Mary Queen of Plots

The writing of Mary Stewart (1916-2014)

Questions and comments

This is a space for general, public comments and questions.

There is still the opportunity to reply below every post – for comments that tend to be specific, relating to the book/subject of each post, and these are public comments.

There is still  the ‘Get in Touch’ form. This contact form is private, your comment is emailed to me and I reply to your email address. (For example, if you were to win a book giveaway and needed to send me your address, or if you had a spoilerific plot enquiry, this is the best way to contact me.) Many interesting comments have arrived via this ‘Get in Touch’ form, not for privacy reasons but because it was the best way to send a question that was not connected to any of my posts. Now you can contact me using this page, the conversation will be public and everyone can join in!

This is an experiment, I don’t know if it will work very well. Please let me know if there is a better way to manage comments and questions!

95 thoughts on “Questions and comments

  1. Allison, thank you so much for this amazing blog! Mary Stewart has been my favorite author since I was 11 or 12 years old, when my mother first handed me one of her books. I’m so glad I found your blog, and all of the wonderful material you’ve collected.

    My question is this: have you come across any pictures of Fred Stewart, especially as a young man? It would be very interesting to see what Mary’s husband looked like, particularly around the time they married.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, thank you for your kind comments, Erin! I haven’t seen photos of Fred as a young man (in my head, he looks as Donald is described in The Ivy Tree). There is a photo of Fred and Mary in her obituary in The Times (see sidebar of this blog) and his hair is just as I pictured it! The only other photo of them that I have seen – somewhere – is a 1970s one in which she is wearing a white stetson, I’ll let you know if I find a link to this. Possibly online obituary articles for him might include photos from his youth? – his obit in the Scotsman has a photo of him with white hair. I would really like to see a 1940s photo of him too – he must have been quite something because when they met for the first time, at a VE Day fancy dress dance, Mary Stewart writes: ‘Ten minutes later I met for the first time a young Geology lecturer called Stewart, and thirty seconds after that decided to marry him.’ That was in May 1945 and they were married in September 1945!

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  2. Oh happy day. The Mary Stewart romances appeared on American Amazon Kindle. They weren’t there last year when I checked and now they are there and also in my Fire, mine as long as there is electricity. I’m thinking there because of the Centenary. The beginning and the best of the Gothic romances of my youth and the romance suspense published now.

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    1. Hi Dorothy, yes you seem to have had a long long wait in the US before Mary Stewart books were made available as ebooks – time to make up for lost time now? I’m glad to hear how much you like her books.

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  3. Oh joy! As you recall yesterday I found your Blog, and now I’ve been absorbed in reading older posts and enjoying the pictures. (Yes, of course I have so many other things I should be doing, like finishing a short story with a very close deadline.)

    And then, imagine my surprise when I found reference to Wind of the Small Isles and the Lost One. Oh, fine, The Lost One (Perdita) is just one of those annoying alternative titles–usually American–of a familiar book. Because it truly could be another title for WOTSI.

    And since I’ve smugly owned a copy of WOTSI since I found it in the Oxfam Book Shop in Oxford in 1973, I just said, fine, whatever. Until this morning I looked closer and realised …. Oh Oh Oh! A newly discovered story!!! And available!! So thanks, Allison. I jumped right onto ABEbooks (after checking at Indigo.ca with no luck) and now a new, inexpensive, free-shipping copy is even now on its way to me from somewhere in England.

    Okay, okay, I’ll curb my excitement and get back to work.

    (Yikes. I’ve used more ! in this comment than I did in all of 2017.)

    P.S. I’m a friend of Jerri Chase, through our love of D E Stevenson, and she directed me to your site.

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    1. Hi Susan,

      Thanks for getting in touch again. I’m intrigued that you are a writer, I’ve had a quick peek at your website and blog and will be revisiting!

      I’m so glad that you will be able to read ‘The Lost One’ very soon. I remember my excitement when I discovered a reference (in Mary Stewart’s papers at the National Library of Scotland) to ‘The Lost One’, I felt compelled to write to Mary Stewart about it and I’m quite sure there were an illegal number of exclamation marks in the letter.

