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.