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The Ivy Tree by Mary Stewart

The Ivy Tree (original 1961; edition 2007)

by Mary Stewart

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938229,281 (3.86)96
Title:The Ivy Tree
Authors:Mary Stewart
Info:Chicago Review Press (2007), Edition: 1, Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Tags:mystery, mistaken identity, romance

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The Ivy Tree by Mary Stewart (1961)


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English (20)  French (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (22)
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
Mary agrees to impersonate someone who looks very like her, to help someone else. Rather complicated, and very exciting. Very well written with believable characters. ( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
The Ivy Tree is another of Mary Stewart's first-person thrillers. Canadian Mary Grey is visiting the North of England when she is accosted and almost tossed off a cliff by a man who thinks she is Annabel Winslow, who left the area 8 years before and hasn't been heard from since. Con, as he introduces himself, is eventually convinced of his mistake, but soon he and his half-sister Lisa, decided that staging Annabell's return would be extremely "convenient", as she and her cousin stand between him and his desired inheritance of the Whitescar farm. The cousin is coming up from London with her boyfriend for her grandfather's birthday, so it's the perfect time for a family reunion. Mary is convinced to play Annabel in return for a payment from the money Con will inherit if he can pull off his plan. But he's not the only one with secrets, and life at Whitescar soon becomes perilous for everyone.

If you like first-person thrillers, or good suspense writing, you'll love The Ivy Tree. It has just the right amount of Gothic tension to keep the story rolling. ( )
2 vote inge87 | Oct 14, 2013 |
Oh, Mary Stewart, no, I KNOW you can do better than this. I KNOW you are a better writer than this. This is way too boring for the woman who writes the Crystal Cave! And too many people here are just...petty. Urgh. ( )
  cricketbats | Apr 18, 2013 |
This is the third novel by Mary Stewart I’ve read in the past few months and my least favourite so far. It lacks in a number of departments. Firstly, although the novel is nominally set around Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland, the setting could just as easily have been any rural England location with horses. Some early references to the Wall and a theme involving a search for Roman ruins provide the totality of the Northumberland scene setting. While the descriptive writing is excellent, it doesn’t evoke a sense of place in the same way as the south of France is evoked in “Madam, Will You Talk” or Corfu is evoked in “This Rough Magic”. Thirdly, while the action appears to take place around the time the novel was published (that is, in 1961), there is little in the text to place it within that time period, with the notable exception of a heroine who smokes like a chimney and some very dubious gender politics. Thirdly, the characters are two-dimensional and I found it difficult to care about any of them, other than a secondary character, Donald, of whom I wish I had seen more. Fourthly, the twist in the tale was, I thought, patently obvious from early on. I kept hoping that I was wrong about this and I expected some other twist, but it never came. For me, the twist was that there wasn’t actually a twist. In a way, Stewart hid everything in plain sight, which is clever writing, but not clever enough to overcome my disappointment with the predictability of the plot.

Although I’ve focused on the negatives, I don’t wish to imply that I disliked reading the novel. It’s an easy and entertaining read and deserves its 3 stars. However, I prefer Josephine Tey’s “Brat Farrar”, which is referred to in the narrative and which clearly gave Stewart plenty of inspiration. The plot in that novel is also predictable, but the psychological portrait of the central character makes the novel considerably more interesting. ( )
1 vote KimMR | Apr 12, 2013 |
Possibly my favourite Mary Stewart so far -- and the last of her mystery/romances, which is possibly why. Gah, I can't believe I have no more to look forward to. I accidentally spoilered myself as to the end of this one, but that was okay because the narration is clever enough that I just spent the time trying to catch Mary/Annabel out.

I wish I knew what it was that makes Mary Stewart's mystery/romances work for me, but I can't really put my finger on it. Something about the atmosphere, the characters, the simple inevitability of it all, the way she can make me believe the most terribly far-fetched things. The way I end up falling in love with most of her pairings. She didn't make me fall in love with Con -- I saw him coming far too easily, the way he was -- or understand Mary/Annabel's willingness to work for his interests, but still. Somehow I accepted the plot anyway.

I'll miss Mary Stewart's romances. They're immensely easy to read, addictive, and usually well-balanced as regards the amount of suspension of disbelief necessary, description vs. action, characters, romance vs. mystery... I'd have to be very sure of someone's taste before recommending these, I think, but I was utterly and unexpectedly charmed. ( )
1 vote shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mary Stewartprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Schäring, MarjattaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A north country maid up to London had stray'd,

Although with her nature it did not agree;

She wept, and she sighed, and she bitterly cried:

"I wish once again in the North I could be!

Oh! the oak and the ash, and bonny ivy tree,

They flourish at home in the North Country.

"No doubt, did I please, i could marry with ease;

Where maidens are fair many lovers will come:

But he whom I wed must be North country bred,

And carry me back to my North Country home.

Oh! the oak and the ash, and the bonny ivy tree,

They flourished at home in my own country."
For Fredith and Thomas Kemp
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I might have been alone in a painted landscape.
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Book description

An English June in the Roman Wall countryside; the ruin of a beautiful old house standing cheek-by-jowl with the solid, sunlit prosperity of the manor farm - a lovely place, and a rich inheritance for one of the two remaining Winslow heirs. There had been a third, but Annabel Winslow had died four years ago - so when a young woman calling herself Annabel Winslow comes 'home' to Whitescar, Con Winslow and his half-sister Lisa must find out whether she really is who she says she is.

Mary Grey has nothing to look forward to except a future as colorless as her name. So if she looks, walks, and smiles so much like the glamorous missing heiress Annabel Winslow, why not be her for a little while? To the lonely young woman--living in a dreary furnished room, faced with an uncertain future--the impersonation offered intriguing possibilities.

If Mary looked so much like the missing heiress, why should she not be an heiress? And so plain Mary became the glamorous Annabel. But she did not live happily ever after. In fact, she almost did not live at all. Because someone wanted Annabel Winslow missing ... permanently.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0340011157, Paperback)

An English June in the Roman Wall countryside; the ruin of a beautiful old house standing cheek-by-jowl with the solid, sunlit prosperity of the manor farm - a lovely place, and a rich inheritance for one of the two remaining Winslow heirs. There had been a third, but Annabel Winslow had died four years ago - so when a young woman calling herself Annabel Winslow comes 'home' to Whitescar, Con Winslow and his half-sister Lisa must find out whether she really is who she says she is.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:24 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Mary Grey had come from Canada to the land of her forebears: Northumberland. As she savored the ordered, spare beauty of England's northern fells, the silence was shattered by the shout of a single name: "Annabel!" And there stood one of the angriest, most threatening young men Mary had ever seen. His name was Connor Winslow, and Mary quickly discovered that he thought she was his cousin-a girl supposedly dead these past eight years. Alive, she would be heiress to an inheritance Connor was determined to have for himself. This remarkably atmospheric novel is one of bestselling-author Mary Stewart's richest, most tantalizing, and most surprising efforts, proving her a rare master of the genre.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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