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Rose Cottage Hardcover – August 20, 1997
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Mary Stewart launched a world full of romance readers, and she invented romantic suspense. In this beautifully written gothic, Kate Herrick, a young widow in war-torn London, returns to her family home of Rose Cottage to retrieve family mementos for her Gran. When Kate arrives, she finds that the mementos have mysteriously disappeared. While looking for answers to age-old family mysteries (her single mother supposedly ran off with gypsies) Kate rekindles friendships with neighbors, kinsman, and old childhood companions. The bittersweet memories that Kate examines help her to redefine herself as a widow and as a young woman with a great need for family ties.
From Kirkus Reviews
For the frazzled Anglophile, the countryside-enamored reader, here's a bit of romance, light mystery, and the reassuring stability of a timeless English village--in short, another Stewart comforter (The Stormy Petrel, 1991, etc.). Here, a young widow returns in 1947 to her childhood home and the enigma of her parentage. Kate Herrick, ne Welland, who lost her husband in the war, is summoned to Scotland by her beloved grandmother, formerly a cook in the household of Sir James Brandon. She asks Kate to return to their native village in the north of England, where Kate was raised by Gran and severe Aunt Betsy. Kate's mother Lilias, who'd become pregnant while serving at the Brandons' estate, had left Kate at six, never to return. Gran had told Kate that she had ``gone with the gipsies,'' but some years later Kate learned that her mother and new husband had been killed in Ireland in a bus accident. Now, Kate is to come again to Gran's Rose Cottage, long shuttered, charged with shipping some of Gran's belongings to her in Scotland and with locating a neatly hidden safe containing family items of sentimental value. But someone has broken into the cottage, ripped out the safe, and removed its contents. Then there are strange rumors of odd appearances, generated mainly by the ``Witches Corner''--comprised of two gossipy ladies, as well as a feathery individual who's sure she has ``the sight'' and has seen a dead woman digging in the cottage yard and piling flowers on the grave of mean Aunt Betsy. With the help of young Davey, son of old family friends, and scraps of information from neighbors, Kate will at last discover an absent mother and a name for an unknown father. Soothing as a warm brew on a cold night are Stewart's satisfying denouements--and environs: ``. . . willows and wild roses, cuckoo-pint and king cups, and a wood pigeon crooning in the elm.'' Mild doings in enchanting surroundings. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Published in 1997, this is one of Mary Stewart's final efforts. The Rose Cottage isn't quite as good as The Ivy Tree or Nine Coaches Waiting, but it is a wonderful romantic suspense novel full of the atmospheric gothic elements that I enjoy and that could be expected from this author. It is a fast read, in first-person narrative and good historical aspects centered on post-war England. The secondary characters are great. The heroine is Stewart's special brand of courageous and naïve found in all of the novels I've read so far. Davey is also Stewart's standard alpha male. The twists and turns are well woven and developed -- better than most romantic suspense novels written by today's authors. All in all, The Rose Cottage is an enjoyable read. However, I'll stick to Stewart's older efforts from now on. I still have My Brother Michael and look forward to reading it soon.