Teaser Tuesday: My Mary Stewart Tribute Book
Now that The Lure of the Moonflower, aka Pink XII, is safely in the hands of my editor, I can finally get back to talking about my next book out: The Other Daughter, which appears July 21.
My agent likes to call The Other Daughter “1920s Revenge“. I think of it as my Mary Stewart tribute book.
I’ve been trying and trying to unpick just why The Other Daughter is Mary Stewart to me. There’s no exotic location (just London and Oxford); it’s set a good thirty years earlier than most of the Stewart books; and, although I initially began writing it in the first person, a la Stewart, it shifted quickly to third person and stayed that way.
There are a few obvious points. In homage to one of my favorite books of all time, Nine Coaches Waiting, I made my heroine, Rachel, a nursery governess employed in France (although Rachel’s employers aren’t homicidal, which does make a change). And the story is told only in Rachel’s viewpoint, the first time I’ve ever written a single viewpoint story.
In the end, though, what made me look to Mary Stewart while writing this book is that Mary Stewart specializes in ordinary, sensible human beings placed in extraordinary situations. Her heroines are all just so down to earth. Intrigue and mayhem may follow them around, but they face it all with calm good sense and a great deal of pluck– and that was exactly what I was trying to do with The Other Daughter: take an ordinary person and throw her into a bizarre turn of events. How often, after all, do you discover that your supposedly dead (and unimportant) father is really alive– and an earl? And that everything you knew about your life was, in fact, a lie?
Have you read Mary Stewart? Which is your favorite?
Stay tuned next week for an excerpt from The Other Daughter!
I’ve read her Merlin series. I was on quite a King Author kick in high school.
The first Mary Stewart I ever read was “Madam, Will You Talk?” after my mom prompted me to read her favorite author from high school. It will always have a special place in my heart, although “Nine Coaches” and “Airs Above the Ground” were exquisite.
I’ve read every single book she wrote. I think my favorite is Madam Will You Talk, followed closely by Nine Coaches Waiting. I agree with you that the lure is that they are about ordinary people who handle extraordinary circumstances so well that it gives you hope that you might be able to do the same.
I don’t know if you’ve ever read Helen MacInnes, but her books were much the same. They were espionage/spy novels set in the 20th century, but mostly about ordinary people dropped into extraordinary circumstances and handling themselves well.
Thanks for your books. My daughter (a history professor) turned me on to them and I’m enjoying all of them so much that I must tell you so. They’re interesting, witty, historically accurate and sometimes make me laugh out loud. Wonderful!
My college roommate just sent me a batch of Helen MacInnes and told me I must read them! And since you both say so….
Madam Will You talk … there’s one line in that fabulous book that’s stuck with me ever since I read it as a teenager, and that’s ” Where is my son,you beautiful bitch”(sic).
So, even though the heroine never tells us what she looks like, we know that she’s lovely.
Stewart’s glorious prose & wonderful ability to evoke a sense of place, makes it a book that I go back to time & time again .
I’ve only read the Arthurian books, but feel free to expand my already astronomical TBR list. 😉
I’m chiming in with My Brother Michael – gave me an abiding desire to visit Delphi – and I did. Also at the top of my Mary Stewart list: Nine Coaches Waiting, Gabriel Hounds and The Moonspinners. Never got into the Arthurian series , although did read the first. Isn’t it time for someone to digitized her works?
I have enjoyed so many of Mary Stewart’s books. The latest one I read is This Rough Magic, which I found in a dusty corner of a thrift store. It’s impossible to go wrong when you combine Mary Stewart’s signature heroine along with the beauty of Corfu and a Shakespearean-themed mystery.
Nine Coaches Waiting.
Wildfire at Midnight was the first I ever read, and I have a soft spot for it because of that. But I really love This Rough Magic. The Shakespeare references were such fun, and I find her descriptions of the scenery very relaxing. Until the life-threatening danger, of course. Mostly, I just really like Lucy’s guts. She’s all about the calm good sense and pluck.
@Theresa R … they’ve been digitised for the UK market (with some glorious 50’s/60’s style fashion plate covers).,because they were on offer last year & I splurged on the lot ! You need to start haranguing Amazon US to release them .
The first one I read was Airs Above the Ground, and I absolutely loved it. Also read The Crystal Cave which is so different. I can tell I need to read more.
Oh Betty – do read more…She wrote so many really good books. You’d love any of them!
Thanks, Lynne. I do have Nine Coaches Waiting, Rose Cottage, and the rest of the Merlin series. I’ll have to dig one out. There are just so many books recommended that I want to get to, and don’t have time to read them all right now. Have you read any of the Avalon series by Marion Zimmer Bradley? They were very good and quite a different take on the legend.
Can one have a favorite Mary Stewart? I don’t think that’s a possibility. The Merlin series was my favorite Arthurian retelling. But nothing beats Nine Coaches, Airs Above Ground, et al, and I love that The Other Daughter will give us a taste of the Stewart style. I can’t wait!
I don’t want to raise false hopes– I’m not sure it’s that Stewart-y stylistically. (The one who does the best Stewart read-alikes is Susanna Kearsley, particularly in her earlier books.) But Stewart– and particularly “Nine Coaches Waiting” and “The Ivy Tree”– was very much on my mind as I wrote it.
I’m pretty sure it will be good – if you had Stewart on your mind, it will seep through1
Nine Coaches Waiting, hands down.
I think the only one of her romantic suspense novels I haven’t read is MY BROTHER MICHAEL. I just recently read her last book ROSE COTTAGE for the first time. My special favorites are probably AIRS ABOVE THE GROUND and MADAM WILL YOU TALK.
My first Mary Stewart was “Moonspinners.” I grew up on the Haley Mills movie version (nothing like the book) and was quite surprised to discover later on, that it was a book. A great book too! Also love My Brother Michael and Nine Coaches Waiting.
I have most of my favorites on audio cassette, since they haven’t been released on CD that I know about, and I listen to them by a superb reader almost every year. Hearing those marvelous descriptions and spell-binding conversations in a British accent makes them come alive: Airs Above the Ground, The Moonspinners, My Brother Michael, The Ivy Tree, This Rough Magic, and Touch Not the Cat are all favorites.
And definitely Madam Will You Talk. I love the first person approach.
Oh, lucky you to have her books in audio! I have been looking for a long time for copies of Madam and Nine but they are just unobtainable. What would you take to make copies and send them to me?
You mean “The Orchid Affair” wasn’t a Mary Stewart tribute book? I swear there are many nods to “Nine Coaches Waiting” complete with a chess-loving “Monsieur Florimond”! I’m reading it now, but it’s a hardback and doesn’t have the wonderful ‘fun facts’ that the paperbacks have. So I googld to see if my suspicions were correct and found this thread, a little late!
Mary Stewart was one of my first favorite authors, thanks to “The Little Broomstick” which I read in 3rd grade, and introduced a ‘school for witches’ long before Harry Potter. She and M. M. Kaye are extraordinary in evoking other places in their writing to the extent that you feel transported to another time/place. My favorites are Touch Not the Cat, This Rough Magic, My Brother Michael, Airs Above the Ground and Nine Coaches Waiting (“It’s nice to have the horses”). Though since buying my first house, Thornyhold has moved up the list!