Saturday, June 29, 2013

Book Review: Nine Coaches Waiting

While I was at school on Friday, I picked up a couple of books for some summer reading.  Two of the books are Mary Stewart suspense-romance novels written in the 1950's.  I've been meaning to pick up one of her books for a while since they appeared to be the historical fiction genre that I love to read.  Other than that, I knew only that the novels are set in Europe, another of my favs.  

I was a little busy with sewing on Friday, but I managed a few pages of Nine Coaches Waiting, and yesterday, I managed a few more pages.  I woke up at three this morning unable to sleep for over an hour, so I gave up and gave in to the book sitting on the sofa.  I am so glad I did since I finished the last page right after lunch (and took a cat nap during that time).  An easy read with a bit of suspense, allusion, and romance.....what more could a girl ask for?

2007 photo of Mary Stewart
Exposition--The Cinderella character, Belinda Martin, is the English governess to nine-year-old Comte Philippe de Valmy.  Having lived the last ten years in an English orphanage, Belinda would gladly forget the tragedy of her parents' tragic accident were it not for the fact that Philippe has suffered the same fate.  Only weeks into her new position, Linda begins to question the accidents that befall Philippe until Raoul de Valmy makes his appearance and sweeps her off her feet.  Although unable to separate the de Valmy's individual intentions, Linda first trusts the family then accuses them equally for the mystery she can not fathom.  

Jacket photo of Mary Stewart
What's to love--The characters, villainous, paralyzed Leon; his beautiful, negligent Madame; quiet, brooding Philippe; and handsome acerbic Raoul, are expertly drawn and handled by Stewart.  The Chateau Valmy, situated on the Lake Leman region of the French Alps, is atypical in that Stewart paints it in the post World War II setting of a castle suffering from want.  The de Valmy fortune all but lost, the castle in disrepair, the family separated, this is a Cinderella story with a twist or two.  Her descriptions of the Haute-Savoie plateau with its rolling hills, towering conifers, and crisp air are the epitome of exposition.  She leaves no detail out, so that those of us able to visit only through words sit alongside Madmemoiselle Martin in the silk-covered settees, climb the hills, smell the fir and taste the biscuits--all in one adventurous day. 

What's not to like--truly very little, but parts of the plot feel contrived and the overly zealous allusions to Cinderella do get tiring.  Otherwise, the pacing is only a little slower than a more current novel but spot-on for its time.  

Recommendation--read this one if you like suspense or romance!  However, just in case you need more motivation, here are two sites that may help.

fan page:


A note of interest about novelist Mary Stewart: born in 1916 and now 97, she is well and living in England.  She has published 23 novels (three for young adults) and one book of poetry.

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