      My post called Re-issue of The Wind Off the Small Isles (Sept 2016) discusses the reply I received from Mary Stewart and that her original intention was to write a third Perdita story to make a ‘book-length’ book. I’m sad that never happened but I’m glad that I was able to publicise the existence of ‘The Lost One’ to Hodder and assure them that it was indeed the same Perdita in both stories, as Mary Stewart’s notes in the NLS and her letter to me make clear.

      How lovely that you are a friend of Jerri, I’ve had a fair bit of discussion with her recently and enjoyed it very much.

      And now a confession – I have never read any D E Stevenson. So many people have recommended her to me over the years and I am convinced I would love her books. Yet somehow I never see her books and somehow I forget to check to see if they are in print. I really must fix this!

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      1. I got the audio book of ‘Miss Buncle’s Book’ by DE Stevenson from the Norfolk library service, a few years ago; by chance. It was on the shelf in my tiny local ranch and I really took a fancy to the title.
        I can see why a fan of her style, would also enjoy Mary Stewart. They both write in a delightful, descriptive way. I’m sure many other ‘Mary’ fans would enjoy Miss Buncle.

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  4. Hi, what a delight to find your blog! I loved Mary Stewart books since I was a teenager. I’m trying to find an audio version of Nine Coaches Waiting. They used to have it at the library, but it seems to have been pulled. If anyone can help me locate a copy, please do!

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    1. Hi Paula, welcome to the blog! Sorry not to have replied before now, I am just catching up on my blog. I’m delighted to hear from another admirer of Mary Stewart’s novels, as I love her writing too. I have never listened to an audio version of any of her books and I am not sure where you could track one down but hopefully someone reading this can help. Who narrated the version you listened to of Nine Coaches Waiting?

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  5. HI Alison! I love your blog. It’s fun to hear from others who have loved the books of Mrs. Stewart as much as I. I have a few First Edition (US) hardcover books and would like to collect more. My dream is to have U.K. printed first editions (hardcover)…well, a girl can dream! Anyway, I have a question for you. There are so many publishers, do you know of a list, or where one can find out which publisher printed the true first printed US first edition?
    Thanks so much for any help you can give, and don’t stop reading!

    Nan

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    1. Hi Nan, thanks for getting in touch. I’m afraid I know little about the US editions of Mary Stewart’s books. She stayed with Hodder (& Stoughton) in the UK throughout her career and her books were published first in the UK. As far as I know, William Morrow was her US publisher, which has morphed into HarperCollins over the years, but I don’t know whether she *always* stuck with them. Perhaps some-one else reading these comments can give a more detailed or accurate reply?

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  6. I just discovered your blog and have spent a very happy couple of days browsing through your posts. Mary Stewart is an old favorite, I discovered her in the early eighties when I was in middle school and the school librarian recommended the Arthur trilogy. I liked them but really fell in love with Airs Above the Ground and have loved her books ever since! I’ve continued to enjoy her in periodic rereads. I needed some happy distractions from real life a few weeks ago and started re-reading Heyer. My Stewart books are shelved next to the Heyers so that was the obvious next re-read – and this time, I thought to look online to see if there was a fan club or something and found this blog. Looking forward to catching up on all the posts.

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    1. Hello M, a belated thank you for your comments. As you will have gathered, I’m not active on my blog but I am currently catching up on all the comments and questions. It is good to meet another Mary Stewart fan – and it does seem that many of us are Georgette Heyer fans too!

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    2. Hello Elly, thank you, belatedly, for your comment – and for sharing the photos of Fred Stewart. As you will have gathered, I’m not active on my blog but I am currently catching up on all the comments and questions. It is always good to meet another fan of Mary Stewart’s writing, and I am curious to know how you got on with her children’s books.

