOLOL!

This was a fun read, with way too many convenient plot twists, like Charity fainting, Paul showing up, and Richard seeing the bracelet. But I enjoyed it.


Tracey (stewartry) | 5 comments There was definitely far too much coincidence. I mean, I went to a fair with a group of people, we got split up, and it took two hours for one group to locate the other again on a forty-acre location - but Richard finds Charity over and over in France, with apparently no problem.

And the ending was a bit tidy. No more nasty trials for these folks - just kill 'em all off.

Did anyone else have trouble adapting to the reformation of Richard? He was SO evil, and SO scary, and then suddenly it's "Oh - sorry - misunderstanding! Let's smooch." The explanation was adequate - but the violence of the early scenes were hard to get past.


message 7: by Willow (last edited Jan 05, 2013 09:26PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Willow I certainly thought they fell in love rather fast. Richard was kind of brutal in the beginning, grabbing Charity’s wrist and calling her a bitch. Why did he automatically think she was in league with the bad guys? While I was reading, I kept thinking if this was a bodice ripper, Richard would be the hero, because that’s the way those books work. The hero is always the villain. But this was a mystery, so I had started to believe he was a legitimate bad guy. I suppose having your son abducted would make anyone crazy.


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Misfit | 587 comments My thoughts pretty much echo everyone else here. As much as I did like it, there were some things that were a bit pat. Still, an *off* Mary Stewart is heads above most other writers. She sure sets a good scene.


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If I hadn't read My Brother Michael first, I would probably be less impressed with Stewart's plotting.


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Misfit | 587 comments My Brother Michael is pretty awesome. I think you'd like The Moonspinners as well. Wildfire at Midnight was another one I liked a lot, pretty short book but she gets a lot of story packed into it.

I am glad to see all those smoking characters go away.


Joanne | 27 comments I agree with most, this wasn't Stewart's best -- however, I do intend to read as much of her backlist as I am able to find so I'm glad I can check MWYT off the list. I admire her talent for recreating exotic settings, her descriptions of nature, and she's pretty cool with the car chases! I enjoyed Nine Coaches Waiting (which has a similar plot device of an endangered child); however, for a change of pace and absolute poetic writing, try Thornyhold (I think Hannah will agree). It's a little gem and very different from Stewart's usual romantic suspense novels. Thanks everyone for your input and comments -- it was fun!


message 12: by Willow (last edited Jan 07, 2013 08:50PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Willow Joanne wrote: "I agree with most, this wasn't Stewart's best -- however, I do intend to read as much of her backlist as I am able to find so I'm glad I can check MWYT off the list. I admire her talent for recreat..."

Hey Joanne, thank you for the rec! I shall definitely put Thornyhold on my list. I want to read more of Stewart's books.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

I bought Thornyhold at a library sale last year -- I'm glad to hear it is a keeper!


message 14: by Hannah (last edited Jan 08, 2013 04:29PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hannah (hannahr) | 405 comments Joanne wrote: "I agree with most, this wasn't Stewart's best -- however, I do intend to read as much of her backlist as..."

Joanne and I are veritable cheerleaders for Thornyhold, but do be aware (as Joanne says), that Thornyhold is a different animal from Stewart's romantic suspense. Very little happens, the story is extremely hearth-and-homey, and it's best described as a comfort/cozy read. I adore it :)


Tracey (stewartry) | 5 comments That sounds wonderful. I don't think I've read Thornyhold either ... Well, shoot, I thought I had it at least.


Hannah (hannahr) | 405 comments Tracey wrote: "That sounds wonderful. I don't think I've read Thornyhold either ... Well, shoot, I thought I had it at least."

It's a dear little book. Stewart was in her late 70's or 80's when she wrote it. I feels like a love letter written about the past (as in England's post war past and Stewart's youthful past).


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I like cozy!


message 18: by Misfit, Moderator (new) - added it

Misfit | 587 comments Jeannette wrote: "I like cozy!"

So. Do. I.


Tracey (stewartry) | 5 comments I love a dear little book.


message 20: by Anne (new)

Anne (anniebeth) | 14 comments I think if I'd read MWYT first, I wouldn't have become so addicted to Mary Stewart. I think she was just finding her feet, so to speak, and it definitely wasn't as good as later books. Hard to choose a favourite among the thrillers, but of the cozies, Thornyhold is definitely the one. And I would take the Merlin trilogy with me on a desert island.


message 21: by Tracey (last edited Jan 09, 2013 12:41PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tracey (stewartry) | 5 comments I never have been able to get into the Merlin books (which is weird, since I'm both an Arthur buff and a Mary Stewart fan). Then again, it's been years since I tried; maybe it's time.


Hannah (hannahr) | 405 comments I read the Merlin books years and years ago, and enjoyed them alot. It's time for a re-read methinks!


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Misfit | 587 comments I read them in my teens and reread them about 4-5 years ago. They are good, but I have to spread time between anything Arthurian or I burn out. I will note I was disappointed that I purchased a reprint (all in one volume), and the typos were not fixed. Boo. Hiss.


