A Summer Reading: Thornyhold by Mary Stewart

Set in the quiet and drowsy English countryside, this is a quiet tale of a lonely child growing up into a young woman and traveling to a cottage deep in the forests of Wiltshire county, where she settled in to the air of mystery surrounding Thornyhold.

The heroine is Gilly Ramsey, who spent a miserable childhood being starved for affection from a cold mother and a religious father when a visit from a distant godmother opened her eyes to the wonders of nature and the world around her. Years passed and she inherited her godmother's house and garden, along with it her known reputation as the local 'white witch', friendly but odd neighbors and other strange happenings.

Mary Stewart, known for her works of contemporary romantic suspense and mystery as well as historical, weaves a subtle magic with her descriptive details of the peaceful village life and its little quirks in 1940s England. This was the first book I read of hers and I was pleasantly drawn to the fantastical elements and prose prevalent on her writing. I couldn't believe I have not known her sooner for I am now definitely a big fan and went on to read her other novels, such as The Ivy Tree, which I thoroughly enjoyed too.

Thornyhold is a mild story with sprinkles of mystery, romance and magic. There's more of a nostalgic and old-fashioned feel to this novel, a lighter blend than Stewart's most works; a rather thoughtful narrative about a young woman coming of age. It is quite slow-paced, not for anyone who is looking for twisty plots, grand gestures or action.  The book is more of a homage to a place and time long gone, to the oddities of a well-loved home, a cozy reading better taken up with a cup of tea in the warmth of the hearth while outside a summer rain is falling.

Title: "Thornyhold"
Author: Mary Stewart
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Published: 1988 Hardcover
Publisher: William Morrow
Rating: ♨♨♨♨ and a half cup - Bring that other half cup to the window seat and read about a cat, a still room filled with herbs, a cottage garden and you might just want to move in yourself to settle in Thornyhold.


  1. Looks interesting, I am picking it up as a to-read book. Excellent review!

    1. Thanks! Strangely, I have this thing for drowsy and lyrical books like this.


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