When the weather gets crisp and the sky begins to go gray at four, it makes me think– well, yes, of London, but also of the New York of twenty-odd years ago, the scarred dark woodwork and nubby blue chairs of my school’s library, and the books I read in those chairs: Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, Barbara Michaels, Dorothy Cannell, Elsie Lee. The combination of a certain type of weather and a certain type of book (ahem, Thornyhold, ahem) is like a time capsule, hurtling me right back to where I was when I first read them.
Nine Coaches Waiting is hard to categorize for me. In some ways, it’s the archetypal Gothic, with a governess heroine, first person narrator, and a chateau. But the chateau isn’t the least bit brooding, the Jane Eyre references are firmly tongue in cheek, and the narration is strongly common-sensical. It’s really more romantic suspense than pure Gothic, lacking most of the dark trappings. Either way, it’s one of my favorite books of all time and a constant re-read.
The Moon-Spinners belongs to what I think of as the Mary Stewart travelogue sub-category. Take heroine, place her in picturesque landscape (in this case, Crete), let skullduggery ensue. Of her Greece-set books, my favorite has always been My Brother Michael, so it’s been fun to rediscover The Moon-Spinners after a long gap.
What have you been reading this week? (And do you have a favorite Mary Stewart?)