- Series: Rediscovered Classics
- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Chicago Review Press; 2007 Priinting or Later edition (May 1, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781556526183
- ISBN-13: 978-1556526183
- ASIN: 1556526180
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 182 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Nine Coaches Waiting (Rediscovered Classics) Paperback – May 1, 2006
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On Thursday, October 12, 2017, I discovered that all of her Gothics were on sale for Kindle and in a rash moment, purchased them all.
I devoured Nine Coaches Waiting and to my delight, I still love as much as I did the first time and maybe a bit more as I now have life experience and can appreciate certain nuances now that I didn't back in the day. Much of the reason I love it is not only due to a complex plot and well-developed characters, but because even her minor characters have a few details that make them memorable. Another reason is the gorgeous way she writes. Her descriptions are vivid and I feel as if I could navigate that part of France based solely on her descriptions of the geography.
Linda learns to love poor, lonely, orphaned Philippe, who's in the care of his aunt and uncle, after the death of his parents. She is also delighted with the French countryside and is on her way to falling in love with handsome, somewhat brooding, Raoul, 30-year-old cousin of Philippe and son of Philippe's guardian. Then she's horrified when she begins to feel that Philippe's life is in danger. Who can she trust to help her keep him safe? Even Raoul may perhaps be involved in the plots against the boy.
Suspicious characters abound. Both Linda and the reader will find it difficult to know just who Linda should confide in. So there's some unpredictability here. And Stewart's writing skills keep the reader on edge at the most suspenseful moments. Not to mention the love story (with just sexual tension and kisses) that was oh so romantic to my 13-year-old self and is just as good in my ripe old age. Mustn't forget to mention how beautifully Stewart is able to capture in words the exotic locales she writes about. You feel yourself right there with the characters. Stewart is a Founding Mother of the Romantic Suspense genre and I don't think she has been surpassed yet in quality of her stories.
Nine Coaches Waiting is written with a beautiful use of language, and a sense of place and time which evokes safety, even when characters are in mortal danger.
The novel takes place mainly in the south-east of France, in a chateau between the cities of Lyon and Geneva. Our heroine is the half-French governess, Linda, who has been hired to take care of nine-year-old aristocrat and heir to the family fortune, Philippe. Linda, who is an orphan, arrives at the Chateau Valmy with hopes of reconnecting with her roots. Instead, she finds that danger, and romance, lurk in the shadows of the manor.
I write the previous sentence with tongue in cheek, because, although Nine Coaches Waiting is unabashedly a classic romantic-suspense novel, it manages to avoid saccharine clichés common to the genre. Mary Stewart's writing is exquisite, her evocative descriptions of the French countryside made me never want to leave that fictional place. The novel is written in a slightly old-fashioned tone that manages to create a sense of escapism, rather than irrelevance.
Furthermore, Stewart's characters are eminently relatable; her heroine, Linda manages to be good and kind without being annoying. In this way, Stewart's world-view is a welcome relief from some of the more cynical writing I have read of late.
I think there is a trend in current fiction and film in which it is considered "uncool" or unrealistic to have characters that are basically decent, or live in a world which is good. It seems that there is a dichotomy between fanaticism, with unrealistic expectations of perfection, and "real-life," in which characters are written as deeply flawed and selfish. I very much enjoy reading books with antiheroes, or characters struggling with inner demons, but at the same time, the world these fictional, despairing characters inhabit is only one view of a world that none of us can truly understand in its entirety.
What I'm saying, in a rather longwinded way, is that, in Nine Coaches Waiting, I pleasantly re-experienced a world that was ultimately hopeful, without being Pollyannaish. I enjoyed Nine Coaches Waiting so much that I stopped reading all other books (I usually read 3 or 4 at a time) and can truly say that I was reading the story for pleasure. As an adult, who tends to see some level of productivity in everything I do, it was a welcome to relief to have a fun read.
As a final note, although I gave a five-star rating to Nine Coaches Waiting, this doesn't mean I thought the book was perfect. Present-day readers may find that male/female dynamics in the book occasionally seem dated. At one point, Linda makes some sort of comment that she is "only a woman."
Despite this, I enjoyed Nine Coaches Waiting immensely. Unlike The Crystal Cave, which I had read a year ago, and which left me cold, this novel had a lot of heart. I loved it so much that I purchased it for my best friend for Christmas, and am now reading Thornyhold by Mary Stewart. I am very glad to have discovered the novels of this wonderful storyteller.