Monday, April 7, 2014

The Ivy Tree

The title: The Ivy Tree 
The author: Mary Stewart
Publication: HarperCollins, 1961 
Got it from: Amazon

A few years ago I reviewed Mary Stewart's marvelous Touch Not the Cat, and hearing that The Ivy Tree was a similar story, I was eager to read this one.  Mary Grey is a young woman on vacation to the north of England, where she is mistaken for Annabel Winslow, another young woman who ran away from home eight years ago and was presumed dead.  Annabel's distant cousin Connor hatches a plan with Mary: she will impersonate Annabel in exchange for a share of the inheritance given by the dying Winslow grandfather.

Like Touch Not the Cat, this is a classic Gothic mystery, steeped in atmosphere and description.  But compared to that story, this one was a big meh for me.  There's a Big Secret at the heart of the plot which is fairly easy to guess if you know anything about this kind of novel.  Unlike in Cat, the revelation of the true hero at the end of the novel wasn't a happy surprise.  One of the reasons Cat worked for me was that the romantic revelation was a huge payoff for all the slow pacing beforehand.  In Ivy Tree, there's the slow pacing but no payoff.  I didn't dislike the book but I also wasn't rushing to read it.  I think it would much better suit someone looking for an old-fashioned Gothic story.

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