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      1. I was so happy to see in my inbox that you have responded on your blog! I was just on your page a few days ago looking up any info on the moon spinners. I am re-reading the book again for about the millionth time but this time with a friend so we can gather later to discuss it. So happy to see you here again!

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      2. Ah, thank you so much! I’m not planning any blog posts in the near future at least but I am enjoying this small re-involvement of reading what others have to say. I’m sure you will enjoy your Moon-Spinners re-read and discussion, it sounds wonderful

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  7. Hello Allison. I’m beyond thrilled to have discovered your blog as I too am a great fan of Mary Stewart. to whom I was introduced by a beloved English teacher. She read My Brother Michael to a class of enthralled 13-year-old girls and that was the beginning of my addiction to Mary Stewart books and an avid interest in everything about Mary Stewart.

    I’ve read all her books several times (except her children’s books which were unavailable to me for a long time but which I’m starting to discover now). The Magic Broomstick awaits!

    Someone on your blog mentioned that they had never seen a picture of a young Fred Stewart. I’m not sure if you’ve come across this pdf but it contains a photograph of Fred Stewart taken in 1952 – rather a handsome young man in those days! Not surprising that Mary fell for him. There’s also a photograph of him with Mary, when he recieved an honorary doctorate from the University of Aberdeen in 1975.

    Click to access 331.full.pdf

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  8. Well, this site was rather a nice surprise, good taste, woman’s empathy, charm Etc.

    For me around the late 80’s art and lit went down the drain, the balanced yin and yang, split, it all became unintuitive testosterone non sense and we have been at war some where ever since.

    Then i found so many sane female writers whose brains were still intact, but i find some sadness here too,
    “Touch not the Cat” Which was for me, almost true timeless literature, seems under valued and represented here, and is more in keeping with Celtic Lit then anything else Ms. Stewart wrote.*
    So for those of you who wander in on this blob seeking cutting Victorian lush and passion…and imagination I highly recommend “Touch not the Cat”

    The Merlin books were a complete cut from their intended original purpose, King Arthur was a fable about how “Incest, Adultery, and
    swindling brought down a nation, and has brought down many.

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    1. Hello Dave, sorry for taking so long to reply to you. My blog is not active currently but I am now picking up the questions and comments left here. Thank you for your comment, I’m interested that you link Touch Not the Cat with Celtic literature

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    1. Hello again catgod, I hope you have seen my reply to you earlier today, all is well here but I just haven’t had the time/inspiration/will to write any posts. I hope to get back to blogging at some point. I hope you are well.

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      1. We are well here in Washington state in the USA. I have missed your blog as well. I’d like to post my photos of Mary Stewart’s yard and exterior home but I’m not sure how. This was after she passed away and the home was for sale or had just sold. So sorry we didn’t meet when I visited Scotland.

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      2. Oh, and her Sunderland neighborhood. Her parents’ home is no longer there. Stop me if I sent this info before.

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      3. I knew the church had been bombed during ww2 but I don’t remember about their home. Sounds as though you got a lot of travelling in in your UK trip!

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  9. Hi Allison,
    Just wanted to connect and say that I miss your blog posts. I am still continuing to read Mary Stewart and still trying to gather friends to do the same. She is probably my most recommended author! Today I was being silly and posed by cat with Touch Not the Cat And suddenly realized I have never read that book. Now my cat read it before me! LOL hope to hear from you soon!

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    1. That is so lovely of you to write! Sorry that it has taken me so long to respond. I’m not sure what will happen with the blog as I seem to have lost my inspiration as to what to post but I do hope to get back to it at some point. I have ‘met’ so many lovely people on here, including you of course. I love the thought of you posing your cat with Touch Not the Cat! I wonder if you have read the book yet?

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      1. Was so excited to see some blog replies in my E box this morning! I’m also so excited to get my avatar back. I never know which button I press and it finally comes up but I am blue skies again also known as the California Teaqueen.

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  10. I’m delighted to have found this forum for questions! I am trying to decide where to start with Mary Stewart’s novels. To begin, I’d like to avoid those that feature magic or the paranormal since I don’t often like those elements in a story. Would you be able to recommend me some titles?

