On Our Bookshelves – Rose Cottage

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NOVEL: Rose Cottage

AUTHOR: Mary Stewart

YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 1997 

REVIEW:

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There are a great many books that depict English villages as full of sinister activity and populated by murderers, blackmailers, and nasty writers of poison pen letters.  Miss Marple’s home of St. Mary Mead (described in various Agatha Christie novels) as William L. de Andrea noted, “has put on a pageant of human depravity rivaled only by that of Sodom and Gomorrah.”  Frances Iles in Malice Aforethought takes us to a gorgeous village full of unlikable people and gossips, and Anthony Horowitz in Magpie Murders shows us his version of small-minded people in a small place. And in a typical Mary Stewart novel, there is excitement and adventure and danger (with a satisfying romance thrown in).  

Rose Cottage is different. Yes, there is some mystery here: a break-in, some missing jewelry and documents, a ghost sighting, strangers prowling at night.  But the whole thing is gentle.  Our heroine, Kate Herrick, a war widow, never seems to be in any serious peril, as she returns home in 1947 on an errand for her grandmother, and is welcomed by old friends.  Everyone in the village is kind. The talkative old ladies wish her nothing but the best.  Lady Brandon from the House is noblesse oblige personified.  The only villain in this story is dead. It’s a rose-tinted, nostalgic look back in time (the narrator is Kate herself, fifty years in the future, reminiscing about her youth): “Why was it that one always regretted change? Things were not made to stay fixed, preserved in amber. Perhaps the only acceptable amber was memory.”

Some of her past history is cleared up and her future looks promising as we take our leave of Kate, who has found her once and future home. It’s a fitting and sweet end to Mary Stewart’s writing career, the last novel she published (in 1997, at age 80), comforting as a cozy cup of tea on a cold day. 

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RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): 3 Whistles

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HOW TO PURCHASE: Amazon

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Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.

Laura can be contacted at laura@newswhistle.com

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Lead-In Image – Photo by Loverna Journey on Unsplash

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