Reading A Few Old Friends

By Sherry — Fall seems to have settled in to Northern Virginia

I’ve been reading a few old friends, books I loved when I was in high school, some of them I read over and over.

img_0951Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart

I must have read this book a gazillion times and was delighted to find it in the library. It was originally published in the mid-fifties. Here’s the blurb: A governess in a French château encounters an apparent plot against her young charge’s life in this unforgettably haunting and beautifully written suspense novel. When lovely Linda Martin first arrives at Château Valmy as an English governess to the nine-year-old Count Philippe de Valmy, the opulence and history surrounding her seems like a wondrous, ecstatic dream. But a palpable terror is crouching in the shadows. Philippe’s uncle, Leon de Valmy, is the epitome of charm, yet dynamic and arrogant—his paralysis little hindrance as he moves noiselessly in his wheelchair from room to room. Only his son Raoul, a handsome, sardonic man who drives himself and his car with equally reckless abandon, seems able to stand up to him. To Linda, Raoul is an enigma—though irresistibly attracted to him, she senses some dark twist in his nature. When an accident deep in the woods nearly kills Linda’s innocent charge, she begins to wonder if someone has deadly plans for the young count. I loved re-reading this and was surprised how much I remembered. I guess that’s what happens when you read a book over and over. The story still translated well and didn’t seem too dated. And yes, I’ll probably read it again.

img_1091Deep Summer by Gwen Bristow

I bought this book in high school. It’s the first of a trilogy and I used to have all three. Through all my moves I managed to hang on the this one my favorite of the three. It was originally published in 1937. My copy is from the 11th printing in 1972. Here’s the blurb: For his service in the king’s army during the French and Indian War, Judith Sheramy’s father, a Puritan New Englander, is granted a parcel of land in far-off Louisiana. As the family ventures down the Mississippi to make a new home in the wilderness, Judith meets Philip Larne, an adventurer who travels in the finest clothes Judith has ever seen. He is a rogue, a killer, and a thief—and the first thing he steals is Judith’s heart. Three thousand acres of untamed jungle, overrun with jaguars, Indians, and pirates, wait for Philip in Louisiana. He and Judith will struggle with their stormy marriage and the challenges of the American Revolution as they strive to build an empire for future generations. This one has been harder to read because of all the slavery but Bristow does a good job of making each character fully-fleshed. Perhaps that is why I have it difficult to re-read.

huntersgreens192x300Hunter’s Green by Phyllis A. Whitney

This is another book I read and read again. Here’s the blurb: When Eve North returns to Athmore after three years’ separation from her husband Justin, she finds the great estate-and Justin himself-vastly changed. Eve too has changed. She knows now the mistakes she made in her marriage in the past, and she now dares to win back the love of her own husband. Like another Eve, she wanders into the gardens of Athmore, unsuspecting. Yet she has reason to fear. Justin’s brother Marc had once before placed her in a compromising position in that place of secrets-the green velvet room. Justin had believed Marc and never forgiven her. Now Marc waits for her at Athmore. Then, too, she has been warned that Justin has made up his mind at last to divorce her in order to marry Alicia Daven-the cool, serene Alicia whose quiet assurance comes from generations at Grovesend, and who has always taunted the American Eve with her tempting of Justin. Old Daniel-just before he is sent to his death-tries to warn Eve. Eve finds herself entrapped on a chessboard of evil, unsure of her next move, yet aware that the black rook will move again-this time to destroy her. I haven’t re-read this yet. One thing I remember is that when they find a body, they grab a mirror and hold it under the person’s nose to see if any breath fogs the mirror. I’m looking forward to reading it again.

I also remember reading a lot of Victoria Holt. I just found out when looking up her books for this post that Victoria Holt is a pen name for a prolific writer, Eleanor Hibbert. I remember some of the titles, The Shivering Sands, The Secret Woman, and The Pride of the Peacock among others. I found two books at the library that I haven’t read but look forward to reading.

Readers: Do you read old favorites? What titles have you re-read?





42 Thoughts

  1. I never reread entire books. I think I am the exception. I just have SO many new books to read. I do, however, go back and read openings and endings in books I loved by authors I respect. Book, chapter, even scene starts and finishes. Learn from the masters!

  2. I am a Gwen Bristow fan, too, but my re-read is Calico Palace–the Gold Rush and history of San Francisco. My favorite re-read is Nancy Mitford, whose work I adore, esp. The Pursuit of Love. I was in love with the place and period long before Downton Abbey!

  3. I loved Nine Coaches Waiting, and Moonspinners, also by Mary Stewart, and Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne DuMaurier. But I haven’t reread any of them because I’m worried I won’t still love them.

  4. I loved Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney. A few years ago I saw a couple of Holt books at a yard sale and couldn’t help buying them–and of course, re-reading them. I thought I read all of Holt’s books, but the two above don’t look familiar. I’ll have to check them out!

  5. I am now rereading Charlotte MacLeod and enjoying her very much. I have all the Gwen Bristow books, Calico Palace was one of the latest, but I also enjoyed the trio and Jubilee Trail. I think my favorite Bristow was Celia Garth. Treehaven by Kathleen Norris was a favorite of hers – way back when.

