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Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart

Rose Cottage (1997)

by Mary Stewart

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Always lovely to spend a little time with Mary Stewart. She is one of my favorite authors, and while this is not one of my favorites of her books, it is sweet and soothing and a happy place to sink into. I am often at a loss to say what it is that makes me love reading Stewart so much. She is unique and brings to her work a kind of homecoming feeling, like being wrapped in a warm blanket on a cold winter’s night and having a loving mother offer you a cup of homemade soup.

Kate Henrick, formerly known as Kathy Welland, returns to her childhood home to collect a few things for her Grandmother and sort out the closing of Rose Cottage. She runs into a number of old friends and neighbors, including a handsome young man with whom she shared her school years. There is a minor mystery going on, a bit of the past to sort out, and a struggle for this young woman to figure out if she is Kate, the woman she has been since leaving this village, or Kathy, the woman she was when she lived here.

Stewart brings her inimitable writing style to this novel, as to all her others. Her descriptions of the gardens and animals alone would make the read worthwhile.

The burn, lapsing in whispers, is, apart from the bees, the only sound in the day. Both are drowned in the sudden ‘hear ye, hear ye’ preliminary whistle of a curlew, and the the sky is filled, it seems with the beautiful long, liquid call that is perhaps the loveliest, the most thrilling of all birds’ songs.

And, there is wisdom sprinkled in among the flowing descriptions of nature and architecture:

Why was it that one always regretted change? Things were not made to stay fixed, preserved in amber. Perhaps the only acceptable amber was memory. I had ‘helped’ in this kitchen so many times. I could remember when the table tops were above my eye-level, and I shared the floor under the table with the dog, waiting, both of us, for the piece of cake or biscuit to be handed down and shared. The kitchen, the heart of the house, with its warmth and its wonderful smells of baking, or the delectable smell of roasting meat, and the sizzle and spit as the joint was speared and turned in the pan. The clashing of pots and dishes and the cheerful chatter of women’s voices. A whole world, once. And now changed, and soon to be changed again. And, surely, for the better? One had to believe that the world was changing for the better, or else why live? That, arguably, was one of the facets of what Christians called faith?

Only a person who has never sat is a kitchen that was the center of a family’s life, helped make a Sunday dinner with a grandmother and a mother and sisters chattering all about them, or stood in a house that was full of memories but about to be sold away, could fail to understand the sentiments expressed here.

Along the way, Mary Stewart throws out a few very well-placed red herrings (I gobbled them up), builds a sweet bit of romance, and makes you feel as if the world, no matter how topsy-turvy it might seem, can be put right again. Perhaps there is another key to her charm, she makes you believe in happy endings. ( )
1 vote phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
Mary Stewart (1916 – 2014) was the author of numerous romantic suspense novels that were especially popular in the 1950s and 1960s. She wrote this book late in her career, and published it in 1997.

The setting of Rose Cottage is England in 1947, in the post- war period. Kathy Herrick, a young woman who has lost her husband to the war, returns to her childhood home, a tiny thatched cottage in the English countryside. As a child, Kathy had been abandoned there by her mother, who purportedly had departed with a “gipsy” and moved to Ireland, only to die two years later in an auto accident. Now Kathy has been sent back to Rose Cottage by her grandmother to retrieve some family papers held in a secret, locked cabinet. Kathy finds that the cottage has been broken into and the papers are missing. Neighbors report strange nighttime visitors to the cottage, and meanwhile, flowers had begun to appear on her older relatives’ graves. Kathy’s search for the answer to the growing mysteries leads her into a family history of abandonment, bitterness, and revenge. It turns out that Kathy's mother is still alive, and they are reunited joyfully – as her grandmother had planned. The history is revealed: her mother had become pregnant at 16 and eloped to avoid a scandal; she is now remarried to a wealthy American man who knows little of her past history. Meanwhile, Kathy decides to marry a young man named David, whom she’d known as a child, and who helped her solve the mystery. The romantic element is nearly non-existent, as is typical in Mary Stewart novels. One of the closing paragraphs gives a sense of the book’s tone: ”The quest, in the end, had been for myself, and I had been answered. It isn’t the roots that matter to life, it’s the flower. No more questions, no more looking back. I had found myself, and I knew where I belonged. I was part of this place, and it was part of me. I was home.”

