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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 19 July 2010
This is a book I read ages ago, and then picked up again the other day. By this time I'd forgotten what happened the first time around, and it had me gripped again. Good solid hero as ever, beautiful heroine who always comes back into her hotel after a suspenseful dangerous day to wash her face and slip into a new frock before going out for drinks with the hero, and in true Mary Stewart style, there is a massive storm for a really nerve wracking ending. It's not my favourite M.S. I must say (Airs above the Ground will take that for me) but its a really good read.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 July 2013
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.
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on 11 June 2016
charming, exciting, with an interesting plot, and a delightfully evil villainess, good secondary characters, a stalwart and brave hero, and an unusually (for stewart) naive and young heroine...her protagonists usually have more spunk, but this one does grow with the need for intrepitude, which is good to see...the physical setting is good, and adds two most comic geologists from cambridge, which apparently matters a lot to lady stewart...on the whole, a satisfying read, though not my favorite of her books...that is "airs above the ground", which i re-read regularly...but this is fine, a rousing adventure story, with murders and romance, in a great mountain area..good pacing, great language, reliable skills make for great entertainment...recommended!
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on 19 March 2012
A compelling story in Mary Stewart's inimical style. Definitely one for re-reading addicts like me.
She is a great loss to romantic fiction.
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on 28 July 2012
A recent birthday with accompanying amazon Gift Certificates means I now have all the Mary Stewart books except the Arthurian set. This is a very good feeling, so I am glad to have this one too even if I am unlikely to return to it as often as the others.
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on 7 May 2014
I first read Mary Stewart more than four decades ago, and she holds up well, especially when compared to some modern writers. If readers are looking for romantic suspense, they could hardly do better.
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on 2 December 2014
Loved it. Needed something (an escape, a thriller) that was not quite so graphic, and I got that with Mary Stewart. Slightly more old-fashioned, but nonetheless exciting and couldn't put it down.
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on 30 September 2013
Death in the family changes things and family connections are not always exactly as one remembers them, or perhaps passage of time adds its own twist.
An exciting adventure.
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on 4 October 2015
Whilst the plot was interesting and unraveling,I found the old fashioned dialogue (bearing in mind it was set in the 50s) was a bit naive and sickly.
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on 10 December 2013
Great storyline, 1950's style of wholesome romance and mystery. Mary Stewart never fails to come up with the goods in all her books.
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