Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart

Touch not the Cat cover

Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart was published in 1976 and it must have been around about then that I first read it. I couldn’t remember an awful lot about the book (it was a long time ago after all) but I did remember that the family crest had something to do with the storyline. Judith @ Reader in the Wilderness and I decided to read this one at the same time and she plans to get her post up about it soon.

This is a light read, you might call it a comfort read, perfect holiday or summertime reading. The setting is mainly Herefordshire in England in the 1970s although the book does begin in Madeira where Bryony Ashley is working at a hotel that is owned by her father’s friend, it’s just a holiday job for her but tragedy strikes when Bryony’s father is knocked down and killed by a hit and run car in Germany. Her father wasn’t killed outright and his last words have been written down for Bryony, as the doctors know that she won’t get to his bedside before he dies. There is a tradition of a sort of telepathy within the Ashley family and Bryony has it as has one of her male relatives, but she doesn’t know which one it is that communicates with her through thought.

Bryony is now an orphan and even worse than that her family home Ashley Court is entailed meaning that it has to be passed on down the male line in the family. Ashley Court is practically a ruin, an ancient moated house which has suffered from a lack of maintenance for years. It’ll be a millstone around the neck of the eldest Ashley cousin Emory, even more than Bryony realises because she discovers that that branch of the family is equally skint when she and her father had believed them to be very well off.

The police have never been able to track down whoever killed Bryony’s father and she begins to think that it wasn’t a simple accident. Did her cousins have something to do with it? Which of her cousins is it that she has a mental link with, being able to communicate through telepathy.

Bryony is suspicious of her cousins, would they have killed her father to get their hands on Ashley Court and the land around it?

With romance thrown in and some lovely descriptions of the surroundings, something always expected in a Mary Stewart book, this was an enjoyable read. Mind you I always compare any of her books with her Merlin/Arthurian trilogy, that ended up being a series of five books. Those books are still my favourites.

I read this one for the Read Scotland 2016 Challenge, I’ve now read thirteen Scottish books so far this year.

5 thoughts on “Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart

  1. I love learning about another one of Mary Stewart’s books. I ‘ve been more hesitant to read the trilogy you mentioned, since I’m not generally a fan of fantasy, but I may have to try them. I enjoyed reading fantasy to my children as they were growing up, and I’m so glad I did. I just found one of her books at a used sale that I’m looking forward to.


    • Paula,
      I would describe her Merlin/Arthur books as historical fiction rather than fantasy. I read the first three when I was a teenager and at that time Arthurian tales were very popular. Which of her books did you find at a used book sale? I recently bought quite a few that I haven’t read, or don’t remember reading.

  2. Katrina,
    Thanks for clarifying about the Merlin books. I’m not sure why I thought they were fantasy, but knowing they aren’t makes me more likely to read them. The one I bought is This Rough Magic. I don’t really know anything about the story, but I’m looking forward to finding out.:)

    • Paula,
      As it happens, This Rough Magic is one of the books that I bought recently, I’ll read it soonish. Her Merlin books do have a magical element in them of course, but even her contemporary books often have a bit of magic or weirdness in them.

  3. Pingback: Read Scotland 2016 Challenge | Pining for the West

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