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    1. Hello Finicky Cat, my blog is currently inactive, sorry that it has taken me so long to pick up your comment. Thanks for getting in touch. Mary Stewart books that have these elements are Touch Not the Cat (ESP, time-slip suggestion) and Thornyhold (mentions magic, spells). Possibly you might not enjoy the ritualistic elements in Wildfire at Midnight but it is one of my favourites, a wonderful suspense read that would transport you to a Skye country house hotel and mountainside. Her Merlin books actually rather downplay magic in that Merlin is shown to be perceived as a magician as much for his engineering skills and powers of observation as for his magic – but you may still want to avoid them.
      Mary Stewart’s most popular books excluding Merlin tend to be her earlier, 1950s and 1960s, suspense novels, although you will find readers passionate about any and all of her books. I would suggest beginning at the beginning – perhaps because I adore her debut novel Madam, Will You Talk? so very much. Other firm favourites include The Ivy Tree, Nine Coaches Waiting, The Moon-Spinners, This Rough Magic (no magic!), Airs Above the Ground… I hope you will enjoy whichever novel you read.

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    2. Hello, fellow Mary Stewart enjoyer!
      My suggestions for exciting, yet slightly traditional, reads in the collection, would be :- Wildfire at Midnight, set on Skye
      Airs above the ground, set in Vienna and the Austrian countryside and Nine coaches waiting, set near the Italian lakes (if I remember correctly)
      Touch not the cat and Thornyhold have a bit of the supernatural about them, but in an enjoyable, gentle way.
      Happy reading, we look forward to reading your comments!

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  11. There is a lot here. Thank you so much for compiling all of this and presenting it so well. One question (so far): where is Touch Not the Cat? It seems to have been overlooked(?) Would love to read your thoughts on it, and Ms Stewart’s, if she shared any in her lifetime. Thanks so much.

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    1. Hello again Eleanor, I haven’t missed out Touch Not the Cat so much as not got round to it (yet). My blogging ‘plan’ was to write about them all in chronological order but of course I got waylaid – poems for National Poetry Day, writing about The Little Broomstick and Thornyhold at Hallowe’en, the recent publication of The Lost One in book form… and then I ran out of steam in many ways and haven’t blogged in two years. I’m afraid that really, I only got as far as about 1960 so Touch Not the Cat is a looong way off yet! But the book does have some mentions on my blog, at least in passing. If you click the search icon (next to the twitter icon at the top of the page) and search Touch Not the Cat then you get 27 hits (many more than I was expecting!)

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  12. Hello fellow Mary Stewart enthusiasts.
    I found this site and hope you may be able to answer a question about my particular favourite, Touch not the Cat.
    Did Lady Stewart ever mention if she had visited somewhere that inspired her description of Ashleigh Court, the moated old house in the adventure?
    I wondered about Leeds Castle in Kent, Scotney Castle or Ightam Mote? However there must be many possible locations to have inspired her.
    Hoping for your comments and knowledge; many thanks
    Sandy Mayhew

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    1. Hello Sandy, I have been looking through my paperwork because I feel sure that Ashley Court was based on a real place but so far I have not found anything. I will keep looking and let you know if I find something, or perhaps someone reading this blog knows the answer and will kindly share the info with us!

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    2. Just wanted to chime in that I had searched around on the Internet to find what I thought would fit the bill, and found three possibles. Chailey Moat, Baddesley Clinton, and Birtsmorton Court that pretty much fit what I saw in my mind when reading the story! I lean a little more towards Birtsmorton because it is so cobbled together with different architectural styles.

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      1. Thank you for sharing this, Jean.

