by Mary Stewart

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'A comfortable chair and a Mary Stewart: total heaven. I'd rather read her than most other authors.' Harriet Evans

The rambling house called Thornyhold is like something out of a fairy tale. Left to Gilly Ramsey by the cousin whose occasional visits brightened her childhood, the cottage, set deep in a wild wood, has come just in time to save her from a bleak future. With its reputation for magic and its resident black cat, Thornyhold offers Gilly more than just a new home. It offers her a chance to start over.

The old house, with it tufts of rosy houseleek and the spreading gilt of the lichens, was beautiful. Even the prisoning hedges were beautiful, protective with their rusty thorns, their bastions of holly and juniper, and at the corners, like towers, their thick columns of yews.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781444715064
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton, Ltd.
Publication date: 05/26/2011
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 28,492
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Mary Stewart was one of the 20th century's bestselling and best-loved novelists. She was born in Sunderland, County Durham in 1916, but lived for most of her life in Scotland, a source of much inspiration for her writing. Her first novel, Madam, Will You Talk? was published in 1955 and marked the beginning of a long and acclaimed writing career. In 1971 she was awarded the International PEN Association's Frederick Niven Prize for The Crystal Cave, and in 1974 the Scottish Arts Council Award for one of her children's books, Ludo and the Star Horse. She was married to the Scottish geologist Frederick Stewart, and died in 2014.

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Thornyhold 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Tacitus Lector 10 months ago
Firstly, let me be blunt by saying I'm disappointed and regret the waste of time I spent reading this book. It is filled with false foreshadowing, chapters and scenes that end with unrealized suspense, and a final turn in the story that makes the first 80% of it meaningless. SPOILERS You get a hard smack in the face on just how misleading this story has been in Chapter 22, which opens with the line "Since this not a tale of midnight witchcraft, but a simple--relatively simple--love story, it is fitting the final chapters should open on a glorious day." Um...what? The 21 chapters I've read, beginning in Gilly's childhood, and swirling almost entirely around an atmosphere of magic and a young girl's desire for independence and self actualization is, in fact...a love story? And this so-called love story revolves around Christopher, a man who comes into the story more than halfway through and is given virtually no characterization at all beyond being male and relatively good looking. Point in fact, the first information we're given about Christopher is that he's a self-absorbed writer who routinely drives his young son out of the house with his foul temper while writing. Sounds quite appealing already, huh? In fact, Gilly herself mentally describes him as a "homme fatale", while seeming to completely miss the fact that this is not a good thing. She falls in love with him quickly and--going by anything the reader can see--for no apparent reason other than that's he is there! To match Gilly's unreasonable and unexplained attraction to this suddenly introduced character, Christopher is also conveniently and confusingly in love with Gilly. Again, virtually nothing given to the reader to make this sensible or understandable. If this was indeed a love story, as Gilly tells us out of the friggin' blue in Chapter 22, it's a pretty bad one. So, a story that tricks the reader into believing the main character is a repressed woman about to open her wings and realize a magical destiny--for well over 100 pages--turns out to be a tale about a woman who does have magical abilities but chooses to completely ignore them while getting married to a man she just met and promptly settling down to have kids. The same character who mourned her loss of freedom and life when she had to return home to play housekeeper for her aging father. Quite the character turnaround there. In fact, not so much a turn as a drop off a cliff! Now, let's address the villain who, in the same disappointing and boring fashion as the rest of the story, ends up accidentally dosing herself and the wrong man (she had been after Christopher) with a love potion that results in her and the poor drugged man getting married and doing the domestic thing off into the sunset. Agnes was a psychopath, and yet the story treats her like some silly woman who...meh...made some mistakes (Like trying to starve a dog, and turning her own mother into an imbecile by dosing her.) And if I needed any reason to finally dislike this neurotic, weak-willed, heroine, it's her reaction to learning that the wrong man took Agnes' love potion. She thinks it's funny. "So the witch-story turned into comedy, and the midnight enchantments faded...into the common light of day." That's it: Magic and mystery and potential thrown away by a character that, for no given reason, suddenly found a desperate desire to be humdrum normal. This is a story about a magical young woman's disappointing decline into COMMON.