Willow Mmm...now I'm thinking I need to check out her Merlin books too. I definitely will be reading Nine Coaches Waiting very soon. I have that book and I really did enjoy MWYT. :D


Hannah (hannahr) | 405 comments Willowfaerie wrote: "I definitely will be reading Nine Coaches Waiting very soon. I have that book and I really did enjoy MWYT. :D"

NCW is very good. I don't think you'll be disappointed in it, Willowfaerie.

I went through a big Arthurian phase in my teens, and Stewart's Merlin trilogy helped shape my love of the legend. That, along with Idylls of the King and The Mists of Avalon were some of my favorites.


Tracey (stewartry) | 5 comments Hannah wrote: "I went through a big Arthurian phase in my teens..."

Me too - only mine was mostly The Once and Future King and Gillian Bradshaw and Jane Yolen. I think it was the strong element of Mithras in the Merlin trilogy that threw me for a loop - I couldn't adapt.


message 27: by Virginia (last edited Jan 10, 2013 06:21AM) (new) - added it

Virginia (goodreadscomginny) | 16 comments Finally received my book and do not remember reading this one. I must read a little then read your comments before I can catch up.


Hannah (hannahr) | 405 comments Misfit wrote: "My thoughts pretty much echo everyone else here. As much as I did like it, there were some things that were a bit pat. Still, an *off* Mary Stewart is heads above most other writers. She sure sets ..."

Am I right in thinking this is her debut novel? If so, for being her first, it's certainly entertaining and wonderfully evocative. Agree that this book isn't as strong as some of her others, but as Misfit says, a bad Stewart is still better then some of the so-called "best" of today's offerings (at least I find it so).


Willow Virginia wrote: "Finally received my book and do not remember reading this one. I must read a little then read your comments before I can catch up."

Yay, that's great! I'm so happy you were able to join us, Virgina! :D


Willow Hannah wrote: "Am I right in thinking this is her debut novel? If so, for being her first, it's certainly entertaining and wonderfully evocative. Agree that this book isn't as strong as some of her others, but as Misfit says, a bad Stewart is still better then some of the so-called "best" of today's offerings (at least I find it so).

I'm definitely going to have to read more Stewart books. :D



Lorraine (saanichlori) | 31 comments Just finished this book last night. I've read it 4-5 times before, but much of the book I couldn't remember - especially the end on the cliff top. I did remember the car chase to Marseille but thought it was longer. I love Mary Stewart's writing and have most of her "adventure" novels, but since this is her first, I'd rate is on a lower scale from, say, My Brother Michael or This Rough Magic.

The descriptions of Avignon and Les Baux had me checking Google Maps and the Wikipedia to see where they were. On Google maps you can see the arena in Nimes very clearly - right in the centre of town.

The smoking in the book was funny too - I have to keep telling myself that it was published in 1955. How did we manage to grow up in that haze that was all around us?


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Misfit | 587 comments I can't comprehend going back to a world where smoking is so common and accepted. Nevada was always a problem for me because folks would light up everywhere. Bathrooms. Elevators. Hotel lobbies. Been a few years, so I don't know if it is still the same.

Mary Stewart sure can send you running to Wiki to look places up like no other author can.


Laura (laura_anne) | 21 comments Willowfaerie wrote: "And I cannot believe the bad guys crashed into each other. Where did you guys learn how to drive..."

That was a little too convenient. No trial to worry about and the good guys can walk away with no blood on their hands.


message 34: by Willow (last edited Jan 12, 2013 10:13PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Willow Laura wrote: "That was a little too convenient. No trial to worry about and the good guys can walk away with no blood on their hands."

Yes this is true. I actually laughed when I read it. I kept thinking of that car chase scene from The Pink Panther when they all wreck into each other.

http://youtu.be/WIJtaxHPrBY


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Misfit | 587 comments Lol.


SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 9 comments Anne wrote: "I think if I'd read MWYT first, I wouldn't have become so addicted to Mary Stewart. I think she was just finding her feet, so to speak, and it definitely wasn't as good as later books. Hard to cho..."

I am with you in the Merlin Trilogy. I do absolutely love those books. And both those books and her romantic suspense are well written but I think they also stand apart uniquely from each other in style.


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I think I could just about live with the insta-love in MWYT if it wasn't for the insta-marriage following right on its heels! I mean, "I'm madly attracted to you and have been chasing you all over Provence and now that we know we're on the same side let's make out a bit," fine. But there's no need to get married two weeks later, silly Charity!

Seriously, though, I do love this book. Mary Stewart is the best at making you feel like you're right there with the characters - there's one scene, when Charity gets to Marseilles and is hot and exhausted, and finds a hotel where she can have a bath and a nap, that made me feel like I, too, was hot and sweaty and dusty and finally cleaning up after a long drive, even though it was below freezing outside and I hadn't done anything but sit and read all day. She does the same thing in Airs Above the Ground, too - the way she describes an airplane taking off is just perfect.

I don't notice the smoking so much anymore, but the first time I read through Mary Stewart's books I remember being surprised when I got to one of her later books and people weren't lighting cigarettes all over the place!


