This is one of those books that I enjoy re-reading from time to time, in fact I have just bought it again in hard cover as my old paperback was in pieces.
In this era of portable phones and ever-present electronic communication, the concept of "thought transference" may sound tame and obsolete, but if one is prepared to be transported back to a simpler time (and, let's face it, for most of us fiction represents escapism), entering this novel's atmosphere will plunge the reader into a world at once disconcerting and curiously comforting.
The "gift" of the Ashleys provides an eerie recurring theme which runs through the story like a golden thread, and there is plenty of intrigue, dark deeds and greed-fuelled violence, however, the dominating element is romance. In this novel, Mary Stewart gives us an unashamedly romantic love story, in fact more than one, as there is a parallel subplot running alongside the main one. In fact, we are immediately made aware of the author's intent as the literary quotes that introduce each chapter are all taken from that quintessential celebration of love, "Romeo and Juliet". Several clichés are used to define some of the characters but the main players are richly nuanced and, as usual, we are never sure of who's who until the very end. The mystery here revolves around the last words of a dying man which seem to make no sense but, in time, provide the solution to many old secrets and also point the way forward for the heroine.
Lady Stewart really is a powerful narrator and many of the scenes, especially those taking place at night, stay with me as if I had watched a film, instead of reading a book. It's difficult to explain why but this story always leaves me with a warm glow.