When Jennifer goes to France to meet her cousin, she finds that the cousin has died mysteriously at a convent without ever mentioning that she had relatives… and after admiring blue flowers when she has that rare condition, blue-yellow colorblindness!

This starts off with great fun and energy, then dissolves into uninteresting running and fighting with interludes of objectionable gender issues. I was put off by Stephen, a veteran and genius composer. The more the author praises him, the less the reader, or at least this reader, likes him.

He condescends to Jennifer and is totally useless and actively unhelpful in her quest to help her learn the truth about her cousin. When she desperately begs him for help, he agrees and then gets beaten up by the bad guy—which makes Jennifer realize that he is a supremely civilized man to whom violence is repugnant and that makes him totally awesome, and she was a stupid little girl to imagine that he could save her cousin by means of bad-assery because knights are imaginary and this is the real world. He proceeds to save the day. Oh, and a rapist (not Stephen) turns out to be kind of a cool guy.

I think this is the only one of Stewart's Gothics that's in third person rather than first. Despite the presence of potentially amusingly over the top elements like evil nuns, there's a general sense of going through the motions.

Not recommended. Thunder on the Right

Click the author tag to find my reviews of better books by Mary Stewart. These are my favorites, which I am pleased to see are all still in print:

Madam, Will You Talk?. The hero is a jerk, but the writing is wonderfully witty and distinctive. The plot is a farrago of exciting chases through beautifully described countryside, interspersed with banter.

The Ivy Tree. One of my very favorite tales of impersonation, which is a favorite trope of mine.

Nine Coaches Waiting. A perfectly Gothic Gothic, well-written and pleasing.

And, of course, there's her Arthurian novels, beginning with The Crystal Cave (The Arthurian Saga, Book 1)

Speak to me of your favorite (and least favorite) Stewart novels. I think the ones I haven't read yet are Wildfire at Midnight, This Rough Magic, The Wind off the Small Isles, Stormy Petrel, Rose Cottage, and her children's books.
When Jennifer goes to France to meet her cousin, she finds that the cousin has died mysteriously at a convent without ever mentioning that she had relatives… and after admiring blue flowers when she has that rare condition, blue-yellow colorblindness!

This starts off with great fun and energy, then dissolves into uninteresting running and fighting with interludes of objectionable gender issues. I was put off by Stephen, a veteran and genius composer. The more the author praises him, the less the reader, or at least this reader, likes him.

He condescends to Jennifer and is totally useless and actively unhelpful in her quest to help her learn the truth about her cousin. When she desperately begs him for help, he agrees and then gets beaten up by the bad guy—which makes Jennifer realize that he is a supremely civilized man to whom violence is repugnant and that makes him totally awesome, and she was a stupid little girl to imagine that he could save her cousin by means of bad-assery because knights are imaginary and this is the real world. He proceeds to save the day. Oh, and a rapist (not Stephen) turns out to be kind of a cool guy.

I think this is the only one of Stewart's Gothics that's in third person rather than first. Despite the presence of potentially amusingly over the top elements like evil nuns, there's a general sense of going through the motions.

Not recommended. Thunder on the Right

Click the author tag to find my reviews of better books by Mary Stewart. These are my favorites, which I am pleased to see are all still in print:

Madam, Will You Talk?. The hero is a jerk, but the writing is wonderfully witty and distinctive. The plot is a farrago of exciting chases through beautifully described countryside, interspersed with banter.

The Ivy Tree. One of my very favorite tales of impersonation, which is a favorite trope of mine.

Nine Coaches Waiting. A perfectly Gothic Gothic, well-written and pleasing.

And, of course, there's her Arthurian novels, beginning with The Crystal Cave (The Arthurian Saga, Book 1)

Speak to me of your favorite (and least favorite) Stewart novels. I think the ones I haven't read yet are Wildfire at Midnight, This Rough Magic, The Wind off the Small Isles, Stormy Petrel, Rose Cottage, and her children's books.
It turns out that I have two that I haven't read yet, Thunder on the Right and The Ivy Tree. Which is better and/or more cracktastic?

