Stewart, Mary Stewart, Mary

Stewart, Mary

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She's the First Author I Ever Became Loyal To

Mar 17, 2000
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Romantic Adventure, captivating, great characters and stories

Cons:I prefer the earlier works to the more recent stuff

I was first introduced to this author's books by a good friend of mine in High School. We were both interested in medieval and magical things, so she told me about Mary Stewart's (then) two books about Merlin:
The Crystal Cave (1970)
The Hollow Hills (1973)

After reading The Crystal Cave and falling madly in love with it for many reasons (listed in my review of that book specifically), my appetite for Stewart's work was voracious. I moved on to The Hollow Hills and was delighted to find that she bucked the tradition of 'bad sequel'. The second book in the Merlin series was just shy of meeting my excitement over the first.

With the 3rd Merlin book not coming out until 1979 (The Last Enchantment), and in hardback first, no doubt... beyond my budget, I turned to her other fiction.
In addition to those listed above, below are her novels (as best a list as I can provide... I think it's complete):
* Madam, Will You Talk? -- 1955
* Wildfire At Midnight -- 1956
* Thunder On The Right .-- 1957
* Nine Coaches Waiting -- 1958
* My Brother Michael -- 1959
* The Ivy Tree -- 1961
* The Moon-Spinners -- 1962
* This Rough Magic -- 1964
* Airs Above The Ground -- 1965
* The Gabriel Hounds -- 1967
The Wind Off The Small Islands -- 1968
The Little Broomstick -- 1971
Ludo And The Star Horse -- 1974
* Touch Not The Cat -- 1976
A Walk In Wolf Wood -- 1980
The Wicked Day 1983
(the 4th and last book of the Merlin series)
Thornyhold -- 1988
Stormy Petrel -- 1991
Rose Cottage -- 1997

* An asterisk indicates books I particularly enjoyed.

The thing that is bizarre about Stewart is that she's lumped in with Romance writers. I have nothing against romance novels, but after reader Stewart's books and coming to love them as much as I do, I tried to find others in that genre who sparked my interest as much.

I have been sorely disappointed. I tried the big names and some lesser-known names, never finding one-tenth the quality or interest as even Mary Stewart's worst novel.

Perhaps there's a category called Romance Adventure, or Adventurous Romance, or some such thing. If there is, this is most likely where she'd be (for my Steward faves, anyway). You see, most of her novels are set in foreign and often exotic locations and involve great adventure (not unlike Mrs. Polifax's adventures).

There is usually a love interest, but Ms. Stewart seems to refrain, for the most part, in bringing anything to a conclusion in that area. Instead, letting the characters discover one another and leave us with the supposition that once we've ended the novel and closed the pages, the two main protagonists will go on together without us and have a wonderful loving relationship. We've come to know them so well, we're assured of the success of that union.

As you can see by my asterisk placement, I preferred her earlier works. Those novels seem to contain more adventure and less stock romance-type writing.

A few of the books listed there are juvenile books: A Walk In Wolf Wood, The Little Broomstick, Ludo And The Star Horse, and I'm not sure about The Wind Off The Small Islands because I've not read it (I also found it listed as The Wind Off The Small Isles).

Since this is an overview of Mary Stewart and not a critique of any individual book, I won't go into more plot details, but let it be known if you like (lightweight) adventure with a touch of romance, I recommend trying this author.

I heard a rumor she is also known as "Florence Stewart", but I can't validate that.

Some of her books are pretty hard to find, while others can be found by the hundreds in used book stores (generally in paperback format) and quite cheap.

Unfortunately, there don't seem to be any decent (or any at all, for that matter) websites that list any information on this great author. Because of this, I am unable to give you any biographic info on her other than she's an English novelist born in 1916 (and still alive as far as I know).

Her writing is simple and she really gets into the details and descriptions of the settings for the protagonists' adventures so you end up not only learning a lot about foreign places, but you get a rich sense of "being there"... or at least picturing it well.

Great cozy stuff! Nothing to offend.

"Have you ever thought, when something dreadful happens, 'a moment ago things were not like this, let it be then, not now...'? And then you try to remake then, but you know you can't. So you try to hold the moment quite still and not let it move on..." M.S.

"It is harder to kill a whisper than even a shouted calumny." M.S.



Recommend this product? Yes


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