Hannah (hannahr) | 405 comments Emily wrote: "...Seriously, though, I do love this book. Mary Stewart is the best at making you feel like you're right there with the characters - there's one scene, when Charity gets to Marseilles and is hot and exhausted, and finds a hotel where she can have a bath and a nap, that made me feel like I, too, was hot and sweaty and dusty and finally cleaning up after a long drive, even though it was below freezing outside and I hadn't done anything but sit and read all day..."

Well said, Emily. I think she's genius at doing this for her readers. One of the best I've ever found, in fact. If you're an armchair traveler more then a real-life one, I'd recommend Stewart every time.


message 39: by Shelley (new)

Shelley | 34 comments I've been following the posts and am loving all the discussion. Been too busy to do much more than that, but I so agree with all the things about her books that make them wonderful. The way she can put your right into a scene and you feel that you are there with the characters. And her descriptions are the best. MWYT is actually one of my favorites, (Next to This Rough Magic) probably because it was the first of her romantic suspense I read as a teenager. We had this old librarian who would always lead me to books I never heard of; she was usually spot on.


message 40: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 07, 2013 08:50PM) (new)

For the finish (This was a bump-up! I couldn't figure out why I posted this. lol)


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 271 comments Finished I loved it, even though coincidence was stretched to breaking point - especially the bracelet thing.

Also, David seemed younger & younger as the book went on. By the end he seemed like a nine year old!

I found the scene with Johnny's picture really touching. *blush* I'm quite smitten with Johnny.

With the instalove thing - I've just looked up her Wikipedia page - she & her husband only knew each other for 3 months before they married. So that was her reality.

I think I've mentioned before that my parents really only knew each other for 2 weeks. Very common with war time marriages.

For a first novel - amazing!


message 42: by HJ (new) - rated it 4 stars

HJ | 300 comments Yes, Johnny sounds lovely, and a hard act to follow.

Yes, MS says she and her husband both fell in love the moment they met, and they were happily married, so (as you say) that was her reality.


message 43: by Hana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hana | 316 comments What a wonderful insight into Mary Stewart--and wartime romance. Thank you Carol and HJ!

Johnny was something special and it says much for Charity that they were so happy together. I went a bit teary-eyed at the scene with Johnny's picture.

Johnny really was part of Charity. I suspect Richard fell in love with Charity's driving skills before he even knew her--her courage and cleverness was on splendid display during the first car chase--and that was her Johnny side.


message 44: by HJ (new) - rated it 4 stars

HJ | 300 comments Hana wrote: "I suspect Richard fell in love with Charity's driving skills before he even knew her--her courage and cleverness was on splendid display during the first car chase--and that was her Johnny side. ..."

That's a lovely insight. A wonderful legacy from Johnny.


message 45: by Jaima (last edited Mar 24, 2015 11:54AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jaima | 71 comments Thanks for the perspective Carol! Three months really raises eyebrows these days, but it's good to remember that wouldn't always have been remarkable. I think it puts the story in good context. But I love the way she does insta love. I buy it every time!
And Johnny was wonderfully done--that was part of her generation's reality too. Her handling of it is very sensitive and touching. I don't think anyone could resist the emotional tug there!


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 271 comments & I'll tell you my parents certainly skated over how little they knew each other before they married! They didn't want my sisters & me knowing & doing the same thing! :D


message 47: by HJ (new) - rated it 4 stars

HJ | 300 comments ***Carol*** wrote: "& I'll tell you my parents certainly skated over how little they knew each other before they married! They didn't want my sisters & me knowing & doing the same thing! :D"

And did you??


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 271 comments No my husband & I knew each other for 7 years before we married.

I wouldn't describe my parents' marriage as blissfully happy though - although they had a happy retirement together. My Dad's war experiences would have changed him from the young officer Mum met in Canada.


message 49: by HJ (new) - rated it 4 stars

HJ | 300 comments I suspect that was the problem with many of the war marriages, that the war itself significantly changed both the men and the women.


Susan in Perthshire (susanageofaquarius) | 200 comments Okay, I got hooked into the speculation about when the book is set. We know Charity is 28; that she taught French before she married Johnny; and they had 2 years together before he died in the war. So as he died no later than 1945, they must have married no later than 1943. On the basis that she did French at University and then got a job teaching French (you could do that without a teaching qualification at that time), and that perhaps she only taught for a few months before marrying Johnny - she must have been at least 21 when they married, so she must have been born by 1922. That means a probable dating of 1950 for the book., but of course it could be earlier. Which means they are still very much in the aftermath of a bleak post war era and it explains so much about the behaviour and attitudes - including the smoking which of course was a normal feature of life at that time. I am amazed at how good this first novel by MS is. I really like Charity - she is in the mould of MS other sparky, clever, educated, interesting heroines who actually do a great job of standing up for themselves and being pretty adult about everything and still charming to boot. I will never get used to the nylon nighties but my Mum used to wear them - so they were certainly seen as the ‘coming thing’!


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