Mary Stewart

I even tried to arrange my holidays to take me to where the books were set. If that’s not pathetic, I don’t know what is. Although I have to admit to not having got to all that many places in the end. The Isle of Skye. (But I had plenty of plans!)

Mary Stewart, The Ivy Tree

When I mentioned Mary Stewart last week, some of your comments suggested that I’m not alone in (still) loving her books. And I happen to believe they suit the YA market perfectly. So it’s perfect that Hodder are re-issuing the whole lot, with new 1950s style covers which look good enough to eat.

They contacted me, because apparently I had commented on Mary Stewart online at some point. And they are right. I remember doing it, but not where or when. And as the nice people they are (they must be!) they said I could have anything I liked.

You know how with favourites you like a lot of things a lot? Well, that’s the case with Ms Stewart and me. In the past I even bought the same book more than once, although that was by mistake. I could have asked for every single book. But that would have been like eating all the cake; greedy and not good for you. So I asked for five books. My top five.

It was the Retired Children’s Librarian who introduced us. Once I was past the children’s classics, she must have felt the time had come for some romance and mystery in my life, and how right she was!

The men! They were absolutely perfect, and have spoiled me for any real men forever after. The settings! As I said, I wanted to visit every single one. No, maybe not. I always felt the one set in the Pyrenees felt a bit bleak. But the south of France and Greece and Vienna and England and…

Cuillin, Isle of Skye

I made it to Skye, as I said, although I never encountered any handsome ex-husbands or mad murderers. But it’s a sign of how well I memorised the whole lot, when I was looking at a map of Skye just last year (I forget why) I was so pleased to find the imaginary setting, and got all nostalgic.

Contrary to what I might pretend, I forget an awful lot from books. Not least the names of characters. But I remember an astonishing amount of my beloved Mary Stewarts, which is proof that they made a lasting impression. And whereas I quite liked the 1970s cover design, these new ones are delicious.

And when I daydream, I am nearly always a Mary Stewart heroine. Good quality heroines, they are.

17 responses to “Mary Stewart

  1. Bookwitch you can’t not say!!

    Which are your top five?


  2. Great news! Shall be very tempted… I remember I decided to do a geography project on Crete (well, not actually ON, sadly;( as a result of reading The Moonspinners – always meant to go, but never have. So far.

  3. Julie, I’m stringing you along. I will be bringing you the top five over the next five weeks. So you will have to continue calling in, I’m afraid.

    Linda, maybe we could do Crete together. I understand it’s warm there. Have no petticoat, however, and I recall it’s vital for when you meet your man.

    • YES! It’s a date for Crete – warm and dry, my ideal. I’ll bring a spare petticoat.

      • Do you know how one tears a petticoat into strips? It seems to be required action and I always feel that any petticoat worth having should withstand that kind of behaviour.
        I assume cotton will be best if it’s to take care of larger amounts of blood.

  4. I think you are absolutely right about Mary Stewart being ideal for the YA market particularly as from the dates in my copies, I was clearly in that age group when I first read them! Having said that, in the early 70’s the concept of YA books didn’t exist – I went straight from pony books to Mary Stewart and Jean Plaidy, although it is probably no surprise that my first Stewart was Airs Above The Ground and I was hooked from there on in!
    Having recently re-found my copies, I was delighted to realise that I still enjoy her books – she hasn’t really dated in a bad way at all!

  5. Yes, I really came up with that idea when considering what I read in my vampire deprived youth. Some of her heroines are if not very young, at least quite youthful. And what’s not to like about romance with a marvellous man among danger in an exotic setting? Actually, I could skip the danger. But you have to put up with things if you are to get your man.
    Airs Above the Ground is surely a ‘pony book’? Some ponies, but, you know.

  6. Ooh, yay – I LOVED Mary Stewart. My early favourite was ‘Madam, Will You Talk?’ – with the heroine who can drive like a racing driver!

  7. You can be my other twin, Kath. Watch this space!

  8. Oh, how I loved those books, which I too read as a YA — thrilled, thrilled that they’re being reissued for that market. “Nine Coaches Waiting” was probably my favorite.

  9. My first read of that had me worrying if it was just too Jane Eyre, but re-reading it I couldn’t find anything the matter with it at all.

  10. Thinking back, the only one of Mary Stewart’s books that I wasn’t really keen on was The Ivy Tree – don’t know why.
    I always loved Nine Coaches Waiting, Wildfire At Midnight and Madam Will You Talk and The Gabriel Hounds.
    Writing about them makes me want to rummage through the attic and find the missing ones!

  11. My dear, what are they doing in the attic? Not much, at a guess, and that is SO wrong.

    • You are so right, Bookwitch and be assured I have remedied the situation. Junior daughter is now working her way through them as an antidote to revision for AS Levels – since she is hoping to do French and Italian at uni and go on to be a translator, I live in hope that she will make it to Provence (and possibly invite her aged mother as well)

      • Ah, I misread that as avoiding revision, which would have been wrong, but also right. But antidote is fine.
        Wonder if Daughter here could be persuaded?

  12. Oh wow, this post is chock-a-block with awesome.

  13. Pingback: Revisiting Mary Stewart | Bookwitch

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