Mary Stewart was a favorite author of mine in my younger days. And recently I've been delving back into her quite extensive works. I'm beginning with the romantic suspense -- partly in the spirit of wondering how they hold up -- I mean, young women in peril and a hero who always appears at just the right moment . . .
I couldn't resist showing these two covers for the same book. I'm pretty sure the long gown and billowing cloak in the first isn't accurate. Might as well have had her clutching a candelabrum with all the candles aflame. The girl on the second cover is a far better representation of the typical Stewart heroine -- young, attractive, adventurous, intelligent, and very much of her time. (I wonder if these books would appeal to the current crop of young women? Probably not -- far too innocent.)
The books I remember best are from the Fifties and Sixties, though Stewart's books were still coming out in the Nineties.
Her Arthurian books, a very different and wonderful kettle of fish, came out in the Seventies and I'll get to them when I've had enough of plucky girls in distress.
The thing I'm finding is that, in spite of the sometimes hackneyed setups, the plots are devious and fascinating, the heroines are charming and independent, taking matters into their own capable hands and not depending on the timely arrival of the hero. Stewart is, indeed, credited with doing away with the hapless, helpless damsel in distress by making all her heroines intelligent.
But even if all her heroines were wimps (they're not) and all her plots totally predictable (they're not,) it would still be worth reading Stewart for her absolutely glorious descriptions of places. And what places! Provence, the Isle of Skye, a French chateau, a convent in the French Pyrenees, Greece, Northumberland, Crete, Corfu, Austria, Damascus . . .
I'll be in one of these place for the next little while -- cheering for the plucky girl.
Do any of you remember the Mary Stewart books? If so, did you have a favorite? There are many more I haven't shown -- The Ivy Tree, The Gabriel Hounds, Thornycroft, The Stormy Petrel . . .
Yesterday I attended a memorial service for one of the old timers of our 'new people' community. Jane and her husband moved here about the time John and I did and established a pottery in a little cove up a road steeper and rockier than ours. She was an artist in everything she did, from porcelain bowls to jewelry to gardens to an exuberant yellow chicken house painted with twining flowers.
At the service I found myself looking around, realizing how many friends from those early days are no longer with us.
But most have left their mark -- in the form of children, grandchildren, and even -- in Jane's case -- great- grandchildren still living in the area and still embodying the hopeful, creative spirit that we early transplants waved like a banner.
As I listened to folks share their memories of Jane, I remembered being at a friend's house (up that awful rocky road.)
"Some new folks just moved in to that awful old house above us at the end of the road. She's pregnant and when I went up to visit, there she was, painting a little room for a nursery and just singing with happiness."
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I'm the author of The Elizabeth Goodweather Full Circle Farm Appalachian Mysteries from Bantam Dell. The series includes SIGNS IN THE BLOOD (LA MONTAGNE DES SECRETS in France), ART'S BLOOD, (LE SECRET DES APPALACHES in France,) OLD WOUNDS,IN A DARK SEASON (Anthony Nominee, Best PBO), and UNDER THE SKIN. There's also THE DAY OF SMALL THINGS (a spinoff/standalone)chronicling the unexpected life story of Miss Birdie, one of Elizabeth's neighbors.
Currently I have just completed a historical novel, dealing with a massacre in my county during the Civil War.
I came to this weird business late (my first novel was published in 2005) and am still trying to figure it out.
As my novels are set in a place much like my real life home, I thought I'd use this blog to share pictures of our farm and county. I've been blogging for nearly nine years now, on an almost daily basis, and the topics have ranged from writing, chickens, food, books, quilts, flora and fauna of all sorts, to the occasional tiny rant. There's no plan, but there are lots of pictures.
There's more information about me and my books on my web site: http://vickilanemysteries.com/