The Ivy Tree by Mary Stewart

ivy tree msrw

Urged on by several people, including Lisa, I decided to read The Ivy Tree as my first Mary Stewart book of the week. And I’m so glad I did. It is a page-turning, twisty, corker of a novel that I binge read in just a couple of days. It would be a great place to start with Stewart if you’ve never read her before.

Set in Northumberland, the tale begins when Mary Grey is approached by a stranger who mistakes her for his long-lost cousin, Annabel. She bears a remarkable resemblance to this mysterious woman who disappeared eight years previous. Initially irritated by the attentions of the handsome Connor Winslow, Mary spontaneously agrees to pose as Annabel so that Con and his sister Lisa can inherit Annabel’s share of the inheritance from their wealthy grandfather (Mary will get a cut, of course). When Mary/Annabel arrives at the family farm she navigates dangerous territory trying to convince everyone that she is who she says she is. She also has to appease Con who makes her nervous with his quietly volatile and unstable personality – and his greed. A major twist comes about 3/4 of the way through the novel and changes everything. Stewart’s usual exciting and suspenseful ending had my heart racing right through the last page.

I think Stewart’s writing in this book is about the best in any of her novels. Her characters are vivid, she writes stunningly about the landscape and the mystery is subtle and surprising.  I think Nine Coaches Waiting is still my favorite of hers, but this is up there with the ones I enjoyed best.

MSRW Posts so far:

Four by Mary Stewart – The Emerald City Reader

This Rough Magic – I Prefer Reading

Thornyhold – Fleur in Her World

Thornyhold – Quixotic Magpie

Touch Not the Cat – TBR 313

Wildfire at Midnight – Tell Me a Story

Let me know if I’ve missed yours!

18 thoughts on “The Ivy Tree by Mary Stewart

  1. jessicabookworm

    Like the sound of this especially as you say it is one of the novels you’ve enjoyed the most. I am making good progress through The Gabriel Hounds my Stewart read for this week. I am loving the exotic setting.

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  2. Fleur in her World

    This was my favourite – until I read ‘Nine Coaches Waiting’ earlier this year. I probably won’t have time for another Mary Stewart this week – I have too much on at work – but after ‘Thornyhold’ I know won’t be able to resist picking up another for long.

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    1. Anbolyn Post author

      I think most people have Nine Coaches Waiting or The Ivy Tree as their favorites. They really are her best work. Thanks for reading and posting this week and sharing in the appreciation for Lady Stewart.

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  3. Lisa

    I am so happy that you read this one & enjoyed it so much! It really is a wonderful book. I can’t remember if you have already read Josephine Tey’s Brat Farrar. If not, I think you’d enjoy it as well.

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    1. Anbolyn Post author

      I read Brat Farrar ages and ages ago when I was a young teen so I remember next to nothing about it. I’m sure I would enjoy it as I really like Josephine Tey.

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  4. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review

    I enjoyed this one very much too, though I found the references to Brat Farrar (an excellent book by the way) rather awkward. I almost wished she would leave them out and let the novel stand on its own…but maybe she felt she had to acknowledge it was a similar idea so as to not be accused of copying.

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  5. vicki (skiourophile / bibliolathas)

    I *think* this is my favourite Mary Stewart, but now as I read other reviews of other books, I keep remember why I really liked that one too, and that one, and *that* one!
    I have started Rose Cottage now (very late in the week) – I’m hoping it will capture me as much as the others.

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