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Book: Rose Cottage

November 12, 2010
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Just as cozily captivating as Thornyhold, Rose Cottage is another mild mystery/light romance set in North England, land of cozy dilapidated cottages and endless cups of tea.

I’m really not big on romances. I can’t stand the heaving bosoms and obvious manipulations of most of the (admittedly few) true romances I’ve read. But I do like a bit of romance in a book, and I like the way Mary Stewart inserts the romance into this very sweet and subtle short novel. Rather than torrential passions, the romance grows so naturally and slowly that, like the characters, you don’t even realize you are being drawn into the romance until it’s too late and you’re rooting for the characters to get together. In this case, that remains a question as the couple does not even kiss and feelings are only hinted at, but it seems pretty likely that they’ll get together. One can hope. Because they seem like such a *nice* couple.

But what I like the best about these charmingly simple books is that the main attraction is not the mild romance, nor the extremely light suspense. It’s the setting: England’s post-war north country, where rationed milk is still delivered daily and one must plan in advance for guests because of short supplies. Everyone seems to live in adorable little rose-covered cottages and is friends with the lord or lady of the land. Somebody usually has the Second Sight. Endless cups of tea are poured and “home” is a place where everyone really does know your name (and your entire history, and there are no skeletons in anyone’s closet because everyone knows all the secrets already).

It’s like snuggling into a soft couch with a big blankie and a cup of cocoa, and your favorite movie on TV, and snow falling outside. Everything is safe and nice and you just feel deeply comforted by the end. Sometimes that’s all you really need from a story: to feel that somewhere, all is right with the world.

In my case, everything is feeling pretty right with the world currently (thankfully), but it’s still nice to sink even deeper into that comfort and imagine a winter of pots of tea and freshly baked scones.

I feel like there is a whole genre of these books — are they called “cozies”?  I feel like a little old lady reading these, but they are so charming and comforting every once in awhile. It seems like something I would have read and LOVED during high school. Won’t win any prizes for Grand Works of Literature but perfectly enjoyable, not a wrong note throughout the entire book. In contrast to the Mobile Library mystery, which was a sore disappointment. It just proves that it takes talent to write even the simplest of tales.

On to the Merlin Trilogy, which I am hopeful I will enjoy this time. I first started this waaaay back, maybe in the late 80s, but I couldn’t get into it. I’ve tried a few times since but for one reason or another just couldn’t do it. I read The Once and Future King a couple years ago and really loved it (I think this was my second or third reading of that one) so hopefully I’m up for it this time. I’d like to have this one under my belt. I have a mild thing for Arthurian legend stuff.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 12, 2010 6:58 am

    while this isnt my type of thing, i totally am with you on occassionally reading something that isnt a hard read or great literature. for me, its comics. sometimes i like to sit with a book of garfield or foxtrot comics. its silly, but i feel like it gives my brain a rest and its nothing i have to think too hard about.

    • November 13, 2010 8:03 pm

      Exactly. Gives your brain a rest, and you can just sort of escape without having to put any effort into it. I used to LOVE Calvin and Hobbes for that very reason.

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