        I will have to take a look online at these – and what fabulous names they have! I still have the vague feeling that I have read something about the setting *somewhere*…

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      2. Thank you, Jean. Would you believe, this has only just popped into my email, so I couldn’t reply before!!
        I have just commented to my husband, how meagre tonight’s offering on TV is. Problem solved; I shall spend a happy hour or two chasing up details of your three suggestions! I had subsequently wondered about Ightam Mote as well, but it’s grim history in Anya Seton’s ‘ Green Darkness’ put me off the idea.
        Many thanks. Sandy Mayhew

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    3. I read somewhere years ago that Madresfield Court, between Malvern and Worcester, close to the River Severn, was the setting for the Ashley house.

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      1. Many thanks for this, Julia, how interesting. I have had a quick google, Madresfield Court looks stunning and I shall be taking a second look at leisure. Thank you.

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  13. Hi Allison,
    Thank you so much for this blog. Are you going to write a review of my favourite children’s book, ‘Ludo and the Star Horse’? I love all three of her books for children but feel that the amazing ‘The Little Broomstick’ gets most of the attention. I could spend hours telling you why I love ‘Ludo’ so much but I’ll hold off! I will just say that I wrote to Mary Stewart when I was ten, telling her of my love for the three books and she wrote straight back, thanking me for my thoughts.

    Rachel.

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    1. Hello Rachel, thanks for getting in touch, it is so lovely that Mary Stewart wrote back to ten-year-old you!

      I love Ludo too but have never got round to reviewing it – I started writing this blog with the books in chronological order (slightly mixed up with writing about The Little Broomstick and Thornyhold for Hallowe’en, poetry pieces for National Poetry Day etc). So I am still back in the early 1960s and even if I return to blogging, Ludo is a long way off! If you enter Ludo using the search icon at the top of the blog, you will see there are a few passing mentions – I read out a tiny piece of the first chapter in one post, and in another I show how my copy of Ludo is the rarest book I own.

      And please don’t ‘hold off’ explaining why you love Ludo so much – it would be great if you shared your thoughts with us here!

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      1. Hi Allison,
        Thank you so much for your response! Mary wrote back that Ludo was also her favourite book of the three she wrote for children. I’d recommend it to anyone – it’s a bewitching story about a boy whose horse, Renti, turns out to be a very special: a star horse, destined to drive the chariot of the sun god. First, Renti and Ludo must chase the sun for a year and make it through all of the the houses of the Zodiac. The characters of the Zodiac are brilliantly realised with the kind of vivid imagery we would expect from Mary Stewart: the deadly scorpion with ‘strange, pallid eyes’, the sinister crab that raises its pincer claws ‘high across the moon’; the ‘majestic’ ram and the kindly water-carrier. ‘The Little Broomstick’ and ‘A Walk in Wolf Wood’ are also wonderful!

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  14. Yes Alison I finally read touch not the cat! No my cat did not inspire me but a good friend who has now gotten hooked on Mary S of course that was my doing but that’s what good friends are for right?
    She and I will be getting together for high tea on Wednesday to discuss cat, nine coaches waiting and Madam will you talk. Wish you could join us!

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    1. Hello again Blue Skies/Teaqueen, it is as always lovely to hear from you – and well done on getting a friend hooked on Mary Stewart! Your Wednesday session sounds wonderful, I do wish I could have joined you. I am slightly overwhelmed just at the notion of being allowed to meet up with others indoors, as this is not allowed in Scotland at present because of the pandemic (we can meet one person, socially distanced, in a public outdoor space). So the thought of meeting up for a Mary Stewart chat seems fantastically exotic. I hope it won’t be too long before I can copy you in going out safely to enjoy a delicious afternoon tea!

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      1. Our Mary Stewart tea was amazing! Not only did we talk about cat but also nine coaches waiting and Madam will you talk. My friend is bonkers over Stewart and is reading everything she can get her hands on. And I’m joining her when I can. We both just finished this rough magic so that will be our next discussion when we can set up a time for tea! I’m very jealous because she has read those Gabriel hounds before I did! She loved it! I am so eager to get going on it! My friend is also a writer so it is wonderful to talk with her about Mary Stewart as she says things From a novelists point of view that I don’t perceive as a reader.

