Thursday, May 29, 2008

Similar to Mary Stewart

I'm always interested in finding authors whose books are similar in some way to Mary Stewart's. Same sort of tone, similar plots or settings.

Here are some authors that I've tried and can recommend as very good:

Barbara Michaels is a pseudonym of Barbara Mertz, who also writes historical fiction under the name Elizabeth Peters. Under the Michaels name she writes gothic suspense novels, which often have romantic threads running through them.

Daphne du Maurier is most famous for Rebecca, which is an amazing book. I haven't read any of her others but mean to in the future.

M.M. Kaye wrote a series of "Death in" books. Death in Kashmir, Death in the Andamans, etc. All feature young English women in exotic settings caught in dangerous situations. (She also wrote my favorite children's book of all time, The Ordinary Princess, which is not at all like anything Mary Stewart ever wrote but still fabulous.)

Susanna Kearsley writes lovely suspense novels, some contemporary and some historical (and some a combination of both!). My favorites are The Shadowy Horses and The Winter Sea.

And a few other authors I've seen mentioned as similar to Stewart but haven't read:
Victoria Holt, Dorothy Eden, Phyllis Whitney

Anyone have any other suggestions?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mary Stewart on Happy Endings

A quote from the preface to the 1969 Hodder & Stoughton Mary Stewart Omnibus I:

But one convention of the mainstream of adventure fiction I have kept right through my novels, the convention that the good ends happily, the bad unhappily. "That is what fiction means," said Oscar Wilde. We can laugh at it, but it is sound tradition. A complicated plot rounded off with the reader's imagination projected willingly into the future, is a deeply satisfying reading experience. It is also much more difficult to write effectively than the unresolved or the tragic ending.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mary Stewart in translation

I came across a 1977 article on Mary Stewart in Something About the Author* that says that "Mary Stewart's novels have been translated into sixteen languages, including Hebrew and Icelandic and Slovak." I'm assuming her books have spread even further in the last 25 years, but I'm not sure how to find out the exact number. I cruised the web for cover images and was able to find The Crystal Cave in French, Spanish, and German. Very interesting to see the different cover art used in different countries. The cartoon cover on the Spanish edition is pretty cool.

The National Library of Scotland has an extensive collection of Mary Stewart novels, including many translations. If you search in their catalog, you'll come up with 458 hits for Stewart, Mary, 1916-. That's a lot of different editions. Kasteel in de Alpen is Nine Coaches Waiting in Dutch. Manadisirnar is The Moon-Spinners in Icelandic. Okami mori no noroi is A Walk in Wolf Wood in Japanese.

Of course, it's not at all surprising to me that Mary Stewart is read all over the world. Her protagonists may be perfectly English women, but a good story is a good story the world over.

*Something About the Author, v. 12: 217-219. Detroit, Mich.: Gale Research, 1977.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Site updates

I've made some updates to the Mary Stewart site:

**I figured out how to put an RSS feed on the index page, so the three most recent posts here on the blog show up there at the bottom. My coding skillz, they are growing.

**MaryK was fabulous and sent us the William Morrow blurbs for Madam, Will You Talk, The Moon-Spinners, and Airs Above the Ground. So we now have the expanded summaries there. Thanks, MaryK!

**I've updated the Madam, Will You Talk page. I put some extra info at the top (including links to various posts here on the blog) and added an excerpt. An excerpt--yay! I hope I'm not infringing any copyrights. Eek. It's pretty short, I very clearly state what it is, and I added links to buy the book on Amazon and other places. So surely the publishers couldn't mind. I'm doing their advertising work for them. :)

Eventually I'll update all the novels pages to look like this. But it'll take some time. :)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Reader review index: Madam, Will You Talk?

I'm going to keep updating this post with links to all the reader reviews I can find for Madam, Will You Talk? So far, I haven't found too many, but I'm sure the list will grow. :)

Road to Romance
Rosario's Reading Journal
Amazon reviews
Jennie's B(ook)log

If you've talked about this book on your own blog or website, send me the link and I'll add it to the list!

And I wanted to let you all know that if you would like to write a review for any Stewart novel but don't have your own site, I'd be more than happy to post it here on the blog. Just email us at

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Photo gallery: Madam, Will You Talk?

Since Mary Stewart's books are so famous for their exotic and well-described settings, I thought it would be fun to find photos of those settings and post them here on the blog. I hope eventually to make my way through all the novels. I'm starting with Madam, Will You Talk? The book's heroine, Charity Selborne, makes her way through much of southern France.

Le Pont d'Avignon
photo by Navas
"...presently, round a curve in the city wall, the old bridge of the song came into view, its four remaining arches soaring out across the green water to break off, as it were, in midleap, suspended halfway across the Rhone."

The Pont du Gard
photo by Wolfgang Staudt
"I suppose the ten or twelve minutes that David and Rommel and I spent gazing at those golden arches spanning the deep green Gardon were like the last brief lull before the thunder."

Nimes, the Temple of Diana
photo by smithco
"I left my chair and went through the crumbled arches into the tiny square of the temple. It was like being miles from anywhere. Behind me, back through the crumbled archway, was the hot white world with its people and its voices; here, within, was a little square of quiet and green coolness. Trees dripped over the high broken walls, shadows lay like arras in the pillared corners, fronds of ferns lent softness to every niche and crevice."

Les Baux
photo by kahala
"The deserted town of Les Baux, in medieval times a strong and terrible fortress, stands high over the southern plains....The prospect is wild enough, and strange enough, to satisfy anyone who, like myself that evening, felt so pressingly the need for quiet and my own company."

Marseilles, Chateau d'If
photo by Axel13000
"I sat on the low parapet of the turret of the Chateau d'If watching the white stone slowly flush to a tender rose. I watched the softly breaking water of the tideless sea wash and wash cross the whispering white pebbles, aquamarine rippled through with liquid gold."

The port of Marseilles
photo by bfalk
"Presently we found ourselves in a cobbled street which slanted along the sea front, with tall houses to the left of us, and a low sea-wall to the right. Away ahead, floating in the starlit air like a vision, glimmered the gold statue of Our Lady who stands on the high summit of Notre Dame de la Garde."

*All quotes are from Madam, Will You Talk? copyright 1955, Mary Stewart
**A note about the photos. All photos are from flickr--each attribution has links to the photo and the artist's profile. If you own one of these photos and would like it removed, simply let us know in the comments. Thanks!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Friday trivia

Only one of Stewart's suspense novels is told in the 3rd person, rather than the 1st. Which is it?

MaryK got it right! It's Thunder on the Right. Here's a quote from an article that Mary Stewart wrote in 1970:
With Thunder on the Right, I tried a technical change of approach, from first person to third. I had dropped naturally, without calculation, into the first person ... but now thought it right to experiment. Of course writing in the first person has certain drawbacks, especially in "danger" and "suspense" situations--certain elements of surprise are cut out, the viewpoint is limited, and direct action is also limited to scenes where the protagonist is present--but for me the advantages far outweigh the losses. The gain in vividness, personal involvement and identification is immense.

In Thunder on the Right, with the third-person approach, I found I had more freedom of action and viewpoint, but in my next novel, Nine Coaches Waiting, went back with a kind of relief to the first person, and have used it ever since.
---"Teller of Tales" in The Writer, Vol 83, p.11