PS. [livejournal.com profile] telophase, are you familiar with the Gothic genre? If so, do you like it, hate it, and/or enjoy MST3King it?
It turns out that I have two that I haven't read yet, Thunder on the Right and The Ivy Tree. Which is better and/or more cracktastic?

PS. [livejournal.com profile] telophase, are you familiar with the Gothic genre? If so, do you like it, hate it, and/or enjoy MST3King it?
I spent the day in the juror room. No one was called for seven hours. After a while, it looked like an airport when all the flights are snowed in. People were doing crossword puzzles and sleeping on the floor. They had a little library, which contained a nice hardcover edition of Georgette Heyer's rare and excellent Cotillion, which I do own but was still tempted to steal. However, given the location, I decided it was too risky. Also a very handsome and not terribly old judge had earlier come in and very charmingly lectured us on our civic duty (he reminded me of the Flying Congressman, only not sleazy and evil. And blonde.) and I felt guilty.

I got as far as being called into a courtroom and told about a case, and sat in the audience while eighteen of us prospective jurors were put through voire dire. Given that only two were dismissed so far and there are still about fifteen of us left who haven't even been questioned, I am very unlikely to get on the jury, but I still have to go back tomorrow. If I get dismissed then, I'm off the hook for the next year. (Actually, I've always wanted to be on a jury. It's just not very convenient right now.)

I brought Downbelow Station, but Cherryh, or anyway that Cherryh, is too dense to read when you're in a freezing room with a hundred people and a TV set. But I did finish several New Yorkers and two books. I enjoyed both books, but I have a mouth and I must snark (plus I am totally fried from a full day of civic duty-- I got off jury duty and immediately voted), so...

Mary Stewart's The Gabriel Hounds in Fifteen Minutes:

Heroine: While I'm in Lebanon, I think I shall visit my crazy old aunt Harriet, who has modeled herself on Lady Hester Stanhope.

Sinisterly Handsome Young White Man at Lady Harriet's Exotically Crumbling Estate: Eek! You're a relative of hers? Uh... she hardly ever sees anyone... totally a recluse... I mean, no one but me and her two sinister Arab servants and sinister missing doctor have seen her in months and months... Say, you haven't seen her in years and years, right? Like, you don't even remember what she looks like?

Heroine: Not a bit! But if you don't let me see her, I'm calling the cops.

Sinister: Oh goodie! Well, in that case I believe she'd love to see you. Of course, she only entertains visitors in dark and shadowy rooms at night. Yep-- eccentric! Just gimme a few hours to find and make up an imposter let her wake up.

Heroine: Okay!

Hot Lebanese Chauffeur: This seems fishy. By the way, did you notice that he's stoned?

Heroine: Uh, what?

Hot But Sadly Ill-Informed Lebanese Chauffeur: Yep! Marijuana is a gray plant whose flowers may be smoked to induce a hallucinogenic high. It's bad stuff and can totally ruin your life, but luckily you're not likely to get addicted if, for instance, Sinister drugs you with it as part of his evil plot. By the way, for later plot reasons you should know that there is an enormous drug trade. Did I mention that I'm hot?

Heroine: Sorry, but I am in love with my cousin.

Kissing Cousin: This seems fishy. I have a theory about what's going on.

Heroine: Yeah? What?

Kissing Cousin: I'm not gonna tell you.

Marijuana is fun! )

Laura Kinsale's Uncertain Magic in Fifteen Minutes:

Heroine: I am telepathic in 1797 Yorkshire and every woman in my family with that cursed gift has died as a wretched old hag, because no man can bear to be around a woman who can read his mind. Woe!

Faelan Savigar, the Devil Earl who also happens to be immune to telepathy: Yo.

Heroine: QUICK, MARRY ME!

Devil Earl: I am a bad, bad, horrible person. I ruin women for fun, I dissect cats, and did I mention that I murdered my father when I was ten?

