Last month, I went on a little spending spree and bought five of the new vintage-looking Mary Stewart editions published by Hodder & Stoughton last year. I just love the way these colorful covers look. They do Mary Stewart proud and make her novels a tad more enticing to today’s readers (I hope).

Thunder On the Right, my third Mary Stewart, was part of my spoils and has a lovely pale green cover that is just perfect. The background I used in the photo is a piece of fabric that Katrina from Pining for the West sent me and I think it is a great compliment. Thanks again, Katrina!

This book is the first Stewart I’ve read that takes place outside of England. It is set in the Pyrenees, the mountains that divide France and Spain. The plot involves a case of identity theft and the struggle to uncover the truth behind the switch.

Jennifer Silver, a young Englishwoman, travels to France to meet her cousin Gillian, but when she arrives she’s told that Gillian died in a convent after a horrible car crash. Not quite believing the nuns who tell her the news, she decides to stick around and investigate the accident to find out exactly what happened. Joined in her endeavors by a former boyfriend, she uncovers a sinister smuggling operation that somehow involves Gillian.

This novel is the least favorite of the Stewart novels I’ve read. The plot is pretty feeble and the evil characters are comically drawn. There is too much melodrama and not enough backstory to make it as interesting as the others I’ve read. And there is zero character development. Other reviews I’ve read online concede that this is perhaps Stewart’s weakest novel.

That being said, I gobbled it up and did not want to stop. I usually read Mary Stewart in the bath and they are so riveting, this one included, that I end up all pruney by the time I can pull myself away.

If you’re new to Stewart I wouldn’t recommend this as your first experience of her writing. It is probably best to read it when you are already addicted to her and can’t be discouraged from thinking she’s wonderful.

23 Comments

  1. The libraries here have very few of Mary Stewart’s books, so these new editions are extra tempting! I probably won’t look for this one first, though.

    • No, I would start with something else. I’m reading The Moonspinners right now and it is very good. I think it would be a good place to start.

  2. Oh dear, that’s a bit disappointing! I was so looking forward to Thunder on the Right! But as you say, once you’re addicted, you read the weaker ones anyway… Mary Stewart is definitely my cozy comfort read 🙂

  3. I liked this a little more than you, in part I think because it was the right book for the right moment. It’s not her strongest book but I don’t think it’s her weakest – that would be Rose Cottage I’m afraid.

    • I remember reading your review and it was a bit more positive than mine is! I did like it, I just liked it less than the others I’ve read. Maybe I’ll save Rose Cottage for last!

  4. I saw these retro Stewart covers in the library and I thought they looked pretty cool. I almost borrowed Stormy Petrel but added to tbr instead! Fabric is lovely.

    • I love these covers! I hope they entice younger readers to explore Stewart’s novels. And isn’t the fabric great? I was so happy to get it from Katrina.

  5. It’s strange to see the fabric with you in Arizona, instead of my sewing room which is just feet away from where I’m sitting now! I’m glad you like it.
    I read Thunder on the Right way back in the 1970s but I really have only vague memories of it – which probably says it all because I remember some of her other books quite vividly!

    • The fabric looks great in Arizona, doesn’t it? I don’t think Thunder on the Right is one of her best, but it wasn’t horrible – just not very memorable.

  6. I don’t know of this writer and am so happy to learn about her. I love learning about writers. Lovely edition of her book.

    • Isn’t it gorgeous? I want to own them just for the lovely covers. She is definitely a ‘comfort’ read, one of the first romantic suspense novelists, but her settings and her language are very lush and exciting.

  7. Too bad this one didn’t quite live up to expectations, but it still sounds like an entertaining (bath! 🙂 ) read! I love the vintage covers, too. I broke down and bought one of them, but I already own several so couldn’t justify adding more to my pile in the way of duplicates. I’m looking forward to reading more of her books–will have to squeeze one in this year sometime. Last year I read My Brother Michael and liked it very much.

    • They’re so pretty that it would be tempting to buy duplicates, but I guess that doesn’t make economic sense 🙂 My Brother Michael hasn’t been reprinted so I’m going to have to find an older copy of it – maybe I’ll get one with a really funky ’70’s cover!

  8. The Book People have a special offer for her – 10 books for £10 – practically a robbery.

    I have been looking at this offer for quite some time now. I had never actually heard of her before but I thought the covers looked delightful.

    So do you think I should invest in it?

  9. Sorry to hear this wasn’t as good as the others you’ve read. I’ll probably still read it eventually, but there are plenty of her other books that I would like to read first. I agree with Jane that Rose Cottage is the weakest I’ve read so far.

    • Yes, Helen, I would read some of her others first. Too bad Rose Cottage is weak also – I probably won’t read it any time soon. Wasn’t it the last suspense novel she published?

  10. I’ve never read anything by Mary Stewart, but she sounds great! I’ll have to add some to my To Read list. Love that cover, too!

    • She is fab, Miss B! Her settings and main female characters are always well-developed. And she writes very beautifully about landscape too. I love her descriptions of nature. You really can’t pass up those inviting covers!

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