Tuesday, 16 May 2000

Mary Stewart: Thunder on the Right (1957)

Edition: Coronet, 1992
Review number: 503

Typical of Stewart's thrillers, portraying a young woman uncovering a plot in a glamorous location, Thunder on the Right is perhaps not one of her best novels, but it is still well worth reading.

Jennifer Silver, an English artist, travels to a remote village in the Pyrenees to visit her half-French cousin, who is thinking about retiring to a nunnery in the area. However, when she arrives at the Valle des Orages, Jennifer is told that Gillian is dead following a car crash, and is shown a grave being decorated with the gentians she loved. Jennifer is confused by this, as her cousin was colour blind and would never have commented on the blue of the flowers, and she gradually becomes convinced that the dead woman is not her cousin - and therefore that Gillian has disappeared.

The story is complicated by a romantic subplot almost identical to that of Stewart's previous novel, Wildfire at Midnight. Jennifer's father has sent a suitor that he approves of (though her mother does not) to the village without her knowledge. This repetition of ideas from earlier novels is the major flaw of Thunder on the Right; these devices were far fresher the first time around.

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