Heroine: o.O. ...I don't believe you. I think.

Devil Earl: Here's one of my wretched ruined women!

Heroine: I HATE YOU!

Devil Earl: WELL, I HATE YOU FOR HATING ME!

Heroine and Devil Earl: Dude. We're kind of well-matched, aren't we?

Devil Earl: You thought the plot was on crack before? Let me take you to my ancestral home in Ireland!

Ancient Telepathic Blind Family Retainer: Hello Robert Post's child. Only you can save the Devil Earl, so you better get cracking.

Heroine: Uh, what am I supposed to do?

Ancient Telepathic Blind Family Retainer: ...Not sayin'.

Heroine and Devil Earl's Mutual Buddy: I'm starting a rebellion!

Fae Folk: Hello!

Redcoats: Down with the rebels!

And then a plot twist ensues )
I spent the day in the juror room. No one was called for seven hours. After a while, it looked like an airport when all the flights are snowed in. People were doing crossword puzzles and sleeping on the floor. They had a little library, which contained a nice hardcover edition of Georgette Heyer's rare and excellent Cotillion, which I do own but was still tempted to steal. However, given the location, I decided it was too risky. Also a very handsome and not terribly old judge had earlier come in and very charmingly lectured us on our civic duty (he reminded me of the Flying Congressman, only not sleazy and evil. And blonde.) and I felt guilty.

I got as far as being called into a courtroom and told about a case, and sat in the audience while eighteen of us prospective jurors were put through voire dire. Given that only two were dismissed so far and there are still about fifteen of us left who haven't even been questioned, I am very unlikely to get on the jury, but I still have to go back tomorrow. If I get dismissed then, I'm off the hook for the next year. (Actually, I've always wanted to be on a jury. It's just not very convenient right now.)

I brought Downbelow Station, but Cherryh, or anyway that Cherryh, is too dense to read when you're in a freezing room with a hundred people and a TV set. But I did finish several New Yorkers and two books. I enjoyed both books, but I have a mouth and I must snark (plus I am totally fried from a full day of civic duty-- I got off jury duty and immediately voted), so...

Mary Stewart's The Gabriel Hounds in Fifteen Minutes:

Heroine: While I'm in Lebanon, I think I shall visit my crazy old aunt Harriet, who has modeled herself on Lady Hester Stanhope.

Sinisterly Handsome Young White Man at Lady Harriet's Exotically Crumbling Estate: Eek! You're a relative of hers? Uh... she hardly ever sees anyone... totally a recluse... I mean, no one but me and her two sinister Arab servants and sinister missing doctor have seen her in months and months... Say, you haven't seen her in years and years, right? Like, you don't even remember what she looks like?

Heroine: Not a bit! But if you don't let me see her, I'm calling the cops.

Sinister: Oh goodie! Well, in that case I believe she'd love to see you. Of course, she only entertains visitors in dark and shadowy rooms at night. Yep-- eccentric! Just gimme a few hours to find and make up an imposter let her wake up.

Heroine: Okay!

Hot Lebanese Chauffeur: This seems fishy. By the way, did you notice that he's stoned?

Heroine: Uh, what?

Hot But Sadly Ill-Informed Lebanese Chauffeur: Yep! Marijuana is a gray plant whose flowers may be smoked to induce a hallucinogenic high. It's bad stuff and can totally ruin your life, but luckily you're not likely to get addicted if, for instance, Sinister drugs you with it as part of his evil plot. By the way, for later plot reasons you should know that there is an enormous drug trade. Did I mention that I'm hot?

Heroine: Sorry, but I am in love with my cousin.

Kissing Cousin: This seems fishy. I have a theory about what's going on.

Heroine: Yeah? What?

Kissing Cousin: I'm not gonna tell you.

Marijuana is fun! )

Laura Kinsale's Uncertain Magic in Fifteen Minutes:

Heroine: I am telepathic in 1797 Yorkshire and every woman in my family with that cursed gift has died as a wretched old hag, because no man can bear to be around a woman who can read his mind. Woe!

