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Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart
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Nine Coaches Waiting (original 1958; edition 2006)

by Mary Stewart, Sandra Brown (Foreword)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
961299,010 (4.1)1 / 112
Member:aktakukac
Title:Nine Coaches Waiting
Authors:Mary Stewart
Other authors:Sandra Brown (Foreword)
Info:Chicago Review Press (2006), Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:1950s, Alps, British, France, gothic, governess, mystery, read, read in 2013, romantic suspense, suspense

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Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart (1958)

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Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
I have a good friend from Mexico City who sounds exactly like Wilmer Valderrama's character, Fez, from That 70's Show. I just love his movie recommendations...and his accent! I laugh to myself when I remember his sparkling recommendation of Terminator 3 back in its heyday. "Eve, it's a classic film! It's got comedy, romance, and action!"

Though we definitely don't agree on what a certified "classic" is, his equation for good entertainment is right on par. Nine Coaches Waiting was a thrill to read, namely because it was a cocktail of comedy, romance, and action. Written by Mary Stewart in 1958, it had elements from many different works of fiction including Jane Eyre, Cinderella, and even Rebecca, yet it maintained it's own style and originality.

Linda Martin, a twenty-something teacher and orphan from England, accepts an exciting job as a governess at a chateau in the French Alps. Her ward, 9-year-old Philippe, has just lost his parents to a terrible accident, and is sullen and detached. His guardians, although genteel and generous, lead Linda to think that there is something more to the situation than meets the eye.

This isn't the most brilliantly written book out there, but I appreciated it for the same reasons I loved Rebecca. Stewart takes her time relaying events to you as a reader. Before you realize what's going on, you're completely involved with her characters. I haven't been to Thonon-les-Bains, but I feel like I've traveled there! I know every square inch of Chateau Valmy and it's grounds. It's...real! That's when you know that the author writes out of a need and love for her characters and the craft.

I have a 1966 ex-library book edition that I picked up at a library sale. Embossed on the inner cover page are the words: PROPERTY OF NORTH OLMSTED JR. HIGH LIBRARY. It's definitely been read and loved by many students, that's for sure. It smells old, and the mylar cover makes it crinkle when it's handled. Those are the best sounds and smells in the world! At any rate, get your hands on this book! I'm sure you'll enjoy it! ( )
1 vote dreamydress48 | Jul 23, 2014 |
It started a bit slowly and I didn't believe any of the Linda/Raoul romance but it did wind up to a deeply suspenseful mystery and overland chase but then took an age to wrap up. Mostly very successful but 30 odd pages of what was already patently obvious didn't help much. I also was thrown by having it take place in the 50s. I was expecting earlier and it took a while to readjust.
  amyem58 | Jul 15, 2014 |
My surprise read of the fall! Nine Coaches Waiting made its way to my reading list because it was picked by my sister in our book club. I have to say, I wasn't expecting much. (But, boy, was I wrong!)

Linda Martin returns to her native France in this mystery/suspense novel that was originally published as a serial in a magazine. Linda, who has spent the past several years in an orphanage in England after the death of her parents, has been secured to perform the role of governess to a young heir - Phillipe de Valmy. I was thrown a little, right off the bat, when Mary Stewart began peppering bits of conversation in French without benefit of translation. But I soon learned that nothing of consequence was ever disclosed in the foreign snippets of dialogue and could easily bypass those bits of text as the book continued.

The history of the Valmy family is rather sordid and tragic. Three brothers, Etienne, Leon, and Hippolyte, were the heirs to the Valmy estate. Etienne married and produced a son, Phillipe. However, Etienne and his wife were killed in an accident, leaving the young boy an orphan. Hippolyte was appointed caretaker of the child, but his work often took him away from France for months at a time. On one such occasion, Phillipe is left in the care of his uncle Leon and aunt Heloise. It is Leon and Heloise who hire Linda to care for the boy. Leon is bound to a wheelchair as the result of an automobile accident several years earlier. His first wife has died and he has a son, Raoul, from that marriage, but none from his union with Heloise. Shortly after arriving at the Valmy estate, accidents begin to happen. A shooting. A collapsing balcony. Linda is suspicious and cautious, guarding her charge fiercely. Even if it means coming to doubt the man who she has fallen in love with - Raoul de Valmy.

The story is well-paced and full of action and suspense, as well as romance. (Though I will say that the descriptions of field, forest, and mountain paths get somewhat wearing and led me to skim-read the pages from time to time.) This was my first exposure to Mary Stewart and it was a good one. A "cozy mystery" out of its time!
( )
  Jenna.Czaplewski | Jul 3, 2014 |
British author Mary Florence Elinor Stewart was a multi-bestselling author was at the peak of her popularity from the late 1960s through the 1980s. However, her career started back in 1954 with the release of Madam, Will You Talk?, her first foray into romantic suspense. Although best known for her Merlin series, Stewart has legions of fans who appreciate her romantic suspense novels, including This Rough Magic, which I blogged about a few years ago.

