I remembered reading Mary Stewart as a teenager and I remembered enjoying her books. I hadn't read any for probably thirty years, so when I found four pristine paperbacks at a used book store when we were in Boston last fall, I snatched them up. (I bought them, I didn't steal them!)
But I did this book a complete disservice. It was my paperback bathtub book. I read it in small bits while soaking in a bubble bath, so it took me several months to read. I am a clean person, but there are limits to how much time I can stay in the tub. Or how often I can use bathing as an excuse for reading. I sometimes take my 'bathtub book' out of the bathroom, but I was having trouble getting interested in this one. Finally, I decided I needed to fish or cut bait and I took the book out of the bathroom and into the living room (and bedroom). It turned out to be a cracking good read.
A young woman goes to the north of England and is spotted by a young man, Con, who mistakes her for his cousin Annabelle. Annabelle disappeared mysteriously and completely eight years before. Everyone assumes she's dead. Except her grandfather, who is ill and is still hoping she'll reappear. Con (an appropriate name for him) convinces her to pretend to be Annabelle in order to inherit her grandfather's farm and money. Con is in the will, too, but is afraid that the old man will leave most of the assets to the old man's younger grand-daughter Julie.
So Mary Grey, well schooled in the details of Annabelle's life by Con and his sister Lisa, assumes the role. She does the job very well - until she runs into Annabelle's former lover.
The last fifty pages are what make it a cracking good read. There's a storm, a few storm related accidents, a young stallion, a sort of raging river, and a final twist. And a haymow full of kittens. What more could you ask?
Stewart's writing is very good. Her attention to detail is spot on. As a former rider, I was impressed that all the details about horses and riding were absolutely right. She knew horses. Her descriptions of landscapes and table settings and buildings are fabulous. I could smell the flowers and hear the raindrops. Now I'm eager to read her other three novels waiting on my TBR stack. I will, however, give these my undivided attention.