Faelan Savigar, the Devil Earl who also happens to be immune to telepathy: Yo.

Heroine: QUICK, MARRY ME!

Devil Earl: I am a bad, bad, horrible person. I ruin women for fun, I dissect cats, and did I mention that I murdered my father when I was ten?

Heroine: o.O. ...I don't believe you. I think.

Devil Earl: Here's one of my wretched ruined women!

Heroine: I HATE YOU!

Devil Earl: WELL, I HATE YOU FOR HATING ME!

Heroine and Devil Earl: Dude. We're kind of well-matched, aren't we?

Devil Earl: You thought the plot was on crack before? Let me take you to my ancestral home in Ireland!

Ancient Telepathic Blind Family Retainer: Hello Robert Post's child. Only you can save the Devil Earl, so you better get cracking.

Heroine: Uh, what am I supposed to do?

Ancient Telepathic Blind Family Retainer: ...Not sayin'.

Heroine and Devil Earl's Mutual Buddy: I'm starting a rebellion!

Fae Folk: Hello!

Redcoats: Down with the rebels!

And then a plot twist ensues )
This enjoyably over-the-top Gothic novel is so Gothic that I will italicize all the most Gothic elements of the plot.

Linda Martin, an orphaned young Englishwoman, is engaged as a governess for nine-year-old Phillippe, the child-heir of a huge brooding isolated hilltop chateau. Because she's supposed to teach him English, she does not mention that she speaks fluent French. This enables her to overhear sinister secrets. The head of the chateau looks like Lucifer, and is disabled due to a tragic and mysterious riding accident. His wife is cold, aristocratic, and has a heart condition for which she takes special medication. His dashing, handsome, yet possibly sinister son, Raoul, also an heir should Phillippe die, immediately becomes the possibly reciprocal object of the heroine's affections, although he just might be trying to kill her and/or Phillippe. A series of near-deadly accidents befall Phillippe. And then more Gothic stuff happens, but it's all spoilers from here on out. Lots of nicely-written French atmosphere, and although there's an annoying amount of "I love him! But I think he's trying to kill me! But I love him!", Linda is not a wuss.

When Lucifer calls Linda "Jane Eyre" I suspected Mary Stewart of commenting upon the genre, but it turned out that she was merely pointing out that she is aware of the genre. This is not a deconstruction of, parody of, or commentary on the Gothic genre, but merely a good example it.

View on Amazon: Nine Coaches Waiting

Other books by Stewart on my shelf: Madam, Will You Talk?" and The Gabriel Hounds.
This enjoyably over-the-top Gothic novel is so Gothic that I will italicize all the most Gothic elements of the plot.

Linda Martin, an orphaned young Englishwoman, is engaged as a governess for nine-year-old Phillippe, the child-heir of a huge brooding isolated hilltop chateau. Because she's supposed to teach him English, she does not mention that she speaks fluent French. This enables her to overhear sinister secrets. The head of the chateau looks like Lucifer, and is disabled due to a tragic and mysterious riding accident. His wife is cold, aristocratic, and has a heart condition for which she takes special medication. His dashing, handsome, yet possibly sinister son, Raoul, also an heir should Phillippe die, immediately becomes the possibly reciprocal object of the heroine's affections, although he just might be trying to kill her and/or Phillippe. A series of near-deadly accidents befall Phillippe. And then more Gothic stuff happens, but it's all spoilers from here on out. Lots of nicely-written French atmosphere, and although there's an annoying amount of "I love him! But I think he's trying to kill me! But I love him!", Linda is not a wuss.

When Lucifer calls Linda "Jane Eyre" I suspected Mary Stewart of commenting upon the genre, but it turned out that she was merely pointing out that she is aware of the genre. This is not a deconstruction of, parody of, or commentary on the Gothic genre, but merely a good example it.

Other books by Stewart on my shelf: Madam, Will You Talk?" and The Gabriel Hounds.
For a thriller about a woman who's had an anonymous telepathic lover her whole life without knowing which of three candidates it was, this was a surprisingly boring book.