Rose Cottage is no more than a pleasant little, old- fashioned story about a historically distant time and culture. It is heavy on description, very light on mystery, and dwells on family history – as one might expect of a book written by a woman in her 80s. It mainly will be of interest to “completists” who (like myself) seek to read everything by Mary Stewart. Newcomers to her works are better off sampling novels from early in her career, such as The Ivy Tree, Seven Coaches Waiting, and The Moon-Spinners. ( )
  danielx | Jun 3, 2018 |
Slightly mysterious. Lovely atmosphere. good characters. Very enjoyable. Nice cozy read for a rainy day. ( )
  njcur | Nov 12, 2014 |
Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart; (3 1/2*)

This is a rather typical Stewart cosy with a bit of the intrigue and a touch of romance. It was a smooth and comfy go until the very end when it got rather busy but all in all a nice little tale.
It takes place in the late 40s. Our protagonist is a young lady who has lost her husband in the war and she is called home from London by her Scottish gran. Her gran raised her when her mother, Lilias, ran off with a gypsy lad. Kathy/Kate's gran is ill though she is now out of hospital and recovering nicely. She wants Kathy to go to the cottage where the family lived for many years while working as domestics for the property and hall owners. Her gran cooks for them still when she is healthy. But at Rose Cottage years ago her gran and gramp made a hidden safe in the wall for little family treasures and important papers. Kathy's gran now wants them and she cannot go herself.
When Kathy gets to the cottage she finds that the safe has been broken into and is empty. A rose bush has been dug up. As she grew up here she knows all of the villagers quite well and visits several of them to see if they can give her any answers as to whether anyone has been seen at the cottage. She finds out that someone has been to the cemetery and visited the graves of her gramp and her bitter old auntie, leaving flowers still fresh on their graves.
Davey, a childhood friend, helps Kathy to uncover all she can about the goings on at Rose Cottage. All comes together happily at the end. (I did say it was a typical Stewart, did I not?)
This was an enjoyable little read as are all of Mary Stewart's books. So nice to read when one just wishes to relax with a novel. ( )
3 vote rainpebble | Sep 16, 2014 |
Kathy Herrick returns to the village where she grew up six years after leaving it. As a small child her mother left her with her grandparents and she grew up in Rose Cottage, the small house they lived in on the estate where they worked.. Strange things have been taking place near and in Rose Cottage and Kathy gets caught up in the intrigue. A cozy with a feel good ending this is a good read for a light day of reading. ( )
1 vote clue | Jul 16, 2013 |
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To the gentle shades of Henry, George, Patsy, Nip,
Rosy, Maudie and Muffin, and all the other friends
whom I met again in my stroll down Memory Lane.
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It is 1947, a calm, still day of June.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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ISBN 0380781433 is for Somewhere I'll Find You by Lisa Kleypas
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0449000613, Mass Market Paperback)

Mary Stewart launched a world full of romance readers, and she invented romantic suspense. In this beautifully written gothic, Kate Herrick, a young widow in war-torn London, returns to her family home of Rose Cottage to retrieve family mementos for her Gran. When Kate arrives, she finds that the mementos have mysteriously disappeared. While looking for answers to age-old family mysteries (her single mother supposedly ran off with gypsies) Kate rekindles friendships with neighbors, kinsman, and old childhood companions. The bittersweet memories that Kate examines help her to redefine herself as a widow and as a young woman with a great need for family ties.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:46 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

In 1940s England, a young woman searches for information on her mother. Kate Herrick was born out of wedlock and abandoned at the age of six. Now a widow, she returns to the shuttered cottage of her childhood and finds someone was there before her. By the author of the Stormy Petrel.… (more)

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