2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Engrossing romantic thriller,
This review is from: Thunder on the Right (Mary Stewart Modern Classic) (Paperback)
Jennifer Silver (22, blonde, beautiful and carefully brought up to meet and marry Mr. Conventionally Suitable) arrives in a small French village near the Spanish border to meet her cousin Gillian who, recently widowed, is planning to enter a convent. Gillian, orphaned as a child, lived with the Silver family during her teens and consequently the two girls are very close. At the convent, Jennifer is told that Gillian was recently involved in a car accident and has just died. Shocked and grief-stricken, Jenny cannot believe that her injured cousin would not even attempt to contact her and soon other odd circumstances arouse her suspicions and her enquiries lead her into a web of intrigue and danger. What follows is an engrossing and satisfying mystery that develops into a page-turner of a book.
The typical Mary Stewart heroine is young, very beautiful, strong-minded, courageous but feminine and ultimately happy to let her man take over ... Jennifer is all of those things but her sheltered upbringing has made her a little childish, and seemingly fragile. The story is really all about her growing up and how her placid, previously unchallenged character responds to extreme situations. However, this novel also features one of Stewart's most romantic male characters, a passionate and sensitive musician who is prepared to do whatever it takes to achieve his heart's desire. The villains are suitably evil but, because of the third-person narrative, we get to see them in all their complexities. Even the smaller incidental characters are beautifully drawn (Sister Maria Louisa, Celeste) and the descriptions of places and events are mesmerizing. The pacing follows Stewart's usual pattern: a sense of place is slowly developed, then clues and red herrings are introduced until the reader is properly confused and then the suspense builds in tandem with a formidable thunderstorm and we are swept along for a wild ride.
I had reservations about this book, having read that it is Lady Stewart's least favourite of her works, and she once judged it to be "overwritten" and "splurged with adjectives, all coloured purple". It was, in fact, the second she wrote (although published third) and it is obvious that she is still experimenting and searching for her writer's "voice", but to me this harsh self-criticism is totally unjustified. The plot is beautifully constructed and always interesting and her characteristic humour very much in evidence in how she gently mocks the scholarly fraternity with which she must have been very familiar in her real-life teaching and lecturing career. Classy and elegant, her prose is completely to my taste and, if there is the odd over-egging, it never really disrupts the flow of a very enjoyable tale. Ideal to take on holiday when you can indulge in long reading sessions. I could hardly put it down and am sure will be happy to read it again.