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4.3 out of 5 stars27
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 8 December 2002
If you are a diehard Mary Stewart fan you will buy this book whatever reviewers say. I did, after all! But it does not rank along with her more suspenseful novels of her "thriller" periods, or alongside her "magical romance" books. It also lacks the maturity of her Arthurian and period novels. So what do we have here? A pleasant and undemanding little book; I might have thought it a first novel. Did the manuscript perhaps sit around for years before being dusted off and tidied up for publication? As I say, if you are a fan you will buy it anyway - but if you are a newcomer to the author, please start with some of her other books first!
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This is a mildly suspenseful, atmospheric novel about a young, war widow, Kate Herrick, who in 1947 at the request of her ill grandmother in Scotland goes to Rose Cottage, her childhood home in the English countryside. Kate is to retrieve some of her grandmother's documents and personal belongings. When she gets there, however, she discovers that she is too late. Someone has been there before her.
As Kate investigates the mysterious disappearance of her grandmother's property, she ends up discovering somethings about her own past. Well written and redolent of a bygone era, the book unravels a pleasant, uncomplicated story. Never too mysterious and not one of the author's best efforts, the book is a predictable, though somewhat enjoyable, read.
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VINE VOICEon 4 October 2014
This I think is not what you normally expect from Mary Stewart, there is not much of the 'other worldly' element to it, nor is it anyway a runaway suspenseful mystery. It is simply a story of Rose Cottage and it's inhabitants as well as the estate where it is located and the village where it all happens.

Kate, returns to Rose Cottage at her grandmother's behest to retrieve family papers and small treasures before the cottage is renovated and reused as part of the estate's future. Kate remembers living their with her mother and grandmother and it being a happy home, despite not knowing her father.

When Kate's Great Aunt Betsy moves in the place changes and it is not as rosy as life could be for a small child. Even more so, when her mother runs off with a gipsy and never returns. The only news that she has died in a bus accident some years later.

Back at her childhood cottage with her childhood friends around her, Kate begins the task she set out to do, retrieve the papers but it seems that someone has got there before her.

Despite the cottage being emptied since Kate's grandmother left, it appears to have been occupied somehow. There have been lights seen. The garden has been dug in places. And a mysterious figure or two has been spotted.

It all seems rather strange and ghostly, but this does not stop Kate facing these ghosts and staying at Rose Cottage to see her task through to the end. Kate finds out a lot about her family through the secrets that Rose Cottage seems to be holding and along with the premonitions from the local witch, and some interfering village gossips, it seems that perhaps it is not all that mysterious and very straightforward.

This was a nice gentle novel. It reflected the lies that are told within families, to either protect them from the past or even the future. Mary Stewart creates an atmosphere with her novels but describing the landscape in detail as well as the life of a little village, where despite a war and a marriage Kate seems to be still known to many. Especially a local lad who she grew up with, but has never ventured very far from his home.

An ideal novel, for a cosy afternoon and if in a cottage then even better.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 October 2013
Kate Herrick is a young war-widow who is trying to rebuild her life in London. She is emotionally scarred by the recent loss of her husband in a flying mission over France, but even more so by her illegitimate birth and the disappearance and subsequent death of her young mother who ran away when Kate was only five. Kate's ailing grandmother, who raised her and is her only surviving relative, asks her to travel to the modest house where she was born, Rose Cottage, to retrieve some family papers and valuables from a small safe hidden under wallpaper. Kate's return to her childhood haunts triggers a wave of gossip and speculation in the village as well as ghostly visions by the local "seer".

A gentle exploration of friendship, home-coming and forgiveness, this is Lady Stewart's last novel, published when she was 81 years old. It is, as usual, very well-written, evocative and full of engaging characters, as well as some who are downright nasty, but the style is quite different from her earlier, action-driven stories and there is a distinct lack of the familiar suspense-romance combo that makes her previous novels so compelling. I liked the story for its heart-warming depiction of life in a small community where it is impossible to keep a secret, and for its strong portrayal of the two main female characters. This is a mature, contemplative and somewhat nostalgic look at Britain in the aftermath of the devastation wrecked by WWII but the slow pace and lack of romantic content and fast action may disappoint those who enjoyed her earlier novels.
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on 22 May 2012
Mary Stewart fans will notice that this is a different kind of book from this author. And yes, as other reviewers have said, it does lack the edge of the seat tension that her usual novels deliver. However the main character, Kate, is one of her best creations. She's more real than the normal M.S. heroine and I found it took no time for me to become hooked on the story and care deeply about what happened to her.

I won't bother relating the story since good resumes have already been given. I can't say any more than the previous reviewers have said about the plot without giving away too much. Just read and enjoy this book. Readers who have already read Thornyhold will find a very similar kind of book in this one, although it lacks the surrealism on Thornyhold.
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This is a mildly suspenseful, atmospheric novel about a young, war widow, Kate Herrick, who in 1947 at the request of her ill grandmother in Scotland goes to Rose Cottage, her childhood home in the English countryside. Kate is to retrieve some of her grandmother's documents and personal belongings. When she gets there, however, she discovers that she is too late. Someone has been there before her.
As Kate investigates the mysterious disappearance of her grandmother's property, she ends up discovering some things about her own past. Well written and redolent of a bygone era, the book unravels a pleasant, uncomplicated story. Never too mysterious and not one of the author's best efforts, the book is a predictable, though somewhat enjoyable, read.
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on 9 May 2014
Love Mary Stewart's books, especially her modern classic selection. This book continues the excellent series so far. I have a number of her modern classic books.
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on 1 April 2015
A very well written novel. Basically a romance but with humour and in a literary style. Returning to her roots, now a wealthy young war widow, the main character reconnects with her roots, more so than she could have anticipated! This was written many decades ago and is set in the 1940s but the storyline still holds the attention.
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on 13 June 2016
sweet, charming, delightful, very slight plot, no great adventures, rather low-key and wistful, some minor mysteries, but no great upheavals or alarums...well written, well paced, though rather galloping towards the end...feels like a summing-up of a life...recommended!
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on 21 February 2015
A simple tale, yet with enough of a mystery in it to hold the reader. Delightful characterization. A truly warm story. Very enjoyable.
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