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      2. This month I enjoyed Rough Magic, Ivy Tree and Wildfire at Midnight not as much.
        I have ordered MS’ poetry book.
        Her cat poem that I just read on this blog made me cry.
        Her nature descriptions are wonderful.

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      3. Hi Lara, it sounds as though you are on a major Mary Stewart readathon! I am always fascinated by why we prefer some books over others, what made This Rough Magic stand out for you?
        I hope you will enjoy Frost, her poems to her cats are love-filled and moving. I agree with you about her nature descriptions, they are perfectly written and pull the reader right in.

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      4. Hi Allison
        I loved how she worked The Tempest in her plot and I loved her dolphin and cat and nature writing. I felt I was on the hillside with her and by the sea. I am surprised that she did not write more poetry.
        The only murder mystery I would ever read are M Stewart’s.
        I came across her books in a book tree.

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      5. Hi Lara, yes Mary Stewart’s writing of setting is always spot on, so that the reader is right there with her. My wish is that there is more poetry and her estate will publish it, accompanied by her drawings…
        I have to confess, I don’t know what a book tree is – I am imagining a book exchange shelf of books in a tree (rather than in a disused phone box etc as is more usual in rainy Scotland)

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      6. Hi Allison
        I am reading Iris Murdoch again and am reminded of MS. The opening paragraph of “The Sea, The Sea” transports me away from my ugly mind.
        Yes a book tree is often in a tree trunk that has been carved to hold books but we have these little book exchanges in most towns in little wooden houses about a foot across that’ll hold up to 20 books. People have them at their driveway or storefronts.
        Lara

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  15. Lucky you, to have such a friend who enjoys the same kind of reading matter and has time and inclination to chat about it.
    It must be a wonderful and much to be valued positive in your life!!

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    1. It is wonderful to read and chat about books! She and I are in the same book club where we primarily read classics. So the Stewart books do not fit into what we normally read . when that happens we do what are called ‘side reads’. Last year four of us book clubbers got together and discussed the moon spinners. So much fun! Now that I have done this with several Mary Stewart books I am discovering that she is very discussable. That makes it even more fun!

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      1. Did you see the Hayley Mills film of The Moonspinners many, many years ago? It was a little ‘adjusted’ but still captured the magic, I felt. It was watching this at 13, that led me to a lifelong love of Mary Stewart novels!!

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      2. Hi Sandy, I come at this the opposite way – I loved her books for years, finally heard there was a film of The Moon-Spinners and looked out for it for some time before it became easily available on DVD. I was, initially, a little horrified by the changes in plot and tone! (And still wish Hitchcock had directed one of her films, look how often Rebecca is on tv whereas I am unaware of The Moon-Spinners ever being shown on UK tv.) But once you accept The Moon-Spinners on its own terms, it has charm, excitement, humour, a good-natured bounce that I can’t help but love. Just thinking about the film makes me smile.
        Thanks so much for sharing the magnetic pull of the film on you as a young teenager coming to the film without preconceptions, and I’m glad it led you to her books.

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  16. I am SO excited to find this blog! I’ve been reading Mary Stewart since I first borrowed one from my grandmother’s shelf at age 12, 30 some-odd years ago. She has been my favorite author ever since and most people I know have never heard of her. Looking forward to browsing this site. My grandmother’s favorite was The Ivy Tree; for me, it’s a tie with My Brother Michael and This Rough Magic. Think I’ll start with those. 🙂

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  17. I had the same experience as Sandy Mahew with Moonspinners and feel the same way. i can forgive Disney for the completely different story in the same setting because he introduced me to Mary Stewart. I’m an avid fan in Vancouver, WA, USA.

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    1. How interesting that you and Sandy both came to Mary Stewart’s books this way! Now wondering if you first saw The Moon-Spinners in a cinema rather than on video, and if the film was a big hit at the time. I imagine the Disney name guaranteed it was.

