Hello all, and a happy #WorldBookNight! #ReadingHour has just finished here in the UK and I wonder whether any of you managed to grab the opportunity to sit down with a good book for an hour?

As I wrote in my post Looking Forward to World Book Night, I wanted to read Mary Stewart but hadn’t decided which one to go for. My choice was… Breed of Tigers.

Never heard of this Mary Stewart title? That’s because it is the magazine renaming of Nine Coaches Waiting when the novel was serialised in Woman, a British weekly magazine, in 1958. What do you think of the title change? I think it was probably sensible to change the name since the serialisation omitted the chapter-heading quotes from ‘The Revenger’s Tragedy’, and tigers are certainly suggestive of restlessness and danger. It was lovely to settle down to read this old magazine, and as you can see in the photo below I made my Reading Hour as perfect as possible by having our cat – [Dame Agatha] Christie – to snuggle next to, plus I had a nice big mug* of camomile tea.

Getting ready for World Book Night’s Reading Hour

I thoroughly enjoyed my re-read of Nine Coaches Waiting/Breed of Tigers and I will read some more after this blog post. The story is just so well done, written so marvellously and suspensefully. I was a little confused at first by the differences between book and serialisation (for example, in Breed of Tigers, Linda flies straight to Geneva, missing out Paris and the Rue du Printemps etc, and has not been in France for seven years rather than nine – the first of these changes would have been to shorten the story but I wonder what was the thinking behind making Linda younger?) but I was still able to immerse myself joyfully in the magazine version. The icing on the cake is this striking illustration by K J Petts (Kenneth John Petts, 1907-1992): isn’t it stunning! Linda looks amazing in her 1950s outfit.

Illustration by KJ Petts of Breed of Tigers in Woman magazine
Illustration in Woman magazine by K J Petts

I hope you have liked this glimpse of Breed of Tigers. Please do let me know if you took part in any World Book Night activities, and especially if you read any Mary Stewart during Reading Hour.

*The mug is one I bought from Mahla Bess, who illustrated the programme for last summer’s BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of Madam, Will You Talk? I liked Mahla’s work so much that I bought two china mugs and then a print of the programme illustration!