Original date of publication: 1965
My edition: 2004 (Harper Torch)
Why I decided to read: I was in the mood to read more Mary Stewart
How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, April 2010
When Vanessa March is offered the chance to chaperone a teenage boy to Vienna, she nearly says no—until she sees her husband in a newsreel, filmed at the scene of a circus fire near Vienna. In addition, he's in the company of a very pretty blonde... Vanessa's travels to Vienna lead her in the way of the Spanish Riding School, circuses, and a mystery that brings mystery—as well as, of course, a touch of romance.
This is one of Stewart’s less romantic novels, mostly because the heroine is already married to the hero and you more or less know that they’ll end up together. There’s also a bit less suspense, though there’s a chase scene up on the battlements of the castle that’s written in classic Mary Stewart style. The mystery itself also isn’t all that compelling, as it’s been done many times before.
What I do love about Mary Stewart’s novels is the locations she chooses to set her novels in—and she does a pretty fine job of researching her settings, too. This book makes me want to book a flight to Vienna ASAP! Her descriptions of the “airs above the ground” are excellent, too. (Vanessa is a former veterinarian, so her interest in the horses of the story stems from that). The characters are all very well formed, though I thought that Tim was a little too mature for a seventeen-year-old! Nonetheless, this novel is a lot of fun—though if you’re new to Mary Stewart’s novels, I’d suggest starting with one of her others (Nine coaches Waiting and Madam, Will You Talk? come highly recommended by me).