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Review: The Ivy Tree, by Mary Stewart


Mary Grey finds herself in the north of England, working as a waitress, when one day she decides to go for a walk along Hadrian’s Wall. While there, Mary is accosted by Con Winslow, who mistakenly thinks she is Annabel, his cousin who disappeared to America eight years ago. He and his sister Lisa convince Mary to engage in a act of deception: to impersonate Annabel Winslow so that Con might inherit her grandfather’s estate, Whitescar.

It’s a short novel, and like Nine Coaches Waiting, The Ivy Tree is very plot-driven. Stewart’s novels are tinged with a bit of magic, and in most of them, she chooses to give her characters rather romantic names (Annabel, Connor, Crystal). On the surface, it’s a deliciously wonderful story of deception, but not all is as it appears.

The Ivy Tree is an emotionally-charged novel; and though Stewart doesn’t do very much in terms of character development, this book contains the right amount of romance, danger, suspense, and fantasy, with a little bit of Roman history sprinkled in. Stewart also does a great job of unfolding the mystery, such as there is, choosing not to give it all away until it’s almost too late. This is one of those stories where it isn’t until after you’ve learned the solution that you go back and think, “now why didn’t I figure that out?” And then you realize that all the clues were there all along. I’m very glad that Mary Stewart’s novels have been re-released; another of her novels, Thornyhold, is on my TBR pile.

Comments

Danielle said…
I read this last year and while I enjoyed it I only felt so-so about it. I might have been the character development as you're right all the other elements are there. I have Nine Coaches Waiting to read as well.
Liz said…
Mary Stewart was one of the first authors I read where I went from one to the next to the next. I re-read "Nine Coaches Waiting" while on vacation a few years ago and was amazed to find there were certain phrases I remembered pretty much exactly -- 30-plus years later. I do not recall the Ivy Tree, so I think I'll pick it up. Currently reading a book critical of the role of the press in the Obama election (it has "slobbering" in the title -- which I confess I can't recall as it's really long -- so you can guess the author thinks the press abdicated!) That's my non-fiction read at the moment. For fiction, I just finished "Flying Into the Sun." It's got spiritual growth, adapting to what life throws at you, even if it's not what you suspect and, naturally, romance! A fun book. And I think it's fun that the author used to be a hairdresser to the stars in Hollywood!

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2015 Reading

January
1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

February
1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

March
1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
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