  6. Mary Stewart – Madam, Can You Talk was one of the first I read of hers and I periodically re-read it. Winter is an especially good time to hunker down and nestle with comfort books, nostalgic re-reading. And winter is coming!

  7. Mary Stewart was a favorite of mine, and I particularly loved Airs Above the Ground. I just looked her up in Wikipedia and was astonished to see that she just died in 2014 at the age of 98.

  8. I read Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, and Phyllis A Whitney before but I haven’t read the ones that you mentioned here- more books to be added to the TBR pile!

    I re-read Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters- particularly when I need a life-break! As a kid, I was perfectly content to re-read books but now my focus is more on reading the new stuff- I sometimes think we have too many options! 🙂

  9. Thanks, Sherry, for shining a light on some of my favorite authors. It was like walking down memory lane. I remember convincing my husband to drive the narrow lanes in Cornwall one summer so that we could find Frenchmen’s Creek. We eventually found it, but only after having some harrowing experiences driving along narrow lanes lined with tall hedgerows. It was worth it.

  10. I reread very few books. I’d love to, I just don’t have the time with all the new books calling my name.

    Exceptions are some favorite books from my childhood that I’ve been slowly rereading and reviewing. (Only two more Trixie Belden books to go!) I’m also about to finish up rereading the Mrs. Pollifax books for reviewing purposes. Then I hope to get to reread more books by Sandy Dengler, another favorite or mine, this time from college, that I would like to review. And some of Bodie Thoene’s early books are calling my name for reviewing purposes.

    Are you sensing a theme on the books I’d like to reread? All books I enjoyed before I started reviewing. And some of those are works of Christian fiction and not necessarily mysteries.

    1. I’m going to have to read a Trixie Belden! You’ve intrigued me. And I love the Mrs. Pollifax books! I want to reread some of those too!

  11. I love to revisit old friends, I recently reread the first two books of the Trixie Belden Mystery series. Those were the books that not only introduced me to mysteries but that actually got me to want to read. I have also recently reread the Rick Brant series; It is very dated but still enjoyable. I love the Mrs. Polifax books, especially the early ones and read the first one many many times. I love Airs Above the Ground and Mary Stewart’s Arthurian Legend except for Wicked Days and have read the trilogy over and over and I am not sure what it was about Touch Not the Cat but that one drew me back repeatedly. I have had to replace Dead Sea Cipher twice; it is the only Elizabeth Peters book I liked. Quite a few of Dick Francis’s books are still on my revisit list. I used to reread the whole JD Robb series each time a new book came out but I can’t keep up any more. For newer books I have read each of JD Nixon’s two series, Heller and Little Town four times, Shelly Fredman’s No Such as a… 3 times each. I only discovered Darynda Jones and Charlie Davidson about two years ago but I have read that series twice! Now days, I have more books than time but some old friends are worth pulling back for.

  12. Sherry and I clearly share a love of the Gothics! Someday, I swear I’m going to write one. I don’t have much time to reread (or read anything non-work-related at all) these days but when I do it’s often Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters, Bronte, or Austen.

  13. Interesting to see how many people mention Mary Stewart. Me, too. This Rough Magic has been my favorite for too many decades to count, and My Brother Michael right behind it. Great suspense, powerful sense of place, charm- they have it all. I sometimes re-read parts of Georgette Heyer’s best historicals. She still makes me laugh out loud…and when it comes to setting up a complex smashing final scene, with many characters, witty dialogue and satisfying conclusions. ..I’m still trying to learn how she does it. (Plus, guaranteed late night comfort reading from both Stewart and Heyer) They’ve held up where other favorites of my youth really don’t.

  14. I seldom re-read books because there are so many new ones to read. But there are two that I truly love to go back to: Rebecca and House on the Strand. Both books just take me to another world for a while. And isn’t that what fiction reading is all about?

  15. The older I get the rarer it is for me to reread books. This post makes me want to revisit some books though! I LOVED Phyllis A. Whitney and Victoria Holt when I was in high school. My favorite was The Spring of the Tiger by Victoria Holt. I’ve also been trying to find a copy of Nine Coaches Waiting for awhile. The last book I reread was Rebecca- probably one of my all time favorites.

    1. Another Rebecca fan! And my husband loves the book, too. And then there are the books I unwittingly re-read because I forgot I read them until I’m two-thirds of the way through. My husband says I really only need 30 books and I can keep rotating them. I don’t think he’s far off!

  16. What fun reading about old favorites written by Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney, and Victoria Holt! Time to search my library and its network for some of these stories to enjoy again. Nine Coaches Waiting, where are you?!!

  17. I really enjoyed this post. I love Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt – I have read and re-read all of their books, and they never get old. Mary Stewart’s This Rough Magic, My Brother Michael and The Moonspinners are some of my favorites, and I really liked Victoria Holt’s Shadow of the Lynx ~

  18. Lucky you for finding Victoria Holt books in the library! I have been trying to look for her books in local bookstores. To no avail. My favorite is Pride of the Peacock. It was also the first one I read back in high school. I didn’t understand it then, but read it again a few years later and saw the beauty of her writing.

Comments are closed.