"Nine Coaches Waiting" is a Stewart suspense novel originally published in 1958. It centers on Linda Martin, a young orphaned French expatriate who's been living in England. After ten years in the UK, she returns to Paris to take on the post of governess to the nine-year-old Count Philippe de Valmy. Linda soon forms a fond with Philippe, who is also an orphan living with his Uncle Léon and Aunt Héloïse in the huge Château Valmy situated (of course) far from civilization. From the get-go, an air of foreboding about the place makes Linda decide not to admit that she speaks fluent French. (The de Valmys had insisted that their nephew’s new governess should be an English girl, after all.)

Linda falls in love with the beauty and history of the estate and surrounding countryside and even finds herself falling for the reckless and rakishly handsome Raoul, son of Léon and Héloïse. But then mysterious accidents start to happen, and Linda feels an increasing sense of danger and dread. Little by little she wonders if the accidents are related to the fact that her young charge will inherit the estate when he comes of age. Can she trust the charming but imposing Léon or the cold and aloof Héloïse? Or is the real threat the attractive Raoul? The young governess has to struggle against her fears and suspicions to keep herself and Philippe safe.

As with "This Rough Magic," the setting of the story serves as one of the the most impressive characters, as in this passage:

"I craned forward to look. The village of Soubirous was set in a wide, green saucer of meadow and orchard serene among the cradling hills. I could see the needle-thin gleam of water, and the lines of willows where two streams threaded the grassland. Where they met stood the village, bright as a toy and sharply-focused in the clear air, with its three bridges and its little watch-making factory and its church of Sainte-Marie-des-Ponts with the sunlight glinting on the weathercock that tips the famous spire."

And as with most of Stewart's protagonists, Linda has to use her wits and deductive reasoning to save the day, rather than any modern kick-ass theatrics. As the author herself once said, "I take conventionally bizarre situations (the car chase, the closed-room murder, the wicked uncle tale) and send real people into them, normal everyday people with normal everyday reactions to violence and fear; people not 'heroic' in the conventional sense, but averagely intelligent men and women who could be shocked or outraged into defending, if necessary with great physical bravery, what they held to be right." ( )
  BVLawson | Jun 12, 2014 |
Hearing of the recent death of Mary Stewart at the age of 97 sent me back to her books, which I have loved for many years She is a “favourite”author on my profile page.

She wrote some acclaimed books on the Arthurian Legends, but I prefer her Romantic mystery/thrillers , set in foreign locations. She began writing before the age of package tours and the glamour of her locales at a time when few travelled much is a part of the charm.

I chose “Nine Coaches Waiting” as a tribute read. Linda Martin is a lonely, orphaned heroine, engaged as governess to a little boy in a chateau in the French Alps. There is something of “Jane Eyre” about her as she ruefully acknowledges, but a certain mental toughness and a sense of humour prevent self- pity.

Her new employers are a strange couple. Madame de Valmy is remote and brittle, barely concealing underlying anxiety. Her husband, Leon de Valmy runs the Valmy estate, a property that will eventually pass to his young nephew Phillipe. Leon is wheelchair- bound, but formidable, and Linda feels manipulated by him from the time of their first meeting.

She is attracted to Raoul de Valmy .Leon’s son, but her lack of self- confidence and his playboy reputation affect their developing relationship. She settles into a routine with Phillipe, but alarming incidents occur which put the boy in danger and she becomes increasingly uneasy.
When Linda feels compelled to leave the chateau with Phillipe the suspense builds in a sequence of events in which they must hide from danger.

Mary Stewart excels at describing place and the book is full of marvellous descriptions of the Savoyard area of France where the story is located. There are some terrific setpieces, particularly in the woods near the estate, and a great sense of movement as the narrative builds to it’s climax.
This story has not dated in the slightest, and in fact she was ahead of her time in creating a dauntless, albeit vulnerable heroine, who will not be beaten no matter what the emotional cost. ( )
  Maura49 | May 27, 2014 |
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Book description
Linda Martin, an English woman is hired to be a governess for a young French boy. But a strange terror coiled in the shadows behind the brooding elegance of the huge Château Valmy. It lay there like some dark and twisted thing -- waiting, watching, ready to strike.

Was it only chance encounter than had brought the lovely governess to the château? Or was it something planned? She only knew something was wrong and that she was afraid. She is unaware of the danger she faces or who to trust in order to protect the young heir. Now she could not even trust the man she loved. For Raoul Valmy was one of them -- linked by blood and name to the dark secrets of the Valmy past.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0449215725, Mass Market Paperback)

A strange terror coiled in the shadows behind the brooding elegance of the huge chateau. It lay there like some dark and twisted thing -- waiting, watching, ready to strike. Was it only chance encounter than had brought Linda Martin to Chateau Valmy? Or was it something planned? The lovely young English governess did not know. She only knew something was wrong and that she was afraid. Now she could not even trust the man she loved. For Raoul Valmy was one of them -- linked by blood and name to the dark secrets of the Valmy past.
"A wonderful hue and cry story . . . a Mona Lisa tale that beckons you on while suspense builds up." --Boston Herald

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:05:38 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A governess in a French ch?ateau 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 Ch?ateau 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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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