Today is Mary Stewart’s centenary: she was born on 17 September 1916.
I’d like to suggest that we fans raise a glass in memory of her, and in appreciation of her writing.
I don’t know what Mary Stewart liked to drink, or whether she drank alcohol at all, but I’ve taken a quick look at some of her books to see what her characters chose to drink. The list is, to my mind, surprisingly varied: Pernod, Cinzano, Armagnac, Dubonnet, Benedictine, vermouth, sherry, whisky, white wine, champagne, pink gin, ouzo, tsikouthia (raki), and nameless liqueurs. Non-alcoholic drinks include Vichy water, spring water, peppermint drink, tea, iced tea, lemon tea, coffee…
Her vermouth was brought, and she tilted it to the light with a contented sigh. ‘L’heure de l’apertif. What a civilized institution.’ (Louise in Madam, Will You Talk?)
‘Look, I brought us both a drink, Marcia.’ ‘Oh, you angel.’ She took the glass and drank a generous mouthful. ‘My God, I needed that’ (Gianetta and Marcia in Wildfire at Midnight)
And, from Nine Coaches Waiting:
‘And there’s our toast,’ said Raoul, lifting his glass so that the firelight spun and spangled up through its million bubbles. ‘Stand up… click your glass with mine’
So, choose a drink, stand up, and click your glass with mine: here’s to Mary Stewart and her magical writing.