For my fifth Mary Stewart novel I decided to read the very first book she published, in 1955, Madam, Will You Talk? This action-packed thriller is set in the South of France and is the first-person account of Charity Selborne and the trouble she finds herself in just for being nice to a little boy.
Charity and her friend Louise settle in to Avignon, Charity intending to play the tourist and Louise to relax, draw, read and enjoy the sun. When Charity befriends a young boy named David she unknowingly embroils herself in a dangerous murder plot involving his father, his step-mother and some really shady war criminals. This Stewart has a lot more action than her others I’ve read, a lot more trickery and deception. I like Charity’s character – she has gumption and courage, but I love her friend Louise who is described as “unutterably and incurably lazy.” I remember loving the sidekick aunt character in The Moonspinners also – Stewart writes great supporting characters.
Madam, Will You Talk? is very definitely a vintage thriller. It is the first of hers I’ve read that felt a tad dated. But I don’t mind at all because I love the ’50’s and enjoyed reading something that was written during the time period and felt like it.
I think The Moonspinners is still my favorite of the Stewart’s that I’ve read, but Madam, Will You Talk? was hugely entertaining and I loved reading it.
The author Deanna Raybourn discusses Mary Stewart from a writer’s persepective here.
Have you seen this video for Penguin’s English Library series? It’s kind of bizarre, but I like it!