18. Thornyhold by Mary Stewart
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.