I was struck by the clarity, beauty and intelligence of her style, and the way it manages to wear its learning so lightly. For there are many, many literary and historical allusions in Mary Stewart’s books; her love of Shakespeare and of Greek and Roman classics and Celtic myth, especially, shines through, enriching the books whilst never being overbearing. Her evocation of place, of landscape and architecture and atmosphere, is superb. She effortlessly bridges the so-called gap between ‘literary’ and ‘genre’ fiction, proving you don’t have to use tortured ‘literary’ constructions to write well, and neither do you need to write ‘down’ in order to tell a rattling good story.
The comments on the post prove again to me how many people were given Stewarts' books as a teenager by their mothers (as I was), and have read and reread them for years. Also striking is how many authors quote her as the inspiration for their becoming writers themselves.