The Stormy Petrel Hardcover – Sep 1991
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From Publishers Weekly
Stewart's ability to evoke a setting is richly apparent in her latest tale (after Thornyhold ), which takes place on Moila, a remote Hebridean island. Cambridge professor and writer Rose Fenemore seeks quiet and inspiration in a rented cottage that she expects to share with her brother, a doctor and amateur bird photographer. An unforeseen delay in his arrival gives her a week of solitude, during which time she is profoundly affected by the starkly beautiful landscape and abundant, almost fearless wildlife. Her peace of mind is shattered one rain-swept evening, however, by two unexpected visitors. Ewen Mackay, charming and persuasive, says he had been the former tenant of her cottage, and was unaware the place had been let. When, later in the same night, another man arrives, drenched and agitated, he tells Rose and Ewen he is simply seeking shelter from the storm. The visitors are jumpy, evasive and mutually antagonistic, and Rose's suspicions are aroused. The mystery of their relationship and real purpose, never menacing, is quickly solved, and takes second place to Stewart's vivid rendering of Moila's lochs, glens and wild birds, especially the graceful stormy petrels who nest there. A subplot about an irresponsible land developer seems an excessive afterthought. While devoid of real suspense, the tale is nonetheless laced with charm and good humor.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
By the English author of Thornyhold (1988), etc., more atmospheric romance, but here in a slight, mere wisp of a novel set in Scotland's Western Islands. The scenery, however, is grand. Rose Fenemore is a tutor of English at one of the Cambridge colleges; she also writes poetry and now needs an ``ivory tower'' retreat. Brother Crispin promises to join her for a holiday on the Scottish island of Moila but is delayed. Alone in her cottage, Rose is at first terrified, then angry and puzzled, by the night arrivals--separately--of two men. Both are strangers to her. Ewen Mackay, who lets himself in with a key, claims that the cottage was his childhood home and hints that he was the love-child of the now- deceased Colonel Hamilton, owner of the nearby ``Big House.'' But the man who calls himself John Parsons turns out to be the Hamilton heir. There are curious break-ins at the Hamilton house, and odd movements of Ewen's boat, the Stormy Petrel. As Rose puzzles, and enjoys the scenic wonders of the island, others arrive--including two of her students; Crispin; a Mr. Bagshaw (ex-con and developer!); and, at the finale, two policemen. Before the crowd thins, the island is saved from development, and a romantic interest is hinted. But all this is a mere puff beside the cries of birds, boom of sea, and ancient artifacts. For Stewart's many followers, a pleasant armchair holiday in a wild and lovely landscape. (Literary Guild Dual Selection for Fall) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
It's still an enjoyable read however, and a veritable masterpiece compared to the books she wrote after this one, proving once again that people ought to know when to retire gracefully.