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      1. I saw the Moonspinners in the fall of 1964 soon after it was released in a very small theater in a very small ranch town in western Colorado during my sophomore year in high school. My family had just moved from a much larger town in southern Wisconsin and I was feeling cut off from the world. It was a wonderful escape. I found Stewart’s other mystery novels in the local very small library. Now I have most of her works on my own shelves and borrow the occasional hard to find one thru an interlibrary loan system.
        I’ve always enjoyed the movie; but I prefer the book. I feel Disney corrupted the story in order to aim it at a young teen audience (like Mills’ Parent Trap) and it worked for me at that age. Rotten Tomatoes got it right when it reviewed the new movie as “distilled Hitchcockian suspense yarn, diluted for the consumption of children.” The gorgeous Greek sunshine and scenery was an essential part of the movie.

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      2. It is lovely that you found solace and escape when your world was changing. I think that is something Mary Stewart has given to so many readers with her books. I like that film review, it conveys a lot in those few words.

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      3. Yes, The Moonspinners was quite a big hit as a teen movie in our area of Surrey at the time (1960’s)
        Hayley Mills was a well known child/teen actress from a theatrical/film famous family and backed heavily by Disney.
        Suitable family viewing, for certain!
        Her co-star, Peter McEnery was also a ‘name’ already and considered a suitably safe heart -throb to give Hayley her first screen kiss!! Heady stuff! Other star actors were in the film , too.
        The drama of the scene in the old windmill , when Peter McEnerys hand suddenly thrusts down into shot, quivering and bloodstained and HUGE on the big screen, became for me , the bench-mark of the making the audience jump and gasp moments, for ever after!! My friends and I leapt, visibly!!
        Happy days indeed.

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      4. You make it sound like a lot of fun going to see the film, Sandy, and it seems to have cast a lasting impression too. The hand moment is fabulous!

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  18. Jumping in! I’m the same as Allison when it comes to The Moon-Spinners film. I had already read it what felt like a million times to 15-year-old me and had to turn it off 20 minutes in. I’ve always wondered if how it turned out is why her other books weren’t made into movies; I’d hang tight to the rights too. Thankfully, a little older and wiser, I went back and can enjoy it now as a fun flick. And if it inspired anyone to find her books, it gets two thumbs up! 🙂

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    1. Well said, Bridget! Earlier tonight I tried to find which interview Mary Stewart mentions this in but had no luck- I’m pretty sure she said she went to see it but wasn’t impressed with the changes. She let the BBC film a series on Merlin and I read – somewhere – that she was very wary about it, but she was pleased with that (I think it might be dated now, in sound and lighting and bad wigs! I have a second hand copy on vhs cassette but no video player)

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      1. Your transcript of her interview with Jenny Brown mentions a television adaptation of The Crystal Cave that she thought was done well. I’ve never been into the Arthurian books after reading once, but it would be fun to see it.

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  19. Actually, the scene in the windmill is a separate one, later in the ‘Moonspinners’ film. The shock discovery of the male lead, takes place in an old church, I think! Oh dear, I’m getting old and forgetful!

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  20. Hello Allison – I was wondering if you know how many of the Mary Stewart Modern Classics novels were republished in the new versions with the beautiful covers? Did they all come out in that format and are they still in print? I can only see one or two on eBay and Amazon. Possibly stupidly, I assumed I would be able to buy these gradually. I do have all except Rose Cottage in hardback but I was hoping to acquire them in the lovely new paperbacks as well. I’m not keen on any of the older paperback covers.
    Thank you for your great blog, I keep going back to older posts and re-reading them. I especially like the cover-art posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lucina, do you mean the gorgeous 2017 vintage travel type covers? (The 2011 covers were also tagged as Modern Classics.) As far as I know, 15 were issued in the UK in 2017 – all of the ones which can be classed as suspense, including the only publication of ‘The Wind Off the Small Isles and The Lost One’. The Arthurian books with the Aaron Munday illustrations were re-issued just beforehand, and The Little Broomstick was re-issued in 2018 to coincide with the film Mary and the Witch’s Flower.

