Sometimes, the best summer read doesn’t mean the latest best seller. It isn’t the glossy beach read at the checkout aisle of the grocer’s or the week’s best picks from the Sunday paper. Sometimes, the best summer read is hiding in the library’s stacks, featured on a special shelf in a library, or on your own bookshelf - just waiting to be discovered.
I have been meaning to read something of Mary Stewart’s since learning of her recent passing in May. Although I have seen some of the movies that were made from her books, especially The Moon-spinners (did you go through a Hayley Mill’s phase when you were young?), I am sorry to say that I had never read anything by Mary Stewart – until now, that is.
“Rose Cottage” was displayed with a few other Mary Stewart books on top of a shelf highlighting recently deceased authors at the La Grange library. I already had four books, three magazines and an audiobook in my arms, but, how could I resist this cover? Of course, I couldn’t, and it came home with me, where it languished on my bedside table until one day last week.
I was “down for the count” with a bit of an upper respiratory bug, had just finished “Those Who Save Us”, by Jenna Blum, and I needed something a little lighter to read. It was obviously time to visit Rose Cottage.
From the very first paragraph, I was quietly drawn in to the post WWII English countryside. This is a gentle mystery as Kathy Welland, now the war widow Kate Herrick, goes home to Rose Cottage to clear out a few of her grandmother’s things from the home Kathy grew up in. Specifically, Gran wants the contents of small box in the hidey spot, papered over near the fireplace.
Kathy is welcomed back to the village with open arms and is instantly surrounded by warm comforts of home. She quickly realizes, however, that someone has been inside the cottage when she finds the box, but not the key. Once pried open, the box is empty. The ladies from the “Witches Corner” have their own opinions on what has occurred, and Kathy gets help from Davey, a childhood friend. Long held secrets of Kathy’s missing mother are eventually revealed as the story unfolds much like the petals on the old rambling roses in the quiet English countryside.
“Rose Cottage” was a soothing balm for my weary, cough-wracked body and just what I needed to while away the time spent on the couch, looking out at the last of the summer rose blooms. I have learned that this was written later in Mary Stewart’s life. Not considered her best, it was the best one for me at this juncture.
Have you read Mary Stewart? Do you have a favorite to suggest?