cinnamonowl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this during a terrible heat wave- I find I migrate to Gothic romance/mystery during the summer for some unknown reason. Maybe it reminds me of The Secret Garden in some way. Or reading that book at my Aunt's house in the summer when I was little. Anyway, I love to read books like this, while I am sitting in my air conditioned house and it is 95 degrees outside and climbing. Stewart reminds me of Barbara Michaels; she has a similar feel, in her story lines and actual writing. Thornyhold was a perfect read the week I read it. I had been knee deep in Gillian Flynn's books, which are good but very murky and intense. It was a nice break, with its gentle story line and easy magic. The mystery and suspense were minimal. I had a hard time personally with a few of the things that happened, regarding animals, yet none of the parts were so bad that I had to totally skip them. (as I had to recently in another book) The end was predictable, but it was just the right time for this book for me. I needed something simple and enjoyable, and this fit the bill exactly.
Renz0808 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I usually love books like these, I especially love reading them between larger more invloved books or in between books in a long series. Gothic Romance is one of my favorite generas and this book fits the description. This was also my first book by Mary Stewart. I had read other reviews about her books before and I have always wanted to read her. She sort of reminds me of Barbara Michaels. I started out really enjoying this book. Our heroine is Gilly and she has had a rough childhood filled for the most part without love. Her only good childhood memories involve her spinster cousin who is also her godmother, and most likely a witch. So when she inherits her godmother's home, Thornyhold she also inherits all the creepy problems that come with it and it might be more than she baragined for. The only reason why I didn't like this book more was because I found the romance to be a bit cheesy but I know what can you expect from a gothic romance novel. For the most part the novel flowed really well and I enjoyed all of the descriptions of English countrysides and the way this author walked along the thin line of reality.
neverlistless on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a fun, quick read! If I read anymore about cottages in the woods then I'm going to become a hermit much faster than originally planned. But if you're interested in a little bit of romance, a little bit of mystery, herb gardens, cottages in the woods, and "witches," then check out this book!
Kasthu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Thornyhold is the third novel of Mary Stewart¿s that I¿ve read; although I generally enjoy Stewart¿s novels, I¿d definitely say this wasn¿t as good as Nine Coaches Waiting or The Ivy Tree.Geillis has just inherited Thornyhold, an 18th century house that had once apparently belonged to a Victorian-era witch, from her cousin, also named Geillis. Upon moving to the house, Geillis becomes caught up in its atmosphere, even taking on her cousin¿s reputation as a witch.Stewart definitely has a flair for the dramatic, and for infusing her stories and settings with magic. There¿s a sort of dreamlike quality about Thornyhold. But here, I felt that something was missing¿the novel (really a novella) was too short for character development, too short for the development of the romance. Stewart¿s other novels had villains that were creepy; the ¿villain¿ in this novel is sort of caricaturish. In addition, the novel is quite sad in some places as Geillis describes to the reader what her childhood was like. I¿m still a fan of Mary Stewart¿s, though. She really knows how to craft a novel that¿s got atmosphere.
ellengryphon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A light, lovely read from the talented, possibly under-appreciated Mary Stewart. Here is the short, pleasant tale of a talented, independent young woman who inherits her cousin's small estate, dabbles in herbology (witchcraft? not so much), endures annoying neighbors and a mildly disturbing nightmare before solving some small mysteries, meeting and falling for talented, mysterious, independent author dude. Chock full of fun words like 'belvedere,' 'brambles' and 'wicket.' What's not to love? A guilty pleasure and a great escape.
