Touch Not the Cat, by Mary Stewart

>> Thursday, October 19, 2006

Touch Not the Cat is late-ishMary Stewart; a book from the mid-70s, rather than the 50s and very early 60s, like the 5 titles I'd read before it.

She had the "gift" The gift of the Ashleys - the power of thought transference, ESP. Bryony had known of it since childhood. She had been getting messages for years. It was always the same voice. A dear voice. A man's voice.

She began to think of him as her mysterious lover, her "psychic" lover. But it was years before she was to discover whose voice it was -and whose love she was waiting for.

Now it was telling her something she did not want to hear. Telling her that something terrible had happened. Something about her father.

It was too late when Bryony arrived at Ashley Court. Her father was dead -the victim of a strange hit-and-run accident. But his last words had been for her. To warn her she too was in danger...
Very nice! A lovely combination of mystery, romance and an intriguing touch of the paranormal. A B.

Bryony Ashley is alone in her room in Madeira when she receives the news that her father was in an accident and she needs to go to him. Did the phone ring, did a letter arrive? Nope. Since childhood, Bryony has been in mental contact with a man, a man she's come to consider her psychic lover. She's not sure who he is, exactly, but she knows he's an Ashley, like her, so the possibilities are limited.

Anyway, after her "lover" tells her the news, Bryony heads to her father's deathbed, in Bavaria, where he'd been staying for his health (and that's the end of Madeira, damn it! I'd hoped for a bit more description of the place, since Stewart is so wonderful with settings). Unfortunately, Jon Ashley didn't survive the hit-and-run accident, and when Bryony arrives, all she finds is a transcription of his very cryptic last words, warning her of danger.

Ashley Court, the beautiful white elephant in which Bryony spent her childhood, is entailed, so it goes to her uncle, but she hasn't been left penniless. She still has her unentailed cottage right next to it, and so she goes there to settle all those matters that are left and decide what to do (and that's the end of Bavaria, as well. *Hmph!*).

Bryony also hopes to finally find out just who her mysterious lover is. And on the very first night, she becomes aware that he's right there. But that's not the only mystery Bryony needs to solve. There's her father's last words to decipher, and all's not well at Ashley Court, with various objects going missing, from small, portable objects d'art to seemingly worthless parrish registers, and unless Bryony is very careful and makes the right judgments, she could be in grave danger.

I don't want to give too much away here, because half the fun is to discover what's going on as Bryony does, but I'm just going to say I loved the combination of old family secrets and history and modern suspense. When the resolution comes, it all makes perfect sense, and thinking back, I could see all the little clues that I hadn't paid attention to.

Speaking of the resolution, the scenes in which all is revealed were probably the weakest part of the book. Not the actual revelations, because those come out perfectly, but the "suspense" portion and sort-of action scenes which come afterwords, which I found simply confusing.

I didn't mind all that much, because the rest was lovely. I enjoyed the romance very much, though I do think Stewart could have done a bit more with the psychic connection. But it's all very romantic, anyway. I especially liked how, like Bryony, her lover had also been waiting for her -in every way!


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