So Bryony knows that her telepathic sweetie is one of her three cousins, because he often mentions things they did together back when they were all growing up together on Ashley Court, the decrepit yet beloved ancestral estate. He knows who she is, because she's the only girl. This story would have been more interesting if the telepaths didn't know each other's genders. It would have also been more interesting if Bryony had found it one-fifth as creepy as I did that her invisible boyfriend knew who she was but she didn't know who he was because he wouldn't tell her.

Actually, there's a lot of things that would have made this story more interesting. Like more atmosphere, more suspense, and more made of the telepathic bond. There's one excellent twist which, although I saw it before Bryony did, still took me by surprise when I did realize it. And her psychic friend turns out to have a reasonable-- well, fairly reasonable-- motive for keeping his identity secret, which was not soemthing I had expected. Still, pretty dull and routine. The title is the best part.

View on Amazon: Touch Not the Cat
For a thriller about a woman who's had an anonymous telepathic lover her whole life without knowing which of three candidates it was, this was a surprisingly boring book.

So Bryony knows that her telepathic sweetie is one of her three cousins, because he often mentions things they did together back when they were all growing up together on Ashley Court, the decrepit yet beloved ancestral estate. He knows who she is, because she's the only girl. This story would have been more interesting if the telepaths didn't know each other's genders. It would have also been more interesting if Bryony had found it one-fifth as creepy as I did that her invisible boyfriend knew who she was but she didn't know who he was because he wouldn't tell her.

Actually, there's a lot of things that would have made this story more interesting. Like more atmosphere, more suspense, and more made of the telepathic bond. There's one excellent twist which, although I saw it before Bryony did, still took me by surprise when I did realize it. And her psychic friend turns out to have a reasonable-- well, fairly reasonable-- motive for keeping his identity secret, which was not soemthing I had expected. Still, pretty dull and routine. The title is the best part.
rachelmanija: (Default)
( Jan. 5th, 2005 05:49 pm)
Midsummer Moon, by Laura Kinsale. Sounds like an alternate history about a woman inventer, and also possibly a romantic comedy? I hope so, as I really enjoy Kinsale's sense of humor even though it doesn't come up that often. Incidentally, the heroine and hero are Merlin Lambourne and Lord Ransom Falconer. Excellent!

The Game of Kings, by Dorothy Dunnett. I have already obtained the second book, Queen's Play, and am taking them to Japan in the hope that a nine hour plane ride will allow me sufficient time to plow through the totally opaque opening which I failed to get through when I had it out from the library, and then get to the good stuff.

Reforming Lord Ragsdale, by Carla Kelly. Regency romance, which sounds completely dreadful from the back cover and generic from the front, but I recall [livejournal.com profile] coffee_and_ink recommending Kelly, so I bet it's actually good. Unless I managed to get her only sucky book, which given how the rest of the week has been going seems totally likely.

Snare, by Katharine Kerr. Anthropological sf.

Stopping For A Spell, by Diana Wynne Jones. Three novelettes.

Touch Not the Cat, by Mary Stewart. A thriller where the heroine has been getting psychic messages from an unknown man for years. I think [livejournal.com profile] sartorias might have recommended this? I have mixed feelings about Stewart's romantic thrillers-- the few I've read have started out with a bang and then petered off, but I've read a few. Her style is quite gripping.

Kilmeny of the Orchard and A Tangled Web, by L. M. Montgomery, author of the Anne of Green Gables and Emily of new Moon books-- both touchstones from my childhood. I recently read The Blue Castle, about a woman who is diagnosed with a fatal illness and decides to defy her hideous family and live a little, and enjoyed it very much. Two twists at the end are entirely predictable, but the hero's secret-- no, his other secret-- is both surprising and gratifying. The romance is also very satisfying.

Kilmeny is about a mute woman and a substitute teacher. According to the back cover, the protagonist of A Tangled Web is a brown jug.
.

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