Urged on by several people, including Lisa, I decided to read The Ivy Tree as my first Mary Stewart book of the week. And I’m so glad I did. It is a page-turning, twisty, corker of a novel that I binge read in just a couple of days. It would be a great place to start with Stewart if you’ve never read her before.
Set in Northumberland, the tale begins when Mary Grey is approached by a stranger who mistakes her for his long-lost cousin, Annabel. She bears a remarkable resemblance to this mysterious woman who disappeared eight years previous. Initially irritated by the attentions of the handsome Connor Winslow, Mary spontaneously agrees to pose as Annabel so that Con and his sister Lisa can inherit Annabel’s share of the inheritance from their wealthy grandfather (Mary will get a cut, of course). When Mary/Annabel arrives at the family farm she navigates dangerous territory trying to convince everyone that she is who she says she is. She also has to appease Con who makes her nervous with his quietly volatile and unstable personality – and his greed. A major twist comes about 3/4 of the way through the novel and changes everything. Stewart’s usual exciting and suspenseful ending had my heart racing right through the last page.
I think Stewart’s writing in this book is about the best in any of her novels. Her characters are vivid, she writes stunningly about the landscape and the mystery is subtle and surprising. I think Nine Coaches Waiting is still my favorite of hers, but this is up there with the ones I enjoyed best.
MSRW Posts so far:
Four by Mary Stewart – The Emerald City Reader
This Rough Magic – I Prefer Reading
Thornyhold – Fleur in Her World
Thornyhold – Quixotic Magpie
Touch Not the Cat – TBR 313
Wildfire at Midnight – Tell Me a Story
Let me know if I’ve missed yours!