January 31, 2012

Book Review: Madam, Will You Talk?

Last week I stumbled across this review of Nine Coaches Waiting, which reminded me of how much I like Mary Stewart. I wanted to read one immediately, but I've been trying to be stern with myself, because my procrastination habit has been bad lately. After I made myself finish 2 books for review, I sat down and read Madam, Will You Talk?

Set in post-WWII France, Madam, Will You Talk? opens as Charity Selborne arrives in Avignon for a few weeks of vacation. Widowed during the war, Charity is young, well-off, and a bit lonely. She soon makes the acquaintance of teenager David Shelley, staying at the hotel with his beautiful French step-mother. Then another hotel guest tells Charity that Shelley isn't David's real name -- it's Byron. They're traveling under an assumed name because the father, Richard Byron, is suspected of murdering his best friend, and leaving David himself for dead. The next day Charity and David set out for Nimes to see the bull-fighting arena, and (gasp!) run into Richard Byron himself. Charity manages to get David away, but then has to go on the run as Richard pursues her across southern France.

Madam, Will You Talk? is the sort of classic romantic suspense that I love -- as the cover of my beat-up vintage edition puts it, "Another Romantic Chiller In the Finest Tradition of Great Suspense Classics". It's a bit like Deanna Raybourn meets Agatha Christie, and it's lots of fun. There may be too many coincidences to be realistic, and the characters may fall in love astonishingly quickly; but the adventure will keep you turning the pages, the literary references are always spot-on, and Stewart's lovely prose brings Provence vividly to life.

Should I recommend this to my grandma? Absolutely!
Rating: 4 out of 5

Have you ever read Mary Stewart? Ever been to Avignon? 

The cover image at the top is an Amazon affiliate link. If you use the link to buy MWYT, I'll earn a few cents.

Reminder! The Georgette Heyer giveaway closes tonight. 
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