Books

Thornyhold – Mary Stewart

Is there something magical in the world and can you perhaps know more than you actually originally think you do?

It seems to be the case with Geillis (Gilly) Ramsay who inherits her godmother house when she dies. It seems that everything is written in the stars or some other uncontrollable force. Gilly had to give up university when her mother tragically dies and she comes home to tend to her father, vicar of a church in a colliery town in the North East. She has an existence but nothing more, but when he dies and the future looks bleak, homeless and without purpose. The news comes that she has inherited this house. Thornyhold. Now Gilly has a purpose. But does the house come with another gift?

Thornyhold needs care and attention to bring it back to life along with the garden that has become overgrown and unruly. Gilly restores life and warmth to this property which is hidden away from the outside world. She gets help from the young William who helped her godmother and steers Gilly in a direction. The direction of love. This is what ultimately this story is – a gentle quiet magical love story with no aggressive behaviour, the only fly in the ointment is Agnes Trapp.  Agnes has her own plans and I thought at one point she was going to win a battle with Gilly that poor Gilly did not even know she was fighting until very close to the end of the book. But all comes right in love and war and the magical natural setting that Mary Stewart creates makes it a diverting and enjoyable book.
Well worth a read.
 
This is another author I discovered through the influence of book blogs – spotting the author many times. Check out She Reads Novels and Fleur Fisher who are recent discoverers too! Katrina at Pining for the West is someone else who is working her way through the back catalogue. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and so I did. Again, another discovery which has paid dividends as I found the story so rich and enjoyable – and it features a ‘house as a character’ which always appeals to me.
 
I had no preconceived ideas about the author until after finishing the novel. I realised that the author wrote this particular book in the nineteen eighties and the author was in her seventies at a time. Perhaps that accounts for its gentle resonance but perhaps not its magic. This element of the story surprised me, it reminded me of magical childhood stories, but with a reasonable outcome everything was explained by the end. Magical and believable rather an oxymoronic combination.
 
I will be on the look out for more of this author’s work. Any recommendations?
 
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4 thoughts on “Thornyhold – Mary Stewart

  1. The only Mary Stewart books that I have read so far are: Nine Coaches Waiting and My Brother Michael, both of which were quite good.

  2. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed your first Mary Stewart! My favourite so far is definitely Nine Coaches Waiting but I liked The Ivy Tree and Touch Not the Cat too.

  3. I read quite a lot of her books in the 1970s so I’m now rereading some, as I recall ‘magic’ often features in her books. My favourites are still the Merlin trilogy books, she eventually wrote another two but I still have to read the fifth one. I believe Mary Stewart is still alive and living in the highlands, she must be in her 90s. Thanks for the mention.

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