By Sherry — Fall seems to have settled in to Northern Virginia
I’ve been reading a few old friends, books I loved when I was in high school, some of them I read over and over.
Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart
I must have read this book a gazillion times and was delighted to find it in the library. It was originally published in the mid-fifties. Here’s the blurb: A governess in a French château encounters an apparent plot against her young charge’s life in this unforgettably haunting and beautifully written suspense novel. When lovely Linda Martin first arrives at Château Valmy as an English governess to the nine-year-old Count Philippe de Valmy, the opulence and history surrounding her seems like a wondrous, ecstatic dream. But a palpable terror is crouching in the shadows. Philippe’s uncle, Leon de Valmy, is the epitome of charm, yet dynamic and arrogant—his paralysis little hindrance as he moves noiselessly in his wheelchair from room to room. Only his son Raoul, a handsome, sardonic man who drives himself and his car with equally reckless abandon, seems able to stand up to him. To Linda, Raoul is an enigma—though irresistibly attracted to him, she senses some dark twist in his nature. When an accident deep in the woods nearly kills Linda’s innocent charge, she begins to wonder if someone has deadly plans for the young count. I loved re-reading this and was surprised how much I remembered. I guess that’s what happens when you read a book over and over. The story still translated well and didn’t seem too dated. And yes, I’ll probably read it again.
Deep Summer by Gwen Bristow
I bought this book in high school. It’s the first of a trilogy and I used to have all three. Through all my moves I managed to hang on the this one my favorite of the three. It was originally published in 1937. My copy is from the 11th printing in 1972. Here’s the blurb: For his service in the king’s army during the French and Indian War, Judith Sheramy’s father, a Puritan New Englander, is granted a parcel of land in far-off Louisiana. As the family ventures down the Mississippi to make a new home in the wilderness, Judith meets Philip Larne, an adventurer who travels in the finest clothes Judith has ever seen. He is a rogue, a killer, and a thief—and the first thing he steals is Judith’s heart. Three thousand acres of untamed jungle, overrun with jaguars, Indians, and pirates, wait for Philip in Louisiana. He and Judith will struggle with their stormy marriage and the challenges of the American Revolution as they strive to build an empire for future generations. This one has been harder to read because of all the slavery but Bristow does a good job of making each character fully-fleshed. Perhaps that is why I have it difficult to re-read.
Hunter’s Green by Phyllis A. Whitney
This is another book I read and read again. Here’s the blurb: When Eve North returns to Athmore after three years’ separation from her husband Justin, she finds the great estate-and Justin himself-vastly changed. Eve too has changed. She knows now the mistakes she made in her marriage in the past, and she now dares to win back the love of her own husband. Like another Eve, she wanders into the gardens of Athmore, unsuspecting. Yet she has reason to fear. Justin’s brother Marc had once before placed her in a compromising position in that place of secrets-the green velvet room. Justin had believed Marc and never forgiven her. Now Marc waits for her at Athmore. Then, too, she has been warned that Justin has made up his mind at last to divorce her in order to marry Alicia Daven-the cool, serene Alicia whose quiet assurance comes from generations at Grovesend, and who has always taunted the American Eve with her tempting of Justin. Old Daniel-just before he is sent to his death-tries to warn Eve. Eve finds herself entrapped on a chessboard of evil, unsure of her next move, yet aware that the black rook will move again-this time to destroy her. I haven’t re-read this yet. One thing I remember is that when they find a body, they grab a mirror and hold it under the person’s nose to see if any breath fogs the mirror. I’m looking forward to reading it again.
I also remember reading a lot of Victoria Holt. I just found out when looking up her books for this post that Victoria Holt is a pen name for a prolific writer, Eleanor Hibbert. I remember some of the titles, The Shivering Sands, The Secret Woman, and The Pride of the Peacock among others. I found two books at the library that I haven’t read but look forward to reading.
Readers: Do you read old favorites? What titles have you re-read?