Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart
It is my third book of Mary Stewart and, as every time, I am taken by the languidness of her novels, notwithstanding the allure of cottage garden stories. Though not quite as sweeping as The Ivy Tree or magical as Thornyhold (my favorite of all!) and is a notch or two down, it remains a nice warm reading.
Rose Cottage is light with a sprinkle of mystery, a hint of romance and a good imagery of the English countryside and charms of a stone cottage. You could say, a classic British women fiction (for me, anyway) sans the drama. A summer in 1947, a woman coming back to her childhood home, a puzzle about her birth, a bunch of missing tokens and suspicious neighbors.
Stewart is on her element when it comes to lyrical descriptions of the landscape mixed with a dash of intrigue or nostalgia. Here again, like a signature, the book opens with a woman lounging by the slope of a meadow admiring the view of a sprawling estate.
I like that despite the constraints of the period, there's a sense of independence surrounding her heroines though mainly by circumstance. Still, their serene manners and silent strength don't go unnoticed. I also see the pattern of their men who are, rather than dashing or tortured or privileged, quite solid and dependable, an Everyman so to speak.
The book makes for a nice bedtime reading and has that clinging charm that you'd keep reading it again and again, like I did with Thornyhold. These two got a few similarities (both books which Stewart wrote late in her life), with both women arriving to an old place, living on a cottage and feeling right at home on a small village. I'd want to hop into the book or any Stewart "cottage" books for that matter (as long as no one wants to kill me.)
Till now I wonder how come not one of her books have been made into film like Catherine Cookson's. It would have been a visually stunning one. In the meantime, I am off to another Mary Stewart book.
Rose Cottage, a tiny thatched dwelling in an idyllic English country setting, would appear the picture of tranquility to any passerby. But when Kate Herrick returns to her childhood home she uncovers a web of intrigue as tangled as the rambling roses in its garden.
It is the summer of 1947. Kate, widowed in the War and comfortably settled in London, travels to Rose Cottage to retrieve some family papers for her grandmother. Curious as to the changes and the welcome she'll find, she is relieved when, at first glance, everything seems just as she remembers it. But she soon finds disturbing evidence of a break-in. The papers are missing. The village is alive with gossip. Did her elderly neighbors, suspected of being witches, really see nighttime prowlers and ghosts in the cottage garden?
Title: Rose Cottage
Author: Mary Stewart
Genre: Mystery, Historical
Publisher: Ivy Books
Rating: ♨♨♨ (3 cups - Not quite Stewart's best but it is scenic and delightful.)