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« Reading List, Week of June 10, 2012 | Main | Sale: Laura Kinsale's Lessons in French »

Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart

On Friday each week, I’ll try my best to do a review of a book that is at least 15 years old. Last week, I read Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart, which was published in 1958.

In the foreword of the book, Sandra Brown writes that Nine Coaches Waiting “not only delighted readers, but also defined the romantic suspense genre by artfully and seamlessly combining the elements of mystery and gothic tales with a classic love story.” I found that statement from Brown to be entirely true, and the statement pretty nearly sums up everything that I liked about the book.

In this story, Linda travels back to her home country of France to act as a governess for a nine-year-old count who has lost both of his parents in an accident. Count Philippe lives with his aunt and uncle in the French countryside while he waits to inherit his chateau, and Linda quickly begins to care for the timid boy.

She’s also begun to care for Philippe’s cousin, Raoul.

It doesn’t take long for Linda to recognize that Philippe’s aunt and uncle have plans to overthrow the boy and seize his title and lands. Before any harm can come to Philippe, Linda packs him up and takes off in the middle of the night, which sets the two characters off fleeing for their lives.

Linda is under quite a bit of stress to begin with, as she’s attempting to save Philippe from his supposed protectors. But no matter how hard she tries to keep a clear head, she simply can’t help but wonder if Raoul is in on the murder plot, as well.

The beauty of this story is in it’s simplicity. Nine Coaches Waiting is written in a voice that isn’t commonly found among new novels today. When read individually, the sentences seem to be a bit boring or bland, but when read together the prose gives the reader a real sense of what is happening behind the scenes. Stewart does a fabulous job of showing rather than telling the reader, and I think that’s one aspect that makes this book so enjoyable.

My only complaint is that I wasn’t really sure why Linda fell for Raoul. I didn’t see the emotional connection there, and I really didn’t feel any buildup in their relationship. I don’t want to dwell on it too much, though, because I don’t think the real story was whether Linda loved Raoul. Rather, it centered on whether she could trust him.

Title: Nine Coaches Waiting | By: Mary Stewart | Publisher: Chicago Review Press, 1058 | ISBN: 9781556526183 | RLB Grade: A- | Find it on Amazon: Nine Coaches Waiting

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