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The Rose and the Yew Tree by Mary Westmacott

The Rose and the Yew Tree

by Mary Westmacott

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Nothing too big and heavy for listening in the car, trying to get back into that after a period off. Radio 4 on the way to work, book in the evening seems to be working at the moment. A road trip finished the last hour or so of this off.
This is a tale of the past. A man is summoned to a death bed in Paris by someone he would not call a friend. This person wants to tell him the woman they were both linked to died. You don't get to hear this until the end, as after that introduction, you get to hear the back story. The story teller is Hugh Norries, a captain who was injured in a car crash in the war, on the harrow road. He is still trying to find his reason to live when he is transported to Cornwall by his brother and sister in law, Teresa. Teresa is one of life's organisers, and she set about being involved. in this case in politics - despite not really having an interest in politics. So Hugh ends up being used as a sounding board by people involved in the local election (the labour landslide on 45) on the side of the conservative candidate. He's a war hero, but no gentleman, who is attractive to women and attracted to danger and publicity - probably in equal amounts. Here they both meet Isabella, the young girl who live in the castle. She's aloof, self contained and opens up to no-one, although both of the men fall under her spell. Only one understands her and the other doesn't. This is primarily the cause of the antipathy between them. It is a sad tale, with in one sense a sad ending. In one case, he does not know what he had until it was gone, in the other, a least, he can remember the prime, not the ending.
the title comes from Teresa, who says that a rose and a yew tree do not live for the same length of time, but each lives for the same purpose and dies when that purpose is fulfilled. In that sense a short life lived to the full is not the same as a life cut short. ( )
  Helenliz | Feb 24, 2017 |
Agatha Christie writing as 'Mary Westmacott' in 1947. 'The moment of the rose, and the moment of the yew tree, are of equal duration' T S Eliot.

Set against a background of the small Cornish town of St. Loo and post-war politics the book is narrated by Hugh Norreys, a bedridden invalid who has lost the use of his legs as a result of a car accident and as such becomes a 'listening post' for the characters central to the plot. Isabella Charteris is the 'princess' living in the castle. She lives serenely in the present and is set on marrying her cousin Rupert after the War so they can live together in the castle she loves. John Gabriel, an ambitious and ruthless war hero who is crippled by an inferiority complex, appears as the local electoral candidate and only Hugh is privy to his inner workings - put powerless to do anything about them. When Gabriel wins the election, he runs off with Isabella.

My favourite character would have to be Teresa, the no-nonsense and wise sister-in-law. Interesting read. ( )
  DebbieMcCauley | Apr 7, 2014 |
Everyone expected that Isabella Charteris - beautiful, aristocratic, and privileged - would marry her cousin Rupert when he returned from the War. After all, theirs would have been a most suitable marriage between the serene heiress of Castle St. Loo and her gallant knight.

That was until the enigmatic John Gabriel entered Isabella's life. He was a decorated war hero and a vulgar opportunist. That he should appear in her life at all told Isabella everything she needed to know about the final chaos of war.

For Isabella, the price of love meant abandoning a dream forever. For Gabriel, it would destroy the only chance ambition would ever offer. What drew them together was something deeper than love.

I must say - while I enjoyed reading this book for the most part - there was a certain implausibility to the plot that I couldn't quite understand. Even now, I can't put my finger on exactly what bothers me about the book. Perhaps the mystery was slightly more intricate than I was expecting for such a short book. Anyway, I give The Rose and the Yew Tree by Mary Westmacott a definite A! ( )
  moonshineandrosefire | Mar 14, 2014 |
First of all, I was able to take the tag "romance" off of this book. I was afraid it was one by the description on the back, but I don't think it is quite. Not exactly sure the tag "suspense" works, either. It is the story of a man who has been badly injured in a car accident, and his observations of the people and events around him during the aftermath when he wasn't sure he wanted to live. It attempts to convey that the choices we make will lead us down unforeseen paths, but is a bit clunky.
The observations of county politics of post WWII England were interesting up to a point, but tended to go on. Some of the characters were well drawn, others just flat. There was much speculation on people's motivations and emotions. Too much in my opinion. A lot of the time it seemed like an author practicing to see what felt right for them to say or do. Still, the story itself wasn't terrible and I don't regret reading it, if only for some of the insights into post war England. ( )
1 vote MrsLee | Oct 25, 2010 |
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I was in Paris when Parfitt, my man, came to me and said that a lady had called to see me.
Yes, isn't that what politics really boil down to in the end? What people will believe, what they will stand, what they can be induced to think?  Never plain fact.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Agatha Christie also used the pseudonym Mary Westmacott for her non-crime romance novels.
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A crippled but clear-sighted observer narrates the strange relationship that develops between the beautiful aristocratic Isabella and one of the candidates in a post-war election in Cornwall, a man who both desires and despises her.

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