      As to availability, I don’t know whether the covers shown on amazon etc reflect what you would be sent. I ordered some of the books from my local bookshop, a branch of Waterstones, and I can remember that it was unclear whether it would be the 2011 or 2017 cover that would arrive – I was assured that if the ‘wrong’ cover came I could return it to them but in each case it was the right, 2017 cover (even although it was often the older 2011 cover that was pictured on their website).

      And thank you for your lovely comments about the blog!

      Like

      1. Oh, thank you for answering my query! Yes, it’s the 2017 vintage travel poster covers I mean. As you say, on Amazon and certainly eBay you often don’t know which edition you are going to get. I hate that!
        I’m just convalescing after an operation and re-reading My Brother Michael has helped me enormously, it’s so vivid, you can lose yourself in the landscape.
        I’m hoping to get to an actual bookshop soon and I will see if I can still order a couple more of the 2017 editions.
        Thank you once again. I often come back to this blog and re-read some of my favourite posts.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. On a recent read of The Stormy Petrel, I was struck with a similarity to another British Classic.

    The first chapter was quite a homage to Elizabeth von Arnim’s The Enchanted April. Each book starts with the Protagonist seeing an ad in The Times newspaper.

    In Enchanted April the ad reads, “To those who appreciate wisteria and sunshine. Small medieval Italian castle On the shores of the Mediterranean to be let furnished for the month of April.”

    In Stormy Petrel the ad reads, “Ivory Tower for long or short let. Isolated cottage on small Hebridean island off the coast of Mull. Ideal for artist or writer in search of peace. Most relatively mod. cons.”

    I am also wondering if it’s any coincidence that both protagonists are named Rose?!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Finally a thoughtful forum about Mary Stewart! I’ve been looking for years to find travel locations to correspond to places in the Merlin Trilogy. Has this wish come up before, in your experience? Do you have any suggested resources?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Russ, thank you for getting in touch and I’m sorry I haven’t seen your question until now. This is something I haven’t worked on yet: perhaps some-one reading these comments can help?

      Like

  23. So very glad to find this blog. I’ve been a Mary Steward fan for over 50 years now, ah… rather dates me, does it not?
    Anyway, was hoping to find out, if M.S used a particular moated manor for the idea of Ashley Court in Touch Not The Cat. And if so, which one?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Karen
      I asked the same question a couple of years ago ; it had always intrigued me, the setting for Ashley Court.
      The suggestions were:- Chailey Moat,
      Baddesley Clinton, Birtsmorton Court, Leeds Castle,, Scotney Castle, Ightam Mote and Madresfield Court.
      Sadly, no one yet is certain!

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Question for those who have the Kindle and paper copies of the books. I’ve noticed weird discrepancies in some lines but my paper books are early versions. Curious if the lines were changed later and the e-books actually match. For example, the e-book of My Brother Michael has the very awkward ‘You’re coming on, aren’t you, thought-reader,’ in the scene right after the fight at the studio. My hard copy is something like “You’re coming along with that thought reading”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Bridget, what an interesting question. Certainly there were differences large and small between UK and US versions of at least some of her books, such as The Ivy Tree and This Little Broomstick. The wording in chapter 13 of the first edition (UK, Hodder & Stoughton, 1959, 1960) is ‘You’re coming on, aren’t you, thought-reader.’ The preceding serialisation in Argosy magazine had the same wording but with a question mark at the end. So I imagine your hard copy version has come about from her US (or non-UK at any rate) publisher and their editing team.

      Like

      1. Good point! I didn’t think about it being a difference in publication country. But I just checked and, yes, mine is a 1960 U.S. print.

        Like

  25. I just LOVED the ‘ Merlin’ books when they first came out, but haven’t read them for years.
    You’ve inspired me to dip into that wonderful, stirring story again, to re-capture the magic.
    I can’t help feeling that, up until their publication, only traces in Touch Not The Cat and even more slightly, in Thornyhold, gave warning of the side of Mary that was fascinated with the ‘Mystic and Legendary’ genre.
    I can hardly wait!!

    Liked by 1 person

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