baggette on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nice story, good ending. Didn't feel rushed.Same quality of writing as the Merlin series.Gilley Ramsey inherits her relative's cottage in Wiltshire. Locals call it "witch House"
sussabmax on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I came across this book a long time ago, I don¿t even remember when. It wasn¿t great literature, and I would have to make a pretty long list of my favorites before this would occur to me, but it was a really nice book. I¿d call it a comfortable read. It didn¿t change my life, but I remembered it, and I read enough books that remembering large parts of the book 15 or 20 years later is actually quite a testament to the book.I came across a copy of this at one of the periodic used book fairs different groups at work hold to support some charity. It seems like a great deal for the charities and the groups supporting them¿they solicit donations through emails and bulletin board postings, then organize all the books and sell them in a conference room for a day or two. I am sure it is time-consuming, but all of the money goes to the charity, so it¿s a nice deal. I love browsing through these fairs, seeing what people have donated, and finding books to try. Books are generally $1 or less, so it isn¿t that risky to try something new. But occasionally, I come across an old friend, like this book.I snapped the book right up, thrilled to have come across it by chance. I haven¿t been looking for it, I just recognized it. I didn¿t read it right away, though. As usual, I had several books that I was excited about in my TBR stack (mountain¿), so I put it aside. It made me happy to have it, though. Last week, I was looking for something light and quick to read while the kids were at their dad¿s for the evening, so I picked up Thornyhold.It was just as good as I remembered it. Geillis is an amazingly strong character, glossing over her very difficult childhood with a no-use-crying-over-what-can¿t-be-changed attitude. Even when describing highly emotional events, her common sense shines through. When she falls in love with her handsome neighbor, and he smiles at her, she makes a comment about the sun coming out and all the birds bursting into song in a way that pokes gentle fun at her own out of control emotions.The witchcraft plot was a little silly, but nothing too outrageous. As a whole, the book was so charming, I am willing to overlook a few minor faults. And, I am inspired by Gilly¿s can-do attitude to make her home her own¿my own home is in better shape because of it! I hung a picture and some curtains (see post below) and cleared out some clutter this weekend. So, that¿s a definite good effect of the book.Highly recommended, but remember, don¿t have high expectations of great literature. That¿s not what this book is meant to be.
chikkagrl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was the first book I've read by Mary Stewart. I now want to read her others. I love her writing style and how she weaves the story through the area bringing in each wonderfully described character at a time. Very romantic.
jjmcgaffey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A pretty romance, in very Mary Stewart style - somewhat less of intrigue, though there's at least two mysteries involved. The descriptions are gorgeous, as usual. I like Gilly, and Geillis from what we see of her; William and Christopher John are both great. But it's a good thing Gilly was conditioned to go along with what others have planned for her - I can think of plenty of heroines who would have refused just because her path was all laid out for her. And the idea of his putting in a comment of his own, so Geillis didn't make all the running for him... The comment about the taxi, near the end, always takes me a minute to translate. But it's a point. And it's an interesting frame, specifically written as a memoir. She has much too good a memory, for the details of her first days at Thornyhold, to be believable, though. Nice. Not a favorite, but always enjoyable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An unusual angle, but a lovely tale. Well worth reading and re-reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought I had read every book Mary Stewart had ever written. Then I found her on ebook and bought them all and discovered this little gem. I don't know how I missed it back then but I surely did enjoy Ms.Stewarts dip into the slightly paranormal.
LAPG More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend immersing yourself in THORNYHOLD’s gentle magic. There is truly a meandering magic at work in this book that never fails to draw me in every time I pick it up. That's right, it's one of those books I re-read from time to time. Why? Simply because I want to 'go there' again. Mary Stewart wrote romances that managed to be full of action, adventure and danger, while never sacrificing the heart of the story, which was all about love. When I read her romantic suspense novels, I find myself truly liking her heroines without reservation. Her characters are real to me, which shows her incredible skill as a writer. This is especially true of THORNYHOLD. In THORNYHOLD we initially find ourselves involved in the inner life of a girl who is experiencing a difficult childhood. She is lonely, and sent to boarding school at an early age, which doesn’t work out well. I have the feeling that the boarding school scenes are autobiographical in nature, as Stewart herself has admitted to being unhappy in boarding school. Perhaps her affinity for what her character goes through is what makes these scenes so affecting. Fortunately, our heroine has a godmother who brings a little magic into her life at just those times when she needs it most. These early scenes set up the real story of THORNYHOLD, which is, of course, all about love. After her godmother’s death, our heroine, now an adult, moves into her house in a remote part of the English countryside where magic abounds. There is a local coven, a nosy neighbor, a motherless boy, a handsome neighbor, messages seemingly from ‘the beyond’, and other mysterious goings-on she must deal with. That’s where the true magic in this novel is to be found-- in accompanying our heroine as she navigates her way through this maze until she reaches the center, where true love is to be found.
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Love2Read-N-Texas More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this novel as much as Nine Coaches Waiting. Suspenseful and engrossing read. I recommend this to any mystery/goth readers.
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