Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Mary Stewart appreciation

Writer Unboxed has a lovely post up about Mary Stewart. Sophie Masson, the author, marvels that though she first discovered and loved Stewart as a teenager, the magic of Stewart's books is undiminished as she re-reads them as an adult. I absolutely agree! Her stories are timeless. Here's a quote from the post:
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.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Whoa, I found this site by accident because I could not remember the title of Airs Above The Ground, and I wanted to recommend that book to people in a horse forum.

I love MS's novels and I think I have read them all. Almost.

Good job.

*I has a happy nao*

- Kenshin

Some Birds said...

Thank you very much for linking to the article. I loved the post's description of Stewart's response to her letter.

Toni said...

Hello! I am a massive, massive fan of Ludo and the Star Horse. I'm 35 and first read this book when I was 7. It has always been my favourite children's book, it's just magical. I believe it fostered an interest in mythology in me; this interest grew, and years later I went on to do a Classical Studies degree! I have re-read the book many times and could never tire of it.

I have recently discovered to my great joy that my copy of the book is an uncorrected proof, so it's extra special :-)

Toni xx

Somjai said...

I read Mary Stewart's older novels as a teenager, and enjoyed them immensely. Returning to them 40 yrs later, I'm in love with them all over again, but with a more mature perspective. Thank goodness, they were clean romance when I 1st started reading them as a teenager, and now as a mature adult, the innocence attracts me more. Ooh, Nine Coaches Waiting made me feel like a naive teenager all over again, that I had to read it a 2nd time in a row. I would have loved to have seen and met Raoul de Valmey! I just kept thinking that they should have made this into a movie, but then again, these days, they would corrupted it, and tear the innocence to pieces. Thanks for this site, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one to love and enjoy her novels this much!

mainhoonemily said...

Have you seen the beautiful new covers Mary Stewart's books are being re-released with in the UK this spring? I think my collection might need to be updated (though does anyone really need 5 copies of Nine Coaches Waiting?)...

You can find one of them here, I found the rest just by searching for "Mary Stewart".

Jennie said...

Emily -- thanks!! I love those covers! Just posted about them. :)

Liz said...

I stumbled on this site after rereading This Rough Magic (thanks for the amazing pictures of Corfu!) and realizing that I would love to discuss Stewart's novels with other readers. They are just now becoming available again in new editions in my local Barnes & Noble. Looking forward to rereading the ones I devoured as a kid, and discovering new ones, like Thornyhold, which I've also recently read.

Thank you so much for putting up this website and blog.

Tatting Gale said...

I read my first Mary Stewart book when I was 6 years old... Madam will you talk. I picked it because I was in french school and madame was the only word I recognized in all my parents books. I read it from cover to cover, in french... not understanding a thing, but I remembered that title and picked it up again when I was 13 and fell in love with Mary Stewart. I have all her books, and have read all of them at least 10 times. I have given her books as gifts to others and they are now hooked on her.
Like they say in most of her books "Mary Stewart is MAGIC" She gets into your brain and brings you to the places in her books, and you live the story in your head and in your heart.

Anonymous said...

I've only read the Merlin trilogy but have read it over and over again for 40 years!!! My FAVORITE in my whole life!! Liz

Anonymous said...

Yes!! Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

I love Mary Stewart...like a lot of you I discovered her as a teen and I think I've read almost everything she's written. Her storytelling powers are amazing...my favorites among her novels are The Ivy Tree, Nine Coaches Waiting, and Airs Above the Ground. I especially loved the romance as a teen...as an adult I still love the romance, but I also began to be more appreciative of her marvelous descriptions of the places in which she set her stories. I also liked the boys, horses, and dolphin that were supporting characters in some of her novels. She wrote with a lot of empathy and understanding of animals and children. I'm a voracious reader...and I've read a lot of good books over the years which are not keepers on my bookshelves! Mary Stewart's books are outstanding...they captured my heart and imagination and they will always remain at the top of my list of all-time favorites...I collected my favorites to keep on my bookshelves and every so often I treat myself to a great time rereading them!

Frances Sutherland said...

I'm amazed.....to find so many others like myself, who first read Mary Stewart as a teenager, and have read and re-read her books many times over the years. To this day she remains my favourite fiction author. Her novels are utterly timeless, and her characters are absolutely real - the reader is transported to another world. How I wish I could tell her in person the pleasure her books have given me for so long

Gloria said...

Mary Stewart left us on May 9th, 2014 at 97. I started reading her in 1962 and have never been disappointed. Gloria