Thunder on the Right Mass Market Paperback
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Top Customer Reviews
I seem to have a knack for noticing an overused word and Mary surely could have selected synonyms in place of 'steady' occurring a hundred times in this novel. However her digressions leave room for humour; the ability to laugh at people being timeless between 1957 and now. Most importantly, cunning attention went into the development of this story and plot. The frenzy with which multiple threads race together is stunning.
'Jennifer' and 'Stephen' were university friends in England, whose dating didn't get off the ground before he enlisted in a war. She goes to France to visit her cousin 'Gillian', who was raised as her elder sister. Freshly discharged 'Stephen' joins the vacation in hopes of sparking the relationship. 'Jennifer' is told her cousin died but evidence arises that contradicts the news. Without knowing whom to trust or where to look, tracking events is tricky in itself but a physically taxing, movie-worthy adventure ensues as well. This is a book paced to perfection. At first it is slow enough to acquaint the characters and setting. It becomes an explosion of information, surprises, and twists that make this a story I won't forget.
The typical Mary Stewart heroine is young, very beautiful, strong-minded, courageous but feminine and ultimately happy to let her man take over … Jennifer is all of those things but her sheltered upbringing has made her a little childish, and seemingly fragile. The story is really all about her growing up and how her placid, previously unchallenged character responds to extreme situations. However, this novel also features one of Stewart's most romantic male characters, a passionate and sensitive musician who is prepared to do whatever it takes to achieve his heart's desire. The villains are suitably evil but, because of the third-person narrative, we get to see them in all their complexities. Even the smaller incidental characters are beautifully drawn (Sister Maria Louisa, Celeste) and the descriptions of places and events are mesmerizing.Read more ›
It's suffused with suspense, atmosphere, and of course romance!!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In particular, without the compelling tell-all 1st person narrative usually facilitated by Stewart, the heroine of the tale, one Jennifer Silver, comes across as exactly what she is--a 22 year old with the scant experience of any young girl coming straight out of the sheltered privileged environment of upper class Britain--instead of the usual intrepid/curious/resourceful traveler of the other stories.
Here, Jennifer has traveled to the wild southwestern portion of France, where the Pyrenees form the country's natural boundary from Spain. Excited to meet up with her half-French cousin, Gillian, she is utterly shocked to encounter Stephen, a music student acquaintance of her father with whom she had a brief but platonic flirtation years prior to coming to France. As with the other Stewart novels, romance comes secondary, if not thirdly in importance when weighed against the circumstances of the mystery within the plotl ine. And here,it tends to be a little melodramatic--Stephen, the brooding musician reining in his feelings of passion for Jennie, and Jennie, herself, not even realizing what passion is.
Far better is the novel's main thrust--for when Jennie attempts to contact her cousin at the local convent where the half-French girl is deciding upon a religious vocation, Jennie discovers rather abruptly from the convent's bursar that her cousin has died and has been buried within the convent walls. Shocked but by no means mentally incapacitated, Jennie realizes that Dona Francisca's story does not make sense, as Jennie knows one or two things about her cousin that renders the explanation totally invalid. Here Jennifer takes the initiative as do all the Stewart heroines--hell bent to discover the truth with no thought to her own safety. The path she follows is a treacherous one, involving the bursar, her plans for the convent and illegal doings that make the locale's proximity to Spain extremely convenient.
If you have the opportunity, listen to the audio book, Harriet Walker's command of voices help convey the characters of each of the novel's persona with startling reality. This novel, I believe to be overlooked, but don't make that mistake, do read it and savor its passionate story--just undermine the romance.
Diana Faillace Von Behren
The sheltered Oxford-raised, quiet and reserved young Jennifer Silver journeys to the High Pyrenees in search of her half-French cousin who has been recuperating in a convent. A WWII-wounded former student of her professor father and brilliant musician follows her there for his own personal reasons. Just as they are rejoined, they become caught up in intricate webs of danger and criminal intrigue.
From the back cover- "She had come to the convent - a brooding cluster of ancient buildings nestled deep in the wild upper reaches of the French Pyrenees - to find her young cousin, Gillian. But the Convent of Our Lady of the Storms was not like others. There was something strange and frightening about the place...something that gave off an aura of evil, of hidden, violent things...
They told her Gillian was dead, but she did not believe them. Searching for the truth meant trouble. She did not know, until too late, it also meant ...murder."
As always, Mary Stewart's settings are so spectacular and described in such detail that I can see, smell and touch as clearly as if I were there as well. It is because of this superb sense of detail that a half dozen reads may not even be enough.
At first, I had my doubts about Thunder on the Right. After all, it is Stewart's first romantic suspense novel I read with a third-person narrative. Her first-person novels are very well written and it took me a while to get used to this new and unexpected format. To be honest, it had a somewhat slow beginning. However, the more I read, the more I couldn't put it down. Mary Stewart is a great writer, regardless of the narrative style, period. There are many surprises, many twists, and Stewart adds her signature flavor to it all. As with the other novels, there is some romance in this, but, like all other novels I've read, it is not the central storyline. Romance takes a back seat every time in her stories in favor of the suspense and gothic atmosphere, something I love about this author. I very much enjoyed Thunder on the Right. This is one of Stewart's more underrated efforts, a sad thing, for I found it just as intriguing as her other books. Well, maybe not as good as The Ivy Tree or Madam, Will You Talk?, but definitely worth getting into. If you're a fan of this author, do not make the mistake of overlooking this one. She is quickly becoming a must-read-all-of-her-backlist author, replacing the wonderful Daphne du Maurier, whose books I have devoured for the past couple of years or so.