Monday, 11 September 2000

Mary Stewart: Rose Cottage (1997)

Edition: Coronet, 1998
Review number: 611

In recent years, more or less since she wrote the Merlin trilogy, Mary Stewart's novels have become more romances and less thrillers. Rose Cottage is the most recent, and bears a distinct resemblance to Thornyhold, from just a few years earlier. Both are about returns to childhood homes, and both are about the protagonist discovering her true self, coming to new understanding about her family, both have an old fashioned atmosphere, and both are set in small English villages.

Rose Cottage is set in the late forties, and is the story of Kate Herrick's return to the small house where she grew up, to sort out some items belonging to her grandmother, now living in Scotland, before the cottage is sold. When she arrives, she discovers that some things have gone, that someone has been digging in the garden, and that an elderly neighbour believes she has seen Kate's dead mother.

Kate's mother is the important person in the story, for the major part of what Kate does is to find out more about her; after having her daughter by an unknown father, she left the house at the insistence of an unforgiving religious aunt, before being killed in a road accident. That is all Kate really knows about her, and she is driven by a desire to understand her mother and find out the identity of her father.

Rose Cottage is a gentle, warm hearted novel; hardly challenging, but just the sort of thing to read when ill.

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