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Book: Thornyhold

May 24, 2010
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Every once in awhile the perfect book for the moment comes into your life. Where you want to do nothing more than to live inside that book, and be friends with the characters, sleep in the freshly-ironed lavender-scented sheets, walk among the perfect herbal gardens, stay for tea.

I’ve been feeling a bit… I don’t even know the right word for it…  overwhelmed, I suppose. A lot has happened and it’s taking a little bit for my body and mind to adjust. I think I’m feeling a tiny bit numbed. Not tired, exactly, only as if parts of my brain have just shut down for awhile.

Enter Mary Stewart’s Thornyhold, a mini-masterpiece of undemanding English cottage fairy tale, complete with understated romance, a delightful inherited house, charming creatures and even a token witch (a few, rather). There was nothing demanding nor disturbing in this book — all was quiet, as if strolling through dappled woods on your way to a peaceful teatime. It was perfect for how I was feeling.

Gilly Ramsey, orphaned in her mid-twenties, inherits her “fairy-god-mother’s” estate. She, having nothing to lose, promptly travels to her new home and immediately feels as if she is exactly where she is meant to be. Indeed, many of the events have been foretold by her godmother, who was a bit of a seer. But only in a charming English-countryside sort of way. Anyway, Gilly arrives and soon the (miniature, quiet, sedate) adventures begin. A neighbor who seems one way but is possibly another. A small boy in need of a friend. Animals who need doctoring. A house in need of a young fresh spirit to bring it back up to snuff. And of course, a reclusive writer, irresistible to all.

If I were ever going to read romances, I think they would need to be like this. The romance almost took back seat to the rest of the story, and was so natural and unobtrusive (no heaving bosoms) that I didn’t mind it at all and in fact found it delightful. The main story focused on the house, and the neighbors, and the slight mystery of the “recipe book.” Which was exactly what I needed.

I have attempted to read the Merlin trilogy by Mary Stewart a few times, but haven’t ever gotten through it. I think I was too in love with the Arthur story to really get on board with Merlin. However, this renewed my interest in Mary Stewart’s writing. This sort of English coziness is exactly what I want sometimes. I know the Merlin books are not as cozy, but I did like her style. Although published in the 80s, it felt almost as if written 80 years ago, slow and charming with lots of description.

A perfect book for if you are home sick or a wee bit under the weather, or in need of something comforting and not too heavy. I kind of loved it. I closed the book and wanted more! In fact, I wanted to go live at Thornyhold, which is pretty much my dream house.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. May 24, 2010 8:19 am

    Sounds lovely and idyllic. Sort of like one of those Robert Kincaid paintings that also has a story attached 🙂

  2. May 24, 2010 1:15 pm

    i love these kinds of stress free books.

    i feel exactly this way about Good in Bed. It probably wasnt a book i would pick up on my own, but i loved reading it and it was exactly what i needed at the time. i read it slowly too, savoring every little moment, which sounds silly because the book itself wasnt that deep. but sometimes i find myself reading books just to finish them and ultimately losing sight of the journey.

    books like this are the literary equivalent of pushing the reset button.

  3. trapunto permalink
    May 24, 2010 2:57 pm

    This does sound perfect. I am finishing the first book in the Merlin Trilogy right now. I got kind of bogged down in the excess of politics and dearth of personality, though I really enjoyed the beginning, and I think Mary Stewart is an amazing writer. Books about people inheriting wonderful old houses always make me weepy (in a good way?). Thanks for your review!

  4. May 26, 2010 6:55 pm

    Stef: noooo! Not a Robert Kincaid painting!!

    Tammie: it’s totally a reset button. So nice every so often. And I loved Good In Bed for that reason too.

    Trapunto: Yes, I’ve tried to read that a few times… but I might try again soon.

    • May 27, 2010 6:16 am

      Heh, sorry. I know Kincaid is like the anti-artist but he does have a sort of idyllic dreamy quality with all the flowers and vines crawling over cute English cottages. My in-laws have one of his paintings and they are always talking about who should get what when they die these days. I just hope they don’t decide to give me and James their Kincaid painting!

  5. May 27, 2010 8:06 am

    It’s true… but ack. Actually Carmel is like a Robert Kincaid painting too, and I love Carmel.

  6. May 27, 2010 3:58 pm

    This sounds right up my alley. There are times I need an easy read like this.

  7. May 27, 2010 4:18 pm

    totally. it was so comforting and sweet!

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