Friday, 17 November 2017

Review: Madam, Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart

My grandmother was a huge fan of romantic suspense and I had a lovely time working my way through her bookshelves when I was about 12 or 13. I remember that Mary Stewart was one of my favourites but I couldn't remember anything much about the plots, so I was thrilled to see a selection on Kindle for just 99p. Would they be as good as I remembered? Yes, and no.

Mary Stewart probably invented the romantic suspense genre - more recently reinvented as domestic suspense: independent heroine falls in love with a man who might be a killer. In this particular story, Charity and her friend Louise(!) are on holiday in France. Charity is determined to visit all the historical sites. Louise would rather sit in the shade and drink grape juice. So Charity takes a young boy called David on her sight-seeing trips. David and his stunningly beautiful step-mother are in France hiding from his father - recently on trial for murder. When Charity realises David's father has finally tracked his family down, she tries to lead him away on a false trail. Will she succeed?

Madam, Will You Talk? was written in 1955 and unfortunately it shows, particularly in the way anyone who is not white, British, and middle-class is described. And I really wish someone had thought to edit out the (one occurrence) of the g-word. Having said that, Madam, Will You Talk? is an enjoyable, escapist  'romp' and I did enjoy it. There are lots of lush descriptions of France and thrilling car chases. The romance is glossed over - the hero meets the heroine all of twice before he falls madly in love with her. There are no sex scenes and only very mild violence.

Would suit fans of old-school romantic suspense and authors such as Anne Stuart. Fans of vintage cosy crime, such as Agatha Christie, will probably find there is not enough of a mystery to get their teeth into. 

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