She is “a born storyteller” according to her unofficial fan site, and I agree! Mary Stewart is an author I have enjoyed for many many years. I loved her Merlin trilogy, an interesting look at the Arthurian legend. And years ago I read 7 of her other books of fiction, and enjoyed each one. So when I found one of her books that I hadn’t read yet on the shelf in our little library down the street, I grabbed it, knowing it would be a good read.
Thornyhold is what I would call a “quiet” book. There’s not a lot of action or drama. It’s the story of a young girl who lives a bleak and lonely life, quite neglected by her busy and non-involved parents. A cousin of her mother comes into her life sporadically as she is growing up, but each of those encounters was a breath of life for this young girl. Thornyhold is that cousin’s house, and when she dies, she leaves it to Gilly, now a young woman. Moving into Thornyhold is a precious gift of both freedom and independence, and as Gilly explores the house and garden, she finds mysterious and unexplained things about her cousin’s life. Was her cousin a witch?
The house, itself, is a major character in the book, and I loved the descriptions of the house and the garden. I also enjoyed the journey of self-discovery of this main character, and I thought it was a sweet story, nothing